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It’s a risk we all take and the nightmare we hope to never have: falling off our horse, hanging a stirrup, and being stepped on or dragged by a panicked animal. To some extent, tapaderos have always reduced this risk, but they are not ideal for many riding pursuits and have largely fallen out of fashion. Luckily, for cowgirls and their families and friends, quick release or breakaway stirrups increase safety and look gorgeous to boot!

The best part? The quick release stirrups are now available in traditional western styles and colors designed for every western discipline and for every size cowgirl, even pee-wees!

Our favorites are the “Breakaway Stirrups” from Saddle Technologies Incorporated (STI) based in Billings, Montana. We love the selection and quality offered and the personal purchasing guidance provided. There is an authentic stirrup style for all of our cowgirl pursuits, designed by a real cowboy who has been there and done that.

The stirrups ride, fit, and look indistinguishable from any western stirrup and can be custom made to match your saddle. The tooled leather and silver pairs come in a range of colors and designs that would make any rodeo queen proud. The quick release mechanism is easy to understand, maintain and recock as necessary. A bonus– the stirrups are made with a super strong nylon core helping to protect both leg and foot should your horse fall on you.

The stirrups work essentially like a downhill ski binding. They release automatically from the saddle fenders when the rider’s footwear achieves an abnormal angle that only occurs when the rider hooks a stirrup while falling to the ground, thus preventing the possibility of a dragging event. 

Because the stirrup releases the rider immediately, she has a chance to scramble away from her horse, reducing the likelihood of being kicked while hung up and trying to unhook herself from the stirrup on one or no legs! The stirrups do not release during routine, casual, or even very aggressive riding, like barrel racing or roping.

Order online at breakawaystirrups.com.

(Originally published in the November/December 2009 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).