What a great idea, and why haven’t I heard of these before now?
The Barnes Buckle is a nifty safety device which attaches to the stirrup and stirrup leather. It does not affect your riding in any way, but if the worst happens and you fall off and your foot is stuck in the stirrup, the parts will release under only 6kg of pressure. Tests on the buckles show that in normal riding circumstances it would take a pressure of 1400kg to part the pieces.
Every rider dreads falling off; and being dragged, even more so.
Fortunately – touch wood – I have never been dragged but decreasing my chances of having this happen certainly appeals.
Inventor Maurice Barnes spent three years designing the Barnes Buckles after seeing footage of a fallen jockey being dragged.
Many racing stables in Britain are using the Barnes Buckle on their work saddles, and Doncaster’s Northern Racing College has made the devices a standard piece of equipment.
The British Horse Society has also given its approval to the buckles, and Olympic eventer Matt Ryan never rides without them – saying: “After weeks of using the Buckle without a problem, I became confident of them. Then in July I had a fall at West Wilts that finally convinced me. As I approached a big ditch and palisade my horse questioned me on take off, hesitated, and his front feet went in to the ditch slamming him up against the palisade. I went zooming straight over his head. I didn’t even realise it but my foot had become trapped in the stirrup, but the Buckle released as it should have done and I landed cleanly on the other side of the palisade. I’m all for safety and so now I never ride without them.”
The buckles come with a little ring clip that you can attach to the pieces (see rear view picture above), so that in the event of a fall, the part that comes away from the stirrup does not get lost.
I’m not aware of many (if any) practical innovations for riding safety in recent years. A bouquet to the inventor.
If the powers that be have taken note of the recent reports on the dangers of horse riding, then the use of this device should be encouraged among all riders, and certainly for the racing industry and competitive sports movements.
I’ve only had a few rides with the Barnes so far, but they will become a permanent part of my riding gear. I didn’t want to send the review set back so I bought them. They’re a bargain – what price peace of mind?
According to a 2013 report, Barnes Buckles have ceased production. They originally retailed for £45.
Review first published on Horsetalk.co.nz in March 2007.