Lindsey Kahn takes these stirrup modifiers out for a test ride.
When I was younger, I felt indestructible. My friends and I rode all day, raced our horses down the dirt roads, and probably gave our trainers and our parents plenty of gray hairs. Possessed with a special kind of boldness reserved for teenage equestrians, I took my fair share of hard knocks while riding horses throughout middle school and high school and always just kept on trucking. Admittedly, these knocks were rather frequent and ran the gamut from small falls to “probably-should’ve-gone-to-the-ER-but-oh-well” moments. I’d hit the ground, bounce to my feet, and clamber back on my horse faster than you could say, “That looked like it hurt!”
Now that I’m nearing the end of my 20-something years, I’m already finding that while less frequent (largely due to an increase in my sense of caution), my falls from horseback result in a much slower response time. I hit the dirt like a sack of potatoes and lay there for a bit while my brain ticks through its mental checklist of bones that I could have broken. Even if it doesn’t warrant an ER visit, I know I’ll be dealing with ibuprofen and ice packs for a few days. Despite my efforts to stay fit and limber in order to be the best rider I can be, I occasionally find myself creaking into the saddle and nursing aching hips and legs after longer rides.
Fortunately, a solution to these tired joints is both simple and affordable. Cashel, a company known for its innovative products for horse and rider, makes Western saddle attachments called E-Z Knees. Designed to alleviate hip and knee pain in the saddle, E-Z Knees allow your feet to rest in a more natural position by changing the angle of the stirrups so that they sit perpendicular to your horse’s sides.
The E-Z Knees are made with 1/8″ molded aluminum and are both durable and lightweight. There are two size options based on the width of the bottom of your saddle’s fenders (2.5″ or 3″).
Anyone who has bought a new Western saddle and struggled with breaking in stiff fender leathers should rejoice, as E-Z Knees eliminate fender torque and the associated stress on rider’s leg joints. The hardest part of using the E-Z Knees was installing them on my saddle, and even that was simply because my stirrups probably hadn’t been adjusted in a couple of years, let alone removed completely from the fenders. Once my stirrups were in place in the cradles of the E-Z Knees, it was easy to reassemble the parts of my saddle.
After shortening my stirrups to make up for the newly-added length, I mounted my trusty gaited gelding to put the E-Z Knees to the test. The difference between the before and after was obvious, and felt quite foreign at first. My legs were not accustomed to the lack of twist, but I immediately noticed that I could easily apply leg to my horse’s sides if needed, and my legs stayed comfortably in position no matter which gait I rode.
I decided to put the E-Z Knees to the test on a longer ride. My Connemara-Thoroughbred mare has a much bigger motor than my gelding, and I decked her out in our new gear before taking her on a conditioning ride down the long, straight trail that runs along the highway near my barn. We set out at a good clip, and I found that posting her trot was considerably easier because my legs did not have to compensate for an awkwardly-angled stirrup.
One of the things I love about the E-Z Knees is that the hand-polished aluminum matches the finish of my stirrups, and both are rust-proof and easy to clean – just take a rag or soft brush to clean off any dust or mud spots. Another fun feature is due to the position of the cradle in which the stirrup rests, the E-Z Knee itself does not bump into my shin as I ride, making for a comfortable ride with no interference.
Thanks to Cashel’s practical and thoughtful product, I can enjoy longer rides without stressing my legs as much. Whether I’m working young horses in the arena or enjoying a leisurely trail ride, I expect to get many years of use out of the E-Z Knees. E-Z Knees and other innovative products can be found at any of Cashel’s dealers.