Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to Twist & Wrap Your Stirrup Leathers on a Western Saddle

Do It Yourself!

(Also known as Hamley Twist, Nevada Twist, Cowboy Twist and Arizona Twist)

I created this blog to hopefully help others who have a western saddle and would like to twist and wrap their stirrup leathers to lessen the strain on their knees.  For lack of finding a saddle shop who could do it for me, I decided to try it myself.  It ended up costing me less than $20!

I searched the internet for one site with easy to understand visual step by step instructions.  I didn't exactly find that though, so I took bits and pieces from what I could find and below is what I ended up doing.  I did have an advantage in that I have a Crates saddle I purchased used which has wrapped stirrup leathers (I don't believe it came from Crates that way though), which gave me something to copy!

(Note:  Click on photos for an enlarged view and to scroll through photos.)

First, a photo of the wrapped stirrup leather on the Crates saddle that I followed as an example.

Supplies I used:
  1. Utility knife
  2. One piece 1/2" x 72" latigo (I bought a pack of Weaver saddle strings at Tractor Supply)
  3. (Optional) Piece of baler twine
  4. Saddle Oil (I used Hydrophane Darkening Oil since I had it on hand and my saddle is mahogany)
  5. A bucket and warm water

To get ready, put your saddle on a saddle stand.  Remove the stirrup hobbles, unbuckle the Blevin Buckles and remove the stirrups.  Oil both sides of the length of fender neck and stirrup leathers which will be set and wrapped.   Reverse the sliding piece of the Blevins Buckle and turn the piece with the prongs so that it now fastens facing the horse.

After I oiled, I left my saddle sit as pictured for two days (I don't know that it's necessary to let it sit, but that's what I did and the leather was nice and supple when I went to fold it.)

Take the utility knife and cut a slit near one end of the length of latigo.  You want the slit wide enough to feed the other end of the latigo strap through.  (If using a 72" length of latigo, you may want to cut it in half so it's easier to work with.)

Then I practiced wrapping the leather on an old pole.

So, to start the wrap, you'll slip the one end of the latigo through the slit you made near the other end (making a loop) and pull strap snug (but not too tight at this point) around the pole, then continue with three more full spiral wraps around the pole.  Then feed the latigo up and beneath the wraps (which will actually be easier on the stirrup leathers because you'll be feeding it up through the hollow of the folded stirrup leather), coming over the top of the first wrap and feed back down underneath the remaining three wraps of strap.  Snug it up tight to see what your finished wrap will look like.  Don't cut the excess the excess leather off though, because this was just practice and you'll want to use the latigo strap for your actual wrapping of the stirrup leathers.

Get your bucket with very warm water and soak the length of stirrup leather for 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove and dab dry with a hand towel.

 Now you are ready to do the actual wrap!  (Note in the photo below, the view of the wrap is upside down compared to that shown on the practice pole in the above photo.)
Since I didn't have someone around to help hold, I used baler twine to tie my folded leathers.  Fold the rough sides together.  Start wrapping; start by placing the looped end of the latigo closest to the buckle end, same as you practiced, continue with 3 more spirals.  Again, at this point, don't wrap too tightly because you will be feeding the one end of the latigo up between the folded leather.

You're almost finished.  You may have to loosen the leather wrapping just enough to feed the strap down under the 3 wraps.  Don't worry, you'll be able to snug it up and tighten as the last step.

See, pulled tight!

Now just cut off the extra length of latigo strap....

put your stirrup back on, fasten the Blevins Buckle in the position so it is now facing the horse, buckle your stirrup hobble....

 AND you have your finished project.... twist & wrapped stirrups!

Please leave me a comment and let me know if you found this at all helpful!