Monday and Tuesday, Eli flatted beautifully. Tuesday, I worked on canter-walk transitions on a big figure 8, and I could not have asked him to be more responsive and willing. Tuesday, I also got my shipment of new stirrup irons, the MDC S Flex Stirrup Irons, and a quarter sheet for Eli. Wednesday, I tried out the irons. I also jumped Eli a little (and he was fantastic!), to give the irons a fair test.
I needed new irons sooner rather than later. I have been riding in no-name flex irons for the past 10 years at least, and the rubber covering the flexible part was beginning to dry out, and the flexible part itself was starting to feel a little too flexible. That can’t be good.
I knew I couldn’t give up on the flexible part of stirrup irons because fixed traditional Fillis stirrups hurt my ankles and feet. I have really, really bad feet. Had surgery on one, probably need surgery on the other. I scoured reviews of any and all stirrups available, ranging widely in price, form, function, and appearance. I wanted an iron that still maintains something of a more traditional look, has good weight to it (pretty much eliminated any composite stirrups from contention), has flexibility, and I became interested in the wide treads on many of the newer stirrups after reading a number of reviews about wide tread stirrups that said the wide treads helped to alleviate foot pain and numbness.
The MDC S Flex fit the bill on all points. I had only seen a handful of reviews on the S Flex model, most likely because the irons were made available to consumers only this year. The reviews I did find were highly complimentary, and reviews I found on other MDC stirrup models similarly raved about the stirrup irons. I took the plunge, and ordered a pair from SmartPak, at $168.95 for the 4 3/4″.
Once I had the stirrups in hand, I was very pleased with their weight. They are definitely heavier than composite stirrups, and maybe just an ounce or two lighter than the stirrups I had been using for oh so long. The stirrups come in a definite right and left stirrup, with instructions and easy-to-follow pictures on which stirrup is which. My leathers are a little bit thicker than I would like and have a nylon core, but even with the “S” contour, I got my leathers through fairly easily. Within a few minutes, my new stirrups were on my saddle!
I admit, I got a little worried once they were on and I saw how they hung at an angle because of the “S” contour. I double-checked to make sure they were on correctly. It just looked like the stirrup leather might put more pressure against my shin, rather than less. Once I mounted up, I realized my fears were unfounded, so if you try these, don’t let the way the stirrups hang fool you! On my left leg, I no longer felt any pressure against my shin from the stirrup leather. On my right leg, the pressure was greatly reduced. The “S” contour definitely did its job!
I picked up a posting trot, and immediately noticed something that totally surprised me–the amount of torque on my knees disappeared. I’m not kidding. I didn’t even realize my knees had been twisting until I rode in the MDC irons because this was the first time ever that my knees didn’t twist! I don’t know that everyone would have a similar experience, because I’m guessing variations in anatomy would alter how the stirrups work for people, but I was blown away.
The wide tread went a long way to helping my feet feel more comfortable. I can’t say that my foot pain disappeared, but I didn’t experience numbness like I usually do, mostly in my pinky toes, with other stirrups. The treads felt very secure, very grippy. I have a habit of fidgeting with my feet in the stirrups, especially in the left stirrup iron. I didn’t feel like fidgeting with my right foot at all, and I fidgeted at the beginning of my ride some with my left foot, but stopped pretty quickly. I think it’s as much habit as it is a reaction to pain, so I imagine it might take a few more rides to stop the habit of foot fidgeting completely.
At all three gaits, and over small fences, the MDC S Flex provided me with comfort and security. Far from interfering with my ride, I think the security the irons gave me helped to stabilize my leg, especially as that stability is affected by torque on my knees. With the torque gone, my leg felt like it just hung better against the side of my horse, like I wasn’t having to fight against anything to get it in position, probably because my knees were no longer turning in. I really can’t find a down-side to the stirrup irons. I thought it might be best to try them out for a week before reviewing them, but all the differences were immediate, so why delay? I can’t wait to jump around slightly bigger fences with these stirrup irons! Maybe now I can make some headway on my 2pointober times. If you are in the market for new irons, the MDC S Flex are definitely worth trying out!