Blevins Buckles. Discuss

Here is a brief history to get the discussion started (hopefully).

The writer makes them sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread. IMO she sounds like she has never seen an English saddle or any other working saddles that have straightforward, easily adjustable, buckles.

I am seriously trying to be objective, and open to learning about these buckles and if they’re really great or if all the ones I’ve had to deal with were just in really really bad shape!

Well yes they were a game changer in the western world, and I LOVE them over the other type of “mechanical” buckle, whose name idk not know. I can’t imagine having to lace the leathers to change, though have seen saddles with them on.

I have also seen saddles with a more English style buckle change, and cannot imagine that they are in anyway comfortable, the thickness of the leathers on a western saddle make quite a lump, if they have to make any contours. Hence the ingenuity of the fiat blevins buckle.


Good point. The Blevins buckles are definitely flat. Thanks.
However. My Big Horn had regular buckles, double buckles with two tongues each, and were not bulky under the cordura fenders.


Sorry, to me those double tounged buckles scream “cheaply made”, now and in the past when the Mexican and Sears saddles were common. I have seen a number of the double tongue buckles come undone during rides. Stirrups fall off, rider may lose balance. So I consider them unsafe.

Love the Blevins buckles. Mine are easily adjustable, and I use hobble straps on my stirrups so Blevins buckles cannot come undone when riding. They can be a bear to change if corroded, not square for some reason. I also like the similar, long tongue stirrup buckles with a sliding cover, that are only one hole wide. They also are easily adjusted and flat under the fender, under your legs.

I have not used a cloth saddle, but they are thinner protection under your legs than leather fenders.


I’m in the minority but I was happy with the old fashioned regular buckles. I never could work the blevins ones.

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That is a good point, I agree, about the other buckles being unsafe, coming undone, sometimes. I had not thought about that. Thanks.

I have injured my fingers on Blevins buckles. Maybe the buckles had been damaged, or not well maintained; I don’t know. The only western saddle I’ve ever owned (and cared for myself) had the double-tongue roller-type buckles that I found as easy to adjust for friends as English leathers. Even with the stirrup hobbles that I kept.

The lesson saddle I’m using these days has Blevins buckles. It does not have stirrup hobbles. We’re not doing anything strenuous at the moment (probably never will!).

I mainly just want a quick and easy way to adjust the near-side stirrup so I can let it down for mounting and then shorten the leather once I’m in the saddle.

You will be MUCH happier if you just use a mounting block of some sort. Easier on your hands and fingers, no waiting to start riding, because you had to fiddle with adjusting stirrup each time. Milk crates (metal or marked with dairy name from the side of the road) work great for me as mounting blocks!

Western fender buckles were NEVER made to be adjustable from the saddle. Daily fiddling with adjusting from the saddle is going to get you in trouble. Horse may get jiggy, you hurry, get distracted, things are not firmly seated to lock down the buckle, which can come loose during your ride. Western saddles are a tool. It gets adjusted to the daily user, then left alone. I have NEVER heard of anyone adjusting their own western stirrup from the saddle seat! I would consider it a very unsafe practice, very likely to get you hurt!


Sorry, I should have worded it more clearly – I mean the trainer would shorten the stirrup again once I’m mounted.
We have a mounting block but it’s only a low 2-step and I’m 5’2" and old with stiff joints and the horse is 15 hands.
If I weren’t so old and creaky I would go back to an English saddle lol

As an Official Old & Creaky rider, my vote is Go English!
MUCH less leather to have to heave on & then off horse.

In some 50+yrs riding, I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden Western - including treeless & Aussie - and I’ll stick with my 20# of Stubben.
For some reason, the placement of leathers on Western saddles torques my knees painfully, I end up dropping the stirrups.

For me - as a Driver - the Devil is in the Conway buckle :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:
Give me a regular tongued buckle any day over these finger-pinching, slipsliding horrors!



Don’t fight adjusting the stirrups in a western saddle, try one of these mounting aids:

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I prefer a good Blevins buckle to the English roller-type buckles on Western saddles. They’re pretty straightforward to adjust and they lie flat under the fenders.

I’ve only ridden in one (maybe two) Western saddles without a Blevins and I didn’t like the double-forked buckle. It felt, and was, very cheaply made so it was super hard to adjust. I have the same issue with cheapo English stirrup buckles; I have a pair of cheaper leathers (still $70 a pair) and the tongue of the buckle is floppy and difficult to adjust one-handed in the saddle. The spring-loaded buckles that keep the tongue flat so it easily slips into the holes are a love of mine. I don’t expect to have to adjust my stirrups from a Western saddle so being able to adjust a Blevins one-handed isn’t a priority. I actually have done it occasionally but I was in enclosed arenas on some calm horses. I’d just dismount and adjust if it was trail.

Lesson barn I rode at and worked for had several Western saddles that they put English irons + leathers on. Those were a NIGHTMARE. Changing the leathers was a huge chore which meant no one ever wanted to do it and there were lots of saddles with uneven leathers.

Having seen Blevins buckles both rust shut, becoming completely unadjustable, and fail at inopportune times, I much prefer roller buckles. I still use stirrup hobbles with my roller buckles, so they’re no more likely to fail than a Blevins but much easier to adjust. I also find them to be less bulky under my leg (I’m 5’1" with a 27" inseam) than a Blevins.

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Oh, goodness, I have seen those buckles but I never knew 'til now what they are called!

I felt silly yesterday because the trainer did let down the stirrup for me to mount and did it very quickly and easily with the blevins buckle. She keeps her tack in really good condition, as I used to keep my own.

I keep thinking about going back to English, it’s just that with my age and stiffness and soreness and sudden twinges, I like the secure feeling of western fenders and stirrups and (!!!) horn better than spaghetti-strap English leathers. My muscles and joints don’t always move fast enough when they have to these days, and when they do they sometimes HURT with no warning. I love my bathtub safety bars because they are there to grab if I need to feel secure there, and I guess I want something similar on my saddle, at least 'til I get my riding fitness back (if I ever do).

Wow, I can’t imagine that! Weird! I am seeing several sort of English-western hybrid-looking trail saddles these days online. To me it is like putting a western horn and stirrups on an Australian stock saddle – why would anyone do that?

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I’m 5’2" with a 27" inseam and I feel the same way as you do about the buckles. I guess most western saddles I’ve used have had rusted or bent Blevins buckles because they were downright dangerous to my fingers. I always used stirrup hobbles on my own saddle (I wish now I’d kept it but I didn’t think I’d be riding anymore and I needed the money so I sold it).

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That looks useful. Have you ever tried one?

I have one that I used occasionally with my English saddle.
Used it for a bit when I had a broken rib that made pulling myself up there hard.
Would have worked with the western one also.

This worked better, bought years ago, was the shorter and cheaper one:

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It was for lesson horses! We had a lot of tiny people needing to ride bigger horses. English leathers could be adjusted to roughly any length (if ya’ put enough holes in them) vs Western fenders just don’t adjust that short. We used Western saddles to start people out since they’re like big couches and have a horn to grab if people got unbalanced/scared.


We found a gorgeous monster of a old tub here when we moved in, and currently I can’t use it, because once I’m in I am never getting out I fear🤣

I want safety handles on my bath, yes, and my saddle!

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