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Sores from Blevins slide on stirrup leathers?

I am a newbie to riding my horse in a western saddle, and am having issues with him developing sores on his sides from what appears to be the Blevins slide. It is a hard slide with a leather cover, and I even put some fleece over the top of it, but after riding today, he still developed sores from a 30-60 minute trail ride. The sores appear behind the cinch, so are definitely not from the cinch. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I can get more comfortable stirrup leather slides? It is a Crates saddle if that helps, and seems to fit us both everywhere else.

Or, if there is nothing I can do about the slides, should I get different stirrup leathers or fenders?

Sounds like you need someone to take some photos of you in the saddle. Or get a skilled Western person to watch you ride the horse.

Is saddle new, stiff? Fenders so stiff making your toes point inward in the stirrups, not outward when you ride?

Other ideas which observer or photo can show you, is if your posture, leg position, could be pushing the buckle cover into the side of horse. Folks that weight their stirrups heavily, can do that rubbing of horse with buckles. How the stirrups are adjusted, could make the buckles fall into a bad location, outside of the ribs, so the edges can’t avoid rubbing. Tired riders on longer rides will “save themselves” by sitting unevenly to avoid pain. They put more weight in one leg or the other, more weight on one side of bottom than the other, which throws the legs off too. Are sores on both sides of horse?

Making the fender area higher up towards the seat or lower fender is lower down, could move the buckles enough to remove the problem. Short legged folks can have problems with fenders so tight up to the seat area, there is no adjustment you can make that still lets them reach the stirrups. Buckles are stuck in only one location.

There is also the method of twisting the fender and securing it with a strap or string, so stirrups are ALWAYS sideways to the saddle, allowing toes to point straight ahead with no effort by your legs. It can help get the buckles away from the horse, with no work by you! Around here, they call the twist “the Trail Rider Twist”, since they are the ones usually putting in the most riding distances and time. Big knee saver too! Other places call the twist by other names. Not hard to do yourself, just need a long leather saddle string for the wrapping part.

Thank you Goodhors. I did take pictures, but can’t figure out how to post them here. The sores are on both sides, and yes, it is a new saddle. Maybe I will just need to work on twisting the fenders and see if that works. I also recently shortened the stirrups one notch, so I may just put them back where they were because he didn’t seem to have sores then…although, I feel more comfortable with them one hole shorter.

Maybe you can put up the photos on another site like Photobucket, make album open to all, then post the link on here for us to go look at them.

You have to be a Premium Member to post photos here on COTH.

Okay. Here are the pictures of the left side…maybe my fenders are too far back?


Okay. Here are the pictures of the left side…maybe my fenders are too far back?


Ouch. Hmm, can you vet wrap them? You might want to have a saddler do a hamley twist so the blevins face more forward. The fenders can be slid thru to move the blevin position. Did you buy the saddle locally? Some saddles have a couple layers of stirrup leather. I have had saddle fenders changed to a half leather or only one layer under the fender. I think a good saddler could help you if you have one near you. This isn’t something I have had a problem with.

You need to get your stirrups twisted - either find a saddler to do a Hamley twist or do the broomstick method (you can google that). Either will get the Blevins off his sides.

In the meantime try vet wrapping the buckles.

Thanks guys! I was thinking of vet wrap after the fleece didn’t seem to work. As far as the broomstick method…how long does it usually take to get the stirrups to permanently turn, or do you just always do that when the saddle is on the rack?

If you condition the saddle well you can get it started in a few days. Then put the stick back in every time you put it on the rack for a few months. As the saddle gets more broken in and the fenders soften up the turn will hold better. Eventually you won’t need to do it any more.

I told you that twist had a lot of names! Never heard of the Hamley name for it.

With such a new saddle, I am going to say the broomstick method is going to take LOTS longer to get fenders twisted and soft, than doing the twist and just getting it DONE. I have elderly saddles, ridden often in good condition, that did the stick thing and STILL want to pull my toes inward. This is why I learned about the twisting of fender leathers, because knees didn’t like leg being cranked by the fender. Leather is what it is, and it WANTS to hang straight down, not with stirrup turned for your foot.

