It’s important to always ride with the correct stirrup length. One of the easiest ways to find a good length is to drop your irons, relax your legs, and let your feet hang down alongside your horse. The stirrup bar (the bottom of the stirrup where your foot rests) should bump against your ankle bone. Of course, there are times when your stirrups need to be a little shorter or longer, but this test is a reliable start.
You can also check the length of your stirrups before you mount. Stand on the ground facing your horse. Place the fingertips of your right hand at the top of the stirrup leather where it loops over the metal safety bar. Next, use your left hand and pull the stirrup leather underneath your right arm. If the stirrup bar reaches your armpit, then your stirrups are probably the correct length.
Sometimes you have to adjust your stirrups once you’re on the horse. Fortunately, there’s a way to do that without dismounting. Just be sure you’re aboard a safe, quiet horse and you have someone to assist in case you get confused.
Keep your foot in the stirrup iron, but rotate your knee away from the saddle flap. Your heel will rub the side of your horse, so be careful not to accidentally kick him. Hold the reins in one hand, then grab onto the stirrup leather with your other hand. Pull down and out on the stirrup leather until you can see the buckle.
Raise or lower your stirrups one or two holes. Re-position your leg and try the new length. If it feels correct, slide the buckle back into place until you hear it click against the safety bar. This method takes some practice, but eventually you’ll feel balanced and coordinated. Now you’ll always have the correct stirrup length!