How to Replace the Bottom of a Western Saddle

The underside of a Western saddle is usually lined in sheepskin.
The underside of a Western saddle is usually lined in sheepskin. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

On the underside of almost all Western saddles is a sheepskin lining that not only provides additional cushion for the horse's back but also helps hold the saddle blankets in place to avoid irritating movement. Because a saddle in a long-term investment for most horse owners, proper care and maintenance of the saddle is a must and occasionally some parts will need to be replaced. If you have a good understanding of saddle construction, replacing the sheepskin lining can be a do-it-yourself project, saving you the cost of hiring a professional.

Things You'll Need

  • Saddle
  • Screwdriver
  • Nippers
  • Carpenter's pencil
  • Sheepskin
  • Utility knife
  • Glue
  • Awl
  • Waxed cotton thread
  • Leather stitching needle
  • Nails, 1 to 1 1/4 inch
  • Tack hammer

Remove the saddle skirt. It is easiest to remove if all the pieces of the saddle have been loosened first. Force the screwdriver between the skirt and the tree to work the nail heads out slightly. Once you have found the nails through the existing sheepskin, use the nippers to pull them out. Be sure all nails are removed before attempting to remove the skirt.

Strip old sheepskin from skirt. Be sure all traces of the old lining are removed.

Trace the skirt on the new sheepskin with the carpenter's pencil or other writing instrument. To do this, lay the skirt with the bottom down onto the new sheepskin with its hide side up.

After marking, cut the sheepskin to match the skirt using a utility knife. Glue the sheepskin to the skirt.

Punch holes along the edge of the lining using the awl. Sew the lining to the skirt using waxed cotton thread and a leather needle.

Reassemble the saddle, tacking the skirt back to the tree with new nails.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean the skirt while it is removed from the saddle and before attaching the new sheepskin. Skirts are difficult to clean when attached to the saddle so make use of the opportunity.
  • Do not attempt this project unless you are certain that you can reassemble the saddle. Missteps may involve more cost than you would have incurred by simply paying a professional at the outset. When removing nails to detach the skirt from the saddle, take extreme care to not pull nail heads through the leather, creating holes that make reassembly difficult.

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