History of the Free Ride Western Safety Stirrup
I would like to tell you about how Western Safety Stirrups came to be…
I began a quest to design and build a western safety stirrup as a result of a bad fall I took off a horse in the mountains of New Hampshire 3 years ago. We were high up a mountain in a logging area several miles from the nearest dirt road. We had ridden to the top of the mountain and were coming back down. As we rode through a particularly rough and very steep section of the trail, we had to cross a log that was up to my horse’s belly. My horse stepped over with both front feet and one rear foot. As he stepped with his last rear foot over the log, he stepped on a branch which popped up and hit him in the belly. I was riding a green horse and the poke in the belly was just too much for him to handle. He blew up and started bucking down the hill. It was like the downhill scene in “The Man from Snowy River!” Unfortunately, I’m no Jim Craig and I was thrown.
The most unfortunate part was that I went off the right side of my horse with my left foot caught in the stirrup. I was slammed into the ground repeatedly as my horse bucked down the mountainside. Luckily I was knocked unconscious on my first impact with the ground so was spared the terror my poor wife Trudy and our friend Sally felt as they watched me repeatedly slam into the rocks, logs and ground as my horse bucked and careened down the hill. After several bucks my foot dislodged and my horse and I thankfully parted company, leaving me in a heap on a mountainside 3 miles from the nearest dirt road with broken ribs, a concussion, cuts requiring stitches and contusions and bruises too numerous to count.
The next couple of hours are a blur. I remember regaining consciousness and hearing Trudy calling to me to stay still. I heard an other worldly groaning that I slowly came to realize was coming out of my throat as I fought to regain consciousness and get some much needed air into my lungs. The taste of blood was heavy in my mouth and it felt like a freight train was charging through my head. Trudy’s voice sounded faint and far away even though she was kneeling on the ground right next to me with her hands on me trying to keep me still. I’ll spare you the rest of the story. Suffice it to say that the 3 mile walk to the road was one of the longest walks I’ve ever made.
My recovery was slow and painful. The biggest damage was to my confidence. I have always been a very confident rider but this accident shook me to the core. Luckily, I was wearing a quality helmet. If not, I would not be writing this today. That one incident changed several things forever. It wrecked a good horse. That horse was never the same about carrying a rider again. It also adversely affected my enthusiasm and riding confidence for some time. I determined not to ride again until I had a stirrup that would release in just about any situation.
Trudy searched for a western safety stirrup. She found one that works but the cost was very high. She bought a set for me as a gift. I attached them to my saddle and began riding again as soon as I recovered enough to sit a saddle. They helped give me the confidence to get back out there. The only drawback was the price. Trudy paid over $500 for these stirrups. Though worth the price in safety, I wondered what others had as options who could not afford that kind of expenditure. I searched the internet and could not find a Western Safety Stirrup that I felt was affordable for the average American that met the aesthetic requirement I was looking for as well. That started me on a quest to create and design what we offer today… The Free Ride Western Safety Stirrup!