Common sense is a powerful ally, and that's what long-time horseman Martin Cohen counted on when he introduced his revolutionary MDC Intelligent Stirrups® to the tradition-bound english equestrian world 11 years ago.
"Why should a stirrup want to naturally return and lay flat against a horse's side when lost?" was the question that started the whole adventure. As no one could come up with any reasonable answer, the judge, course designer and trainer began his journey to develop an improved riding stirrup.
Martin got to work on a better design: a patented, adjustable top allows stirrups to be forward facing in optional angles of 45 or 90 degrees. These forward facing stirrups provide a more natural leg and foot position, relieving stress on the joints and reducing leather burns, Martin explains. They are more retrievable and safer in the event of a fall.
Once the stirrup hit the market, riders began to comment that the more natural position of the stirrup allowed for better contact of the calf with a better leg position and alignment through the joints. "Amazingly," Martin adds, "they also alleviated long term pain in the ankle, knee, hip, and back, which MDC guarantees with a money back offer."
It was a revolution in safety, performance and comfort and the idea caught on. The MDC Stirrups™ have been the most popular single brand used by American riders at the last three Olympic Games, he notes, and that's across all disciplines: show jumping, dressage and eventing.
Martin is understandably proud of what MDC has accomplished, but he's far from finished. Addressing the needs of the traditional equitation and hunter arenas are the company's current goals, and MDC's Patented 'S' Models™ are just the stirrup for the task. Their trim and very traditional look facilitates a 45-degree forward facing position with an ultra-low profile, high traction, aluminum tread, thus providing a true performance stirrup for the traditional hunter/equitation rider.
Now traditionally based riding disciplines can have the advantages of performance stirrups due to MDC's patented forward facing design.
Most high performance stirrups are designed by European companies, the inventor notes. "MDC Stirrups are the only stirrups designed by an American distinctly for the unique American and Canadian english horse show market."
The newly patented MDC 'S' Models™ are available in two formats: The MDC 'S' Flex™ has shock absorbing flex sides, and the MDC 'S' Classic™ has the lines to satisfy even the strictest traditionalist. MDC Stirrups™ are show ring legal for any division.
While the original MDC Intelligent Stirrups have traditional rubber treads, the latest models come standard with an ultra-low profile, high traction wide aluminum tread. With the addition of these wider treads, MDC further enhances its rider benefits by providing a newfound base of support, even more comfort and a higher traction coefficient. The 'S' Models™ have high performance advantages within a traditional design and are invisible in the show ring. An optional traditional width aluminum tread is also available.
The 'S' Models represent the "next generation in stirrup design," where Martin is proud to be leading the way. With 40-plus years in the equine industry, including being licensed to judge, course designer and act as steward by both the FEI and USEF, it boggles his mind that there are still riders and trainers who go along with outdated thinking on stirrup design. He points out that in 2010, the gold medal rider from the Olympic Games lost a stirrup during an important Grand Prix, voluntarily circled to regain his iron, causing him to finish third while he was on his way to ostensibly winning the class. "The net effect of that one lost stirrup was a difference of $675,000.00 in prize money!," Martin says. "Stirrup design is important to your results."
Something Special for Pony Riders
Martin is particularly excited to design stirrups that add safety for beginner and novice riders. The gold standard in many beginner riding programs has been a stirrup with a limited opening for the boot and rubber band sides that release if a foot is caught during a fall. "That's an after-the-fact safety stirrup," Martin asserts. "You have to be caught by the stirrup and drug down the arena by your foot before the invention has an opportunity to work. Why not use a stirrup that's less likely to catch a child's foot in the first place?" MDC Forward Facing Stirrups provide safety before-the-fact in that they tend to keep the stirrup angle open to the horse and less likely to catch a falling rider in the first place.
By the end of the year, Martin will be introducing the MDC 'S' Pony Classic™ specifically for pony riders. "Nobody has made an advanced pony stirrup in over 60 years." Now the youngest of riders will have the opportunity to ride in safer, better designed stirrups equal to riders at the Olympic level.
MDC's design concepts are cutting edge, but the company is decidedly old-fashioned when it comes to customer service. Personal consultations regarding stirrup model and size are part of the buying experience when customers contact MDC direct and all stirrups are available for trial before purchase.
Until someone can argue for a good reason that allows stirrups to want to naturally return to a flat position against the side of the horse, MDC will continue to produce better designed stirrups for riders of all ages and riding disciplines. "I really want to educate the industry about this, whether they buy our stirrups or somebody else's," Martin stresses. He's up against "certain traditionalists in American riding who still embrace the old stirrups, even though they have a negative impact on safety, performance and comfort." The writing is on the wall as many of today's high performance stirrups are being designed with forward facing aspects, but none are designed to US and Canadian standards but MDC, he notes.
MDC has a long list of endorsers. Famous names include dressage Olympians Debbie McDonald, Jan Ebeling, Adrienne Lyle and Tina Konyot, Olympic event riders Phillip Dutton, Buck Davidson and Will Coleman, show jumping champion Margie Engle as well as renowned rider and coach Bernie Traurig. For many reasons, MDC Stirrups have sold themselves to much of the industry and now Martin is determined to convert the rest. His impressive accomplishments make it seem it will only be a matter of time until that happens.
For more information, visit www.mdcstirrups.com or call 831-393-0588.