S.A. Walls has been in the stirrup business for 24 years. There's not much in the industry that he hasn't seen. The top-of-the-line saddlemakers in the cutting horse world have been using his stirrups for many years. The unique slick, high-gloss finish is immediately associated with his stirrups and he has nearly two-dozen different designs. No doubt you'll recognize his products in the National Roper's Supply catalog and on saddles across the country.
Now he's jumping into the barrel racing market with a new product, the Ultralite Barrel Racer stirrup-which is slanted. The stirrup comes in several different size combinations, including a three-inch and two-inch foot platform. The slanted design allows for a more natural way for the foot to hang. Also included is a polycarbon rubber grip for the sole of the foot that is actually material used on some conveyor belts. Walls claims that the heavy rubber adds some weight and balance to the extra-lightweight stirrup as well.
"When you turn your fender 90 degrees to the horse, it raises the outside of that stirrup," Walls said. "On a regular stirrup, your foot's sitting at a 30 degree angle cocking your knees into the horse. With this new stirrup, the outside is longer than the inside, so your feet will be parallel to the ground. It relieves a lot of pressure on your knees."
Martha Josey found a pair of some of the initial versions and started riding them and, before long, more and more people wanted them. In the last 10 years, however, Walls has honed his craft and added the slanted line.
"I got a lot better at making them," he said. "I do them straight, I do them offset and I do them slanted. Because I hand-make these, I can make the top fit a 2, 2 1/2 and 3 inch fender."
In addition to Josey, Sharon Camarillo, and Kristie Peterson have begun to use the stirrups as well.
Walls's stirrups are guaranteed for life, a guarantee, he says, is better than Wal-Mart's because you don't need a receipt for him to exchange them. He claims that he's replaced eight stirrups since 1982.
"As long as they're mine," he said. "I'll stand behind them."
For more information, call (800) 436-8199 or visit www.sawalls.net.