Take your pal on a ride with our new buddy Stirrups! Okay not really…
Buddy stirrups are child stirrups that hook over the horn of your western saddle so that a child can sit in front of the rider in the saddle. They are designed to help the child maintain their balance while riding with an adult.
Buddy stirrups are an awesome way for you to get your children started in riding horses. But they do raise some questions and concerns.
Are Buddy Stirrups safe?
In the United States, there were an estimated 9,163 injuries in children 0 to 14 related to horseback riding in 2019. Unfortunately, the Neiss doesn’t quite go into enough detail for me to determine how many, if any, of those were related to buddy stirrups.
That being said, in another article of mine talk about the numbers of riders known to have gotten injuries related to having their foot caught in the stirrups.
Since the numbers are not super accurate, I think you’re going to have to think things through a little bit.
First, let’s take a look at how body strips are designed. They are effectively a strap with a stirrup at each end and a small loop that is designed to go over the horn of your saddle. This places the child in front of what I would assume to be a relatively skilled rider.
In the event of an accident, that rider most likely has their hands around the child so that they can get at the reins. This places them in a very good situation where they can grab onto the child and jump away from the horse.
There are other mechanisms for allowing a child to ride on a horse. For example there is a Buddy saddle that affixes much like a set of saddlebags. In this case however, the child would be placed behind the rider making it much more difficult to pull the child away from the now dangerous animal.
Unfortunately, the best that I can do is lay out as much information as I have and let you make your own decision. Horses can be dangerous animals, in fact I think most of us have had at least one minor injury.
In some cases, you will see these paired with a harness that is meant to act almost like a seatbelt for the young rider. I really would not recommend this as you have no way of quickly removing the child should the animal decide act up.
I would suggest that you use your best judgment. I don’t know your horse, and I also don’t know your child and how they might react in the event emergency.
What are buddy stirrups made out of?
Buddy stirrups are typically made out of synthetic fabrics. The most common material used to construct buddy stirrups seems to be nylon. That being said they many of the more expensive versions are made out of leather.
Amazon has a ton of these available the one with the best ratings can be found here.
Can buddy stirrups be removed easily?
Given that buddy stirrups slip over the horn of the saddle they are in fact very easy to take on and off of your saddle. In fact, I would say that these are easier than most of the tack required for a western set up.
Some alternatives to buddy stirrups are a buddy saddle which affixes behind the saddle and does have a little bit more work to properly secure so that it doesn’t slide off of the horse.
The easiest option of course, assuming a child is small enough, is to just put the child in front of you between your thighs and the pommel. This is actually what my wife and I do with our three toddlers. However we do have two buddy saddles for when they get a little bit bigger.
Can you replace the stirrups?
In most cases, but he stirrups are going to come made out of nylon with a plastic stirrup for the child to use.
Unfortunately, most of the stirrups are going to be sewn onto the nylon or leather strap making them rather difficult to replace if you don’t have the ability to cut the threading and then resew your new stirrup in place.
What ages are buddy stirrups used for?
Buddy stirrups are not actually measured by the age of the child. They are actually measured by your child’s inseam. On Average I found that buddy stirrups can be adjusted from 12″ to 27″. This is the length of the strap from the horn to the foot of the stirrup.
This measurement correlates directly with your child’s inseam. Below I have put together some estimations based on average age to help you estimate if your child should be using a buddy saddle.
Based on the information from my research above, I would say most buddy saddles will fit children that are ages 1 to 12.
However, not all of the buddy stirrups that I was able to find had that full range. Some didn’t even list or say anything about the size. So be sure to check their return policy before you purchase.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System 2019 on NEISS Online Database. Generated at https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/NEISSQuery/home.aspx.