Call for safety stirrups ban after child suffers ‘horrific’ injuries

  • Elastic-sided safety stirrups can cause horrific genital injuries to children and should be banned.

    This is the opinion of an American physician, lawyer and former international showjumper, who knows a child who was badly injured, and who told H&H he has heard of other similar incidents.

    Armand Leone wants US Equestrian (USEF) to ban the stirrups, which are also popular in the UK for children, which feature a hook to which an elastic loop is attached. The idea is that the elastic will detach if the rider has a fall, to prevent a foot becoming stuck. 

    But Mr Leone said there is a greater risk to safety when the child is dismounting.

    “In 2014, a child dismounted at a horse show, and the hook ripped through his breeches and degloved his penis,” he said. “He was 11 or 12.

    “I started looking into it and it appears there’s an average of about one incident every six months.”

    Mr Leone said the young rider he referred to had to have skin grafts. He recovered but Mr Leone said it could have been worse. He has also been contacted about young female riders whose genitals have been ripped by the hooks.

    “Most of the time they just catch clothes or a belt but injuries happen, and there’s no reason for it,” he said. “There’s a hook sticking straight up; put it somewhere else or get rid of it. Even though it’s not sharp, it’s sharp enough, and if you’re coming down off the horse; it was horrific when it happened.”

    Mr Leone added: “These stirrups are ubiquitous; there’s no one manufacturer but they could say that type of stirrup is not allowed.”

    A spokesman for USEF told H&H: “We have not received direct outreach from Armand Leone regarding the peacock safety stirrup safety concerns or a rule change proposal.  

    “We have also not received any reports of accidents involving peacock safety stirrups. We will reach out to him directly and request he provide a report and any evidence of the peacock safety concerns to the USEF human and equine safety and welfare committee and encourage him to submit a rule change proposal.

    “Safety and welfare of our human and horse athletes is our priority, and we take this issue and all safety concerns very seriously.”

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