How to Measure for Stirrup Length

In horseback riding, it is essential to get the proper body alignment in order to be safe and successful during a ride. Unfortunately, stirrup misalignment is fairly common in new riders. There are a number of specific stirrup adjustments that take place depending upon the type of riding you are doing. First you must make sure your body is aligned, find a good starting stirrup length and make any adjustments you need for the type of riding you plan to do. This article will tell you how to measure for stirrup length.


# Tie the pony or horse to a post or rail before beginning. Alternatively, have someone hold the horse or pony. Never leave your horse or pony untied while doing the stirrups up or down.

  1. Image titled Measure for Stirrup Length Step 1
    Make a visual check once the saddle is on. You will most likely change this during the process of adjusting the stirrups, but if you look both parallel to the horse and perpendicular, you may see that the saddle is not square or the stirrups are different lengths.
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    Square the saddle on top of the horse before you start adjusting.
  3. Image titled Measure for Stirrup Length Step 3
    Find a starting position for the stirrup.
    • Stand perpendicular to the horse and the stirrups. Make your hand into a fist next to the top of the stirrup iron near the top of your saddle.
    • Get hold of the buckle at the top of the stirrup leather.
    • Pull the stirrup leather out until it sits just under your armpit, running the full length of your arm. If the end of the stirrup iron is still up your arm, then it is too short; if it droops, then it is too long. Adjust the stirrup to the correct hole.
    • Do the same thing on the opposite side.
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    Ask someone to help you accurately measure your stirrup length. This will allow you to get in the saddle and feel where the right length should be.
  5. Image titled Measure for Stirrup Length Step 5
    Get into the saddle and make sure your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel are all in straight alignment.
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    Take your feet out of the stirrups and have your friend make sure the bottom of the stirrup is equal to the length of your ankle bone. This may be hard to see because of riding boots, so the friend may need to feel with their fingers to know where your ankle bone lies.
  7. Image titled Measure for Stirrup Length Step 7
    Put your feet in the stirrups. Judge if the ball of your foot is resting on the iron with your heels pointing downward and your toes pointing forward.
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    Take a ride around your corral or ring and ask your friend to check for 2 measurements.
    • Have them look at the angle of your leg when they are perpendicular to you. There should be an equal angle between the thigh and the knee and the knee and the lower leg. If not, the stirrup is usually too long, creating a straighter angle in the lower leg.
    • The angle of the upper leg should equal the angle of the horse's shoulder.
  9. Image titled Measure for Stirrup Length Step 9
    Adjust the stirrups slightly for the type of riding you will be doing.
    • If you are doing dressage, cutting or saddle seat riding, your stirrup length should be slightly longer because the rider is sitting back in the saddle and using a lot of leg to control the horse.
    • If you are jumping or roping, you need a short stirrup length to sit higher in the saddle.


  • If it is still too short on the bottom hole or still too long on the top hole, then ask for either longer or shorter stirrups.
  • Although this may seem like it is a lengthy process, it need only be done once or twice and then you will get to know the feel of correct stirrup length.


  • Never judge the stirrup length by the equipment itself. They must be measured according to the person's and horse's height.
  • Make sure the buckle is in the hole, firmly. Otherwise, it might release the stirrup when you are riding.

Things You'll Need

  • Friend for assistance
  • Saddle
  • Arena or corral

Article Info

Categories: Horses | Tack (Saddles and Bridles)