A warning is circulating about an accident where a horse caught his jaw on a stirrup iron while biting at a fly. Sorry, folks, this shouldbe a no-brainer.
Yet, constantly we see pictures of riders of all ages leading horses with the irons down, portraits being taken with stirrups swinging, ditto with horses waiting for classes or being cooled out, even in lessons when riders drop their irons.
I have no sense of humour about such things. When the foot is not in the stirrup iron, it is either run up, crossed over the horse’s shoulders, or woven up for longeing. It is never, even for a few minutes, allowed to swing and bang against the side of the horse.
Note that one useful exception to this rule is in teaching a green horse to accept the irons bumping his sides while on the lunge. Better he blows up momentarily in the lunge line, than when we are on him!
Running up one’s irons takes only a moment, shows you care, and shows that you’ve been well taught. It is a shining beacon to younger riders who may look up to you. One small effort will prevent the panicked horse with his bit caught, or the child run over when her stirrup gets caught on a stall door.
Teach your children to run up their irons, first thing when they dismount. There is a reason this has been a safe practice for more than a century!