|Equitaly has got it going on|
|boring is as boring does|
This is the most basic and common model of stirrup iron on the market. It's widely available and can generally be had for around $25-35 brand new. Fillis irons are widely accepted as "traditional" (for whatever that's worth to you) and are legal to show in all English disciplines. These things have been around for decades (centuries?) and they certainly get the job done.
They work really well for some people and cause excruciating pain for others. The difference seems to be that people with previous lower limb injuries like a fixed foot? Dunno. I'm injury free and these things murder me.
|I call them "leg murder irons"|
The next evolution is the fillis flex iron. I think Sprenger was the first to come out with a model ($224). MDC has another one ($184) and thank god for knockoffs-- Dover carries a basic model ($49.99). It's the same exact set up as a fillis iron, but with joints inside the rubber on the side. These are also show legal.
These have the same narrow footbed as the fillis irons. My .02 on these is that I really don't love them. They tend to be too flexible. I initially got a pair of knock offs because they were trendy and they sort of helped alleviate some knee pain, but they were just too loose in the flex section and made my leg less stable. Also, if you don't have knee problems and do have knee pain, maybe you should quit bracing your lower leg. ;-)
|basic Royal Riders, wide footbed|
The next big leap forward was switching from stainless irons to a composite material--essentially high quality plastic. Composite irons can be as simple as a fillis iron made of different material ($30) or it can be much more cool. Royal Rider (I think) was the first to come out with the wide footbed ($145). Prestige also makes one ($184). If you're cheap like me, the knock offs are made by Equiwing ($65).
The wide tread composites feature the "cheese grater" stirrup pads that theoretically improve grip. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't. I don't know. I do know that the wide tread is frequently a game changer for people with joint problems in the legs. I also know that the black composites are NOT LEGAL in the eq ring and I suspect they're frowned upon in hunters? There are silver/grey models coming out now that are legal. Hunter peeps, help me out here.
|flexi royal riders oooooh|
THIS my friends, is where it's at. For me. Royal Rider again has the corner on the market ($179). I'm half tempted to get a cheap/broken pair of these just to dissect them and see what's inside. Regardless, they look like normal composites with a short rubber section on either side of the branch. Inside this segment is mechanism that allows the stirrups to flex slightly. It's not the multi-hinged type flex you get in the flex fillis irons.
To be perfectly honest, I actually prefer the Equiwing knock offs ($126) of the RR flex model. The RR is ever so slightly flexier and I want a little give, not my ankle to break in half. Both of these models combine the wide tread, cheese grater pads, and a small amount of flex. They are brilliant. You'd think this is the top of the market, but there's always something more.
|just swivel the thing at the top|
Offset irons attempt to compensate for the normal amount of torque put on the human leg by the stirrup leather wrapping around it. The MDC collection offers a top that swivels to present angles that you can individualize. Other irons incorporate some sort of twist to design of the stirrup to alleviate pressure for the rider.
Offset irons frequently also incorporate flex, like the MDC Ultimate ($210). There is also famously the Sprenger Bow Balance ($224). There are some interesting non-flex models out as well. Newest on the scene seems to be the composite non-flex Royal Rider Evo 80s ($110ish).
This is probably two distinct categories that I'm lumping into one because I can. It includes things like Jin Aluminums ($275), my beloved (someday...) Lorenzini titaniums ($265), and of course the to-die-for Equitaly line ($260+). There's also the Free Jump line that you're starting to see at jumper shows. Try not to gasp too hard at the $400+ price tag that doesn't include the specialized leathers you're also supposed to buy.
These stirrups are substantially more expensive and some of what you're paying for is style points. HOWEVER. This is where the innovations are at right now. These are the people questioning the function of the basic design we've had for ages to see if we can improve it. I'm certain that if/when they do, the cheaper knock offs will filter down.
|trippy. expensive. plastic.|
Who else has had sets of these and can share a little knowledge?