Should you stand up in the stirrups to help your horse pee?

Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Allison Price

Yes. Yes. It all boils down to one thing: which is best for your horse? Different reasons, but also for some of the same reasons. There are many myths to be busted here. We’re all welcome to provide vague answers or confusion. Let’s get it out of the way.

When my horse was urinating, to relieve pressure on the kidneys, I learned as a child that it was best to stand in the stirrups. Let’s get this out of the way.

  • Below is an image showing the approximate location of Miguel’s kidneys (K), and bladder (B). Migs, thank you for showing us how to stance. Although the kidneys may not be symmetrical within your horse’s body but are almost in the same place when viewed from the side, they are approximately in the same spot.
  • The kidneys aren’t just under your horse’s skin. They are located under the spine and last bits of the rib. They also lie under the massive and thick longissimus Dorsi muscle. There are also layers of sub-dermal fat.
  • Most saddles are located in front of the kidneys, which is the most important point for this article. Even large western saddles. During a rectal exam, your vet can feel the kidneys. It’s not because your horse has a rectum that is too high, but because his kidneys are so low.

The kidneys filter blood 24 hours a day.

  • The kidney waste products travel to the bladder. Once it is full, it needs to be empty during urination. The bladder stores urine. As urine is collected and released, the bladder expands and contracts. The BLADDER is responsible for peeing. The kidneys are not involved.
  • The bladder is the only organ that can be used to feel pressure in horses. Have you ever been in a car and just couldn’t wait until the toilet was open? It’s your bladder and not your kidneys.
  • Is it possible to squish or put pressure on the horse’s bladder while we ride? Due to the position of your horse’s bladder, it is unlikely.
Stand Up In The Stirrups

We should always be standing in our stirrups if we need to relieve pressure from the kidneys that are under bone, fat and muscle, while your horse pees, all the time we ride.

  • We don’t believe this, and the myth that your horse can put pressure on his kidneys while he pees is false.
  • I left a message for my vet about this. She replied “WHAT?” in a partly sarcastic, partially questioning voice. I explained and she confirmed that the bladder and kidneys were located in the correct place, as well as the relationship to the saddle and their actual jobs.
  • Then, I had to explain why I was asking and what my job is. She didn’t know what my job was. Most days I don’t know much.

Let’s discuss the position your horse adopts during urination.

  • This is often called a “parked-out” stance. His front legs extend forward and his hind legs are extended behind him. It is possible that there is a tilt to his pelvis. Muscles move around to allow him to urinate. The spine and back are also hollowing out.
  • There’s a school that addresses the parked-out position. To make our horse more comfortable while parked out, we should keep him in the stirrups. This may make horses feel more comfortable with their backs hollowed, and it might help them position their legs under their own feet again after urinating.
  • If they are prone to significant leg shifting and changes in their body positions for urinating, should we not help them? Our bodies change their shape and move to enable them to jump under us. The same applies to our bodies shifting when we are parked.

This boils down to the fact that your horse should pee under you if it is uncomfortable. Let’s not get into the “taking pressure off of the kidney’s” thing.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!