Is this new stirrup a lifesaver?

  • Fatal rider accidents could be prevented thanks to a new Australian stirrup device, which saves the risk of being trapped in a fall

    In the wake of publicity surrounding the recent death of stable lass Rebecca Davies who was killed when her horse bolted and dragged her, a former jockey believes he has come up with a device to prevent riders being trapped in similar falls.

    Rebecca, 18, died after when the horse she was riding which was trained by James Given, bolted on the gallops. Her foot got caught in the stirrup as she fell. Rebecca died of multiple injuries after she was dragged for a quarter of a mile.

    Australian horseman Adrian Mordante, believes that his new Toestoppers design might have saved her life.

    Awareness campaign

    Toestoppers has been four years in development and the company behind what is claimed to be a revolutionary design, hasjust had its first orders from the UK. The firm distributing the device is beginning a major awareness campaign this week.

    Adrian says: “Having been involved in two serious accidents myself, I was watching the racing on TV and thinkingwhat could be made to prevent jockeys getting dragged. I made the first prototype out of a mouse mat four years ago. Riders have been trialling the product for three years and none of them have been dragged while using it.”

    A European race-style Toe Stopper is now being used in racing with says Adrian, a fantastic response.The Toe Stoppers is a moulded rubber cup that fits inside the stirrup iron and is fastened by industrial strength Velcro straps. The cups come in different sizes to fit individual stirrups and to ensure that riders have the correct width. Once on board, the Toestopper supports the rider’s feet in the correct riding position on the ball of the foot.

    Adrian says: “The pocket stops therider’s foot going all the way into the stirrup iron in the event of a horse shying, jumping or making a sudden movement. This will prevent the rider’s foot from being caught, thus preventing dragging incidents.”

    For novice riders in particular, the device is claimed to maintain the position making it easier to keep heels down and toes turned up. Several Riding for the Disabled groups have been supplied with Toestoppers for trial.

    Shortage of statistics

    While there are no specific statistics relating to dragging injuries or deaths caused by the foot getting caught, the British Horse Society’s head of safety, Sheila Hardy says: “Riding is a high risk sport, however, accidents involving being dragged by a horse when the foot is stuck in the stirrup are mercifully rare.”

    She adds: “There are sensible precautions that any rider can take including wearing the correct footwear and ensuring that the stirrup is the correct size for that footwear.”

    David Shipway who has taken on the contract as UK distributor for the device says: “We took Toestoppers on because we could see its phenomenal potential as a safety device and a teaching aid. From a commercial point of view, it is the sort of product that can be used by anyone riding a horse.”

    David is hoping to pilot a design specially made for the racing industry over the next few weeks.

    His wife Ginny, a leisure riderwho plans to compete her part-bred Arab at endurance, has tested Toestoppers. She says: “The first time I used them, I didn’t know if I liked the feel but the second time, I didn’t even notice I was using them. A friend who is a novice rider said she felt the Toestoppers helped her riding position and meant she would not tip forward if the horse shied.”

    Following publicity locally in the south-west, the Shipways have already been inundated with requests.David adds: “Not everyone is going to like them, but we have had excellent feedback so far. One woman who wanted a pair for her eight year old said she was just so thrilled that something like this was available that might stop these terrible accidents happening.”

    To find our more about Toestoppers contact (tel/fax: 01647 440273) or email shipways@aol.com

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