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!





45 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for letting me know, happy to hear.

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  2. Great article with great pics. My new saddle arrives in a couple of days and I will surely be doing this method of turning my stirrups. Broom handles never worked for me in the past. Looking forward to a more permanent solution. Thanks.

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    1. You're very welcome! It sure helps save the knees!

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  3. Great blog post! However, I have a question...

    I recently had my stirrups wrapped but because I have such short legs there is a foot or longer of leather hanging. Someone has suggested I fold it up and secure with my stirrup hobbles. However, the hobbles aren't long enough. What does one do with all that extra leather? I'm tempted to cut it off.

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    1. Hi Jennifer, I'm curious to see what suggestion folks have for that much excess leather. Could you use a piece of tied latigo in place of the hobbles?? Probably wouldn't look as nice though.

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  4. This is the best post that I have found on this subject so far. Thanks for the info and pictures. Fabulous!

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    1. Thanks for the nice words and letting me know!

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  5. One advantage of your method over the broom handle, water soaking, and heavy weights is that your method really works; worked for us on old and new saddles, at least in New Zealand. Arnold

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  6. Wonderful! Glad to be of help!

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  7. Great pictures and your directions are easy to understand. I just thought I'd suggest using leather conditioner or oil before you wet the leather down, and apply more after the leather has dried completely to keep the natural oils in the leather from drying.

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    1. Thanks Judge for the nice words. Re the oiling, note above in one of the first steps before soaking, to oil both sides of the fender necks and stirrup leathers (and I suggest letting it then sit 2 days before soaking). Good reminder though for folks to oil after project is completed if they don't routinely condition and oil their leather anyway.

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  8. Nice! I really have to try this on my old Continental saddle! Was planning on doing the broomtwist but I think this one is really much nicer. I´ll try this later this evening. Thank you very much.
    /Elin from Sweden

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment! Hope it turns out good for you... let me know!

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    2. I love it! The stirrups stays fit much better on my foot. And it looks great! Thank you!
      /Elin from Sweden

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  9. I just bought a mule saddle for my son. Got it shipped to the house. It had this already done to the stirrups. I have never seen this before, so I removed the leather wraps from the stirrups. Ack! Just read this so I put the leather wraps back on. It was easy to do since the leather was still shaped from being wrapped. Good thing I found this blog!!! Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Yea, usually have to pay extra to have the saddle maker twist the stirrup leathers, if they'll even do it at all! Sounds like you have a saddle maker that makes it a standard feature... nice.

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  10. Great tutorial!!! May I share this on my blog with a link to this? My blog is dashingbigred.blogspot.com and is about trailriding. Thanks!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks!
      Sure, feel free to share :-)

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  11. quick question, what if someone else wants to jump on my saddle (which I don't usually do...) and needs the stirrups lengthened (I have short legs)?
    are the stirrups still adjustable with the wraps on?
    Thanks,
    Leanne

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    Replies
    1. The wrap isn't on the leather that has the holes punched in it, so you can still move the buckle placement up or down. You might not be able to put the buckle into the lowest holes (that would give you the longest length) though.

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    2. very good, thanks for the quick response! your description and pictures are awesome, enough to make me think I can do this! :)
      I never need to have the buckle on the lowest holes, tho!

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  12. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I'm going to try it this week on an old saddle that's pretty dried out so will need lots of oil. What was the actual length of Latino strap that you ended up using?

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    1. You're welcome! Sorry, I didn't measure the length of the latigo. I bought a pack of Weaver latigo pieces at Tractor Supply. I don't remember if they were assorted lengths, but I know the one long length I used was long enough to do both stirrups. I would guess though if you had a 32" long piece it would be long enough for turning one stirrup and have a little excess to trim off.

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  13. Edit. Just look at the notes above for supplies needed and I see I did make note .... one 72" piece is long enough to do both stirrups.

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  14. Thank you! So ready to do this. Tired of achy knees. As I wait for my new helmet I'll be doing this. Fell three weeks ago and cracked helmet. Mayor concussion. Recuperating well. I'm thinking that an intact brain and no more achy knees is a win win situation! Thank you so much!

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  15. Oweee, so sorry to hear about your fall. Glad you are on the mend. Yes, this little project will be time well spent while you are recuperating... a worthwhile project for sure :-)

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  16. The first step, says to flip the piece with the prongs to fasten facing your horse. What if they already fasten facing your horse? Do I have to take them out somehow and turn them that way? I'm confused. My saddle is a crates saddle also.

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  17. If your stirrup fenders are already turned so the Blevins buckle prongs are facing your horse's barrel, just start at that step (should look like how they are in the first step photo). Seems unusual that they would already be flipped around like that, unless maybe the stirrup fenders were previously twisted & wrapped and someone removed the wrapping. Did you buy the saddle used?

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  18. I have a High Horse El Dorado synthetic saddle with Cordura fenders. I used your method, but skipped the soaking. It works great! Thank you so much for your clear instructions.

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    Replies
    1. Wonderful! Thanks for letting me know the instructions were helpful to you!

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  19. Sounds easy enough for me to do great instructions. My grand daughters saddle is done that way.thanks for doing this article.

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  20. The person who had the prongs already fastening towards the horse never followed up! Well, I just got a used saddle king roping saddle and it also has the prongs fastening towards the horse. The fenders are not wrapped, never were wrapped (I am a leather worker so I'm pretty dang sure of this) and now I am also confused. I wet and wrapped one of them anyway and it seems to help it sit correctly, but it's not as good as yours looks. :(

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    1. Maybe a previous owner reversed the Blevins buckle hoping that alone would set the fender more comfortably??

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  21. I'm looking at a saddle to buy that says it has Hanley twist sturrups is this ok to use in a western pleasure class?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry I don't have an answer. Maybe someone who knows for sure will chime in.

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  22. thanks for taking the time to do this up for us to view...well done it was great

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  23. Just what I was looking for, thank you

    Marion, SavvyAcres.com

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    Replies
    1. Wonderful! Glad it was of some help!

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  24. My stirrup leathers have regular buckles, not Blevins quick-change buckles. I am concerned that the side of the buckle will be uncomfortable against my horse's sides.

    Do you know if this is a valid concern?

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  25. Hi! After all the wrapping is done, do I continue to use the blevins buckles with the prongs facing the horse or do those go back to the way they were before? Looks from the picture like a whole lot of buckle would be showing, or is that just the angle of the picture? (I'm on the first step, just oiled the leathers and am letting them set). Thanks!

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