I would NOT use Vet Wrap to cover the buckle, it is sticky, probably make things worse on that sore. Not sure if a tack shop could cover the whole buckle with soft leather, latigo?, blunt the edges kind of idea. Covering might make it a bit harder to change lengths, but would pad the horse from buckle edges.
I have put some new covers on my old Blevins buckles, they wore out the original leather. Had to wet the leather, sew the covering piece on wet so it shrunk down tight to stay in place. Not hard, just takes some time.

Not sure if this would help, but in the photo, your fender hangs down some from the tree on the fender strap. Can you push fender part UP, so the fender area is more under the seat jockey flap, letting the strap where you hang the stirrup be longer? You now have stirrup tight to the bottom of fender flap, so maybe lengthening that section, then putting on the hobble strap, will move the buckle lower off his wide part of the ribs. Your stirrup on fender is the same length, but there will be more strap showing from bottom of fender flap to where it goes thru the stirrup top, in that hobble strap area.

Here is a link to how to twist the fender/stirrup. Maybe that will get the buckle forward and away from the horse body.


Okay. Thank you. It is a Crates saddle, so I sent a message to the company to see if they can offer any suggestions, or if they can refer me to a local saddler to see about doing a permanent “Hamley Twist.” For now, I oiled down my stirrup leathers and fenders really good, and put a 2x4 through the stirrups to turn them. I will have to look at the saddle again to see about lengthening the stirrups as you suggested goodhors. FYI, I am in the Ann Arbor, MI area. I see that you are in Michigan also. Do you know of any good saddlers in the area?

Can’t help you with a saddler or good Tack Store in that area. We are more central, between Lansing and Flint. Tom’s Western Store in Ovid does a lot of work and showed me how to do that twist on my own saddle. There are other saddle repair folks in the area here, I just don’t know the Western ones much.

Not sure if any of us mentioned wetting the fenders with water, to help reshape them while using the twisting of stirrups method with the stick. It helps “train” them, but still won’t make the fenders stay bent when stick is removed.

I’m not really optimistic that adding a twist will help here. The fender won’t really be affected much in the area that’s rubbing. Likewise, wrapping anything around the item that’s already jabbing him will only make it project more.

Is this the item that’s causing the rub?

If so, can you check if there are any sharp edges on either the leather or burrs in the metal on the slide? Newer Blevins are known to be poorer in quality.

You may have to either remove the leather cover to reduce thickness there, or get a cheap edger from something like Tandy to dull down the edge.

Another option if this is the cause is to change out for Superior buckles:

I like them better, myself. I actually prefer old-style laced over both, but I’m very much in the minority with that opinion.

Thanks Atkill. Yes! That is the item that is causing all of the trouble! I did end up using the broomstick method to twist the stirrups, but not sure if that was the issue. The slide is fairly thick, and I have to use more leg with my horse than would be typically used, so probably more rubbing going on there than normal. Although, I ended up wrapping it in vet wrap, and then putting a fleece cover over the top of that. That seemed to work so far, but it is good to know there are other buckle options out there too. I haven’t heard back from Crates yet, so am wondering if there is something they can suggest.

Okay. I just want to preface this with stating I am a newbie to western saddles…but, I had a lightbulb moment yesterday with the stirrup leather/blevins slide fit. A few of you have mentioned adjusting the location of the slide by moving the fender/stirrup leathers, which I was just not figuring out! I thought they were permanently affixed and couldn’t be adjusted. Well, lo and behold, I looked up underneath the side jockey flap, and found that they could be adjusted. So, I think that takes care of my issue. Yay! One of these days I will figure out all of the nuances of a western saddle! LOL! Thanks to all for the advice!

That’ll do it! Good stuff. Be careful about taking them out to clean