Western Saddle Guide

Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Parts > Stirrup Leathers

The Stirrup Leathers

The stirrup leathers are long straps that attach the stirrups to the saddle tree. These straps should be made from thick, top quality leather. It's important that the two leathers be made from the same hide so that they will stretch evenly.

On western saddles stirrup leathers are usually 3 inches wide, although some competition saddles have 2 to 2 1/2 inch wide leathers to lighten the weight and bulk. Additionally, some lower quality factory saddles use narrower leathers to cut costs.

The length of stirrup leathers are adjusted with the use of "quick change" buckles on most modern saddles. The old timers had to struggle with leather laces that made changing the lengths for different riders a real chore. The most popular quick change buckle is the Blevins buckle. The Blevins buckle has a leather-covered sleeve with one or two metal pegs (horizontal or vertical) that insert into corresponding holes on the leathers. The holes must be positioned exactly the same on both leathers to ensure balance between the two. The buckle should be positioned so that it falls between the rider's ankle and knee, which provides the best comfort and movement.

blevins buckle
Blevins Buckle

For comfort, the leathers need to be turned so that the stirrups are facing forward, at a 90 degree angle to the fenders. In this position, the stirrup is in the correct postion for the rider to slip his foot in. Most custom saddle makers construct their saddles so that the stirrups are twisted to this forward position.

With most manufactured saddles, however, you'll have to "train" your stirrups by wetting the fenders and placing a broomstick or 2x4 through the stirrups while not in use. Over time, the stirrups will turn. Riding in unturned stirrups is a sure way to age your knees.

Check out the fenders page to learn how the stirrup leathers are attached to the fenders.



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