Inspired by Family
David Shano, founder of American Equus, drew his inspiration for his first stirrup from his daughter, Chloe. At the time, 14-year-old Chloe had trouble keeping her stirrups, and as she began jumping and riding horses over ponies, David set about applying his background in design, machining, and problem-solving to help his daughter keep her stirrups.
After browsing European stirrups available at the time and analyzing his daughter’s every lesson, Shano was convinced he could improve on existing stirrups. He set about to create a product that would no only keep Chloe’s foot solidly in the stirrup, but also make sure that her leg stayed in line with her shoulders and hips.
After an early version and several iterations, David and Chloe decided that they had built the perfect stirrup.
Into the Racing World
Slowly but surely demand for David’s stirrups grew as word began to spread. A young jockey apprentice contacted Shano and suggested that he make a stirrup for racing. Following some initial conversations and discoveries, Shano develop their first Thoroughbred Racing Icon with traction pins. Word spread like wildfire through social media, and after connecting with Ricardo Santana Jr., the business took off.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was particularly impressed with Shano’s handiwork. “Jockeys are in a unique position where we are doing something incredibly physical with very little gear. Everything has to be as light as possible, so I was really impressed by how light the American Equus irons were and how large the footbed was.”
Mike Smith with David Shano and his daughter Chloe.
Winning Big Races Thanks to Stirrups
Before 2018, Mike Smith had won each of the individual Triple Crown races, but never all three. He had many championship wins under his belt, and in January 2017, things began to take off. Throughout 2017 and into 2018, Smith won numerous races including the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup.
By 2018, 16 of the world’s most elite jockeys were riding in American Equus racing irons. The Kentucky Derby that year was a particularly wet year, and Mike Smith made history, beating 23 of the world’s best race horses on Justify, a young chestnut stallion who had not raced as a two year old.
“I really depend on my irons in conditions like that,” explained Smith. “I don’t worry about losing my stirrups when I get bumped or when it’s wet, which allowed me to focus on giving Justify the best ride that I could…”
The Following race, the Preakness Stakes, proved to be equally as wet and dreary. A tough and close race, Smith won again on Justify and texted Shano after the race saying he wouldn’t have been able to ride as he did without his irons.
Smith went on to win the Triple Crown that year, a great celebration for the Hall-of-fame rider and the American Equus team. That’s when we knew were on to something big with American Equus irons.