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Turning/twisting fender/stirrups

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  • Turning/twisting fender/stirrups

    What is the best way to soften the leather on the saddle fenders to turn or twist them? New saddle and leather is very stiff. I really need to shorten the fenders but the new leather is so stiff that I can't even get the leather to slide where it attaches to the saddle so that I can adjust them.

  • #2
    I would try saddle soap and either neatsfoot oil or some other leather saddle conditioner. You can also store the saddle with a broom handle run through the stirrups to keep them and the fenders turned in the right way to be comfortable.

    NB: I haven't tried this personally but I've had it recommended to me by others. I do like neatsfoot oil on boots and bridlework.

    The broomstick and other methods are recommended by Horse Saddle Shop:

    Good luck!

    Also, Number 2 on this list:

    Rack on!


    • Original Poster

      Thanks, I have the broom stick in them now but the fenders are so stiff that doing anything with them is difficult.


      • #4
        The broom stick works best if you add a weight to the stick.

        We use an old metal can, hung by the wire handle and full of eye hooks.
        Weighs just right to help keep the fenders turned on the stick.

        Best if you wet the fenders first.

        If the saddle has not been oiled well at the saddle store, we generally use neatsfoot oil liberally on a new saddle, let it soak a little, then glycerin soap it to help seal the oil in there.

        Neatsfoot oil will darken the color a bit if you use too much, so try first in a hidden spot.
        Not all leather has been processed the same, you can get surprises when you add any products to it.


        • #5
          Broomstick method, tried and true. Use plain water to wet the leather on both sides of the fenders. To loosen them up in general, you need to manipulate them, meaning, twist, turn, roll, fold. Resist the urge to overcondition, it just gets gloppy and stays stiff. Keep it in a warm place, warm the leather and the conditioner to aid absorption and remember LIGHT coats fully absorbed before adding more. Oh, it’s hard but you need to pull those fenders down to expose the leathers where they go over the bars to get them conditioned. It’s hard, Small paintbrush dipped in light oil can be worked up in that area, usually pretty “ thirsty” so multiple coats.

          And use water on both sides of the fenders so it does get damp enough to take the twist and set from the broomstick.

          Best way to really soften things is ride in the saddle. Have to tell you setting those fenders won’t solve your problems if they are too long for you. I got kid fenders on mine.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            I always give a new saddle (or new-to-me) a good leather conditioner, and then stick the broom handle through it.

            I have small dowels I've bought at hardward stores that I keep in my horse trailer and always keep on a saddle or two, all the time. Seems to keep the ones turned that need to stay turned. My newer saddles are pre-turned and good, but I have a couple older saddles that do better when I keep them turned.

            Also, I often will FOLD the leather on the fenders (for lack of a better term) which also seems to help. This picture is not my saddle, but just one I found on Google that seems to show how there is a crease/bend in the stirrup leather fender itself (toward the bottom) that helps them keep the stirrups turned. Does that make sense?
            It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.


            • #7
              I use baling twine to hold the fender bottom bent back when forming them.
              It doesn't make a crease, it bends back all along where the crease is in that picture.

              The reason for stirrups needing that twist is that without it, you fight them all along and it is very hard on your knees to have to ride doing that.
              Last edited by Bluey; Dec. 20, 2019, 06:47 PM.


              • #8
                Water for twisting.
                for sliding it through the tree to shorten, lots of elbow grease and maybe a friend to hold the saddle for you.


                • #9
                  Better to buy new youth size fenders if you are short legged, than cut off the full size fenders. You can sell the original fender pair alone or keep them to throw in with the saddle when you want to sell it. I sold the kid size 13 inch seat western saddle with 2pr of fenders. Boys seem to get longer legged, still need the smaller seat, so longer stirrup, youth fenders were needed to replace the "kiddy" length of original fenders.

                  I have turned down a lot of western saddles with cut-off fenders, when looking to buy saddles. Cut-off fenders won't let out enough for my "normal", though slightly long, leg length.

                  Have to say watching other folks saddles, kids or small adults riding them, that the cut-off fenders do not seem to swing freely, pulled up tight to the saddle bars. Thick cut leather down by the stirrup neck, is much stiffer to fold around (no extra length there anymore) to get stirrups hanging bent around where you can just slip your foot into it, left or right side of horse.

                  We replaced young daughter's adult size fenders with youth sized fenders after she outgrew the 13 inch seat saddle. She moved up to a 14 inch seat, western saddle. Youth fenders were easily bent into place, STAYED bent for comfortable riding while she was small. They swung freely for her to use her legs to cue her horse as needed, very important to ME, so horse could do what she requested of them. We just put the adult fenders back on her saddle when her legs got longer to fit them..


                  • Original Poster

                    I think the adult size will fit me but the person that put the fenders on for me just did not slide enough leather through the bar.

                    I have it sitting with a weighted metal bar holding the stirrups now.

                    Thanks for suggestions.


                    • #11
                      Ditto the broom handle, it worked wonders on an old saddle that hadn't been used in over 20 years. Neetsfoot oil has always been my go-to for softening leather, just make sure (in my experience) that you get the 100% pure oil, and not a combination of synthetic oils.and give at least 24 hours in between treatments, or it can make the leather "gummy".
                      If you don't have the time to brush it on there, just a rag with warm water and a bit of saddle soap then threading the broom handle through stirrups can do the trick.


                      • #12
                        I soak the fenders with water and then use the broomstick to turn them. Once they have dried (usually overnight), I oil with pure neatsfoot oil.
                        Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse!
                        Anonymous Bedouin legend


                        • #13
                          I take them to my local saddler and pay him to put a Hamley twist on my fenders. Much easier than broomsticks and such.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Showbizz View Post
                            I take them to my local saddler and pay him to put a Hamley twist on my fenders. Much easier than broomsticks and such.
                            Thank you for finally suggesting it. Whatever you call it Hamley, Oregon, Nevada twist, it'll make the difference on even the worst leather.


                            • #15
                              Oil the crap out of the leather, then use the broom handle. Of course when I was a kid the dark oiled tack was the in thing. I dunked mine in the water tub for a few minutes, pulled it out and towel dried the leather. Then oiled it and used the broom handle. Worked great. Wouldn't recommend this for the lighter oiled tack though lol. Have done the same with breaking in english tall boots.


                              • #16
                                Soak in very hot water. Adjust to where you need it. Do the broomstick thing. Once the broomstick is in put a 10lb bag of lead shot in each stirrup at a minimum to give good weight or put the saddle up high and hang something heavy off the middle of the broom stick. I use 50lbs of lead bars in a box hung off the middle of the stick out in my shop. If you have access to lead or lead shot that typically makes great weight in a fairly small package. Once everything is twisted and hung let it dry fully that way. Then oil everything with harness oil and let it hang another night twisted and weighted. When I put my saddle away each day I twist them and put the broomstick in and a 10lb bag of steel shot in each stirrup on top of the stick because I don't want the lead in the house with my kids so I use steel shot bags instead.
                                A cadenced horse is not a sleepy horse. It is a horse on whom one can rest, but who remains powerful. - Nuno Oliveira.


                                • #17
                                  I remove the stirrups and run the broom through that gap where the stirrup would rest. Wet it well, turn them, weighted broomstick, leave it a day or two. Slather all of it with neatsfoot oil (NOT COMPOUND) if darkening the leather is ok with you. If not, harness oil. Keep them broomed through the stirrups for a while til they are set.