How to Change the Stirrup Leathers on a Western Saddle

Western leathers are a part of the saddle.
Western leathers are a part of the saddle. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The only time western stirrup leathers are changed is when they're damaged to the point where they can't be repaired and the saddle can no longer be used. Many western leathers are physically attached to the fender and changing them can change the appearance of the saddle. If done improperly, changing the leathers can damage the saddle. Use caution when changing out the leathers on a western saddle and contact a saddle-repair professional if you have any problems completing the task.

Things You'll Need

  • New leathers
  • New Blevins buckles
  • Fishing line
  • Drill

Lift up the fender to expose the metal buckle holding the stirrup leather together. Slide the leather loose of the buckle and remove the metal sleeve that holds the leather and Blevins buckle in place.

Grasp the leather and fender firmly and pull the fender and leather off the saddle. This may take a significant amount of effort; they're not designed to be removed easily.

Remove the fender from the leather. In most cases this will involve undrilling the screws fastening the fenders to the leathers and then reattaching them to the new leathers. In some cases, the leathers can't be unscrewed and will have to be cut; this is an extremely delicate process that can ruin the appearance of the saddle permanently if not done by a professional leather repair person with saddle experience. Don't attempt to cut fenders off stirrup leathers; take them to a professional to be removed and reattached to new leathers.

Tie fishing line or some other strong string to the new leathers; then run them back through the saddle. Some people may opt to remove the screws near the swell and cantle that are holding the saddle together. Removing the screws may make the task easier. Pull the stirrup leathers back into the correct position.

Reattach the fenders onto the new stirrup leathers. The easiest way to reattach fenders is to use a leather hole punch to punch holes in the new leathers and then screw the fenders into place. If the fenders need to be sewn into place, take them to a leather repair shop and have it done professionally because it requires special tools. Attach the new buckles to the leathers and fasten the leathers together.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to change out the stirrup leathers because they're too long, you may be able to flip the metal Blevins buckle to shorten the leathers rather than having to fully replace them.
  • Repairs should be made by an expert if you have any doubt about your ability to perform the repairs correctly.

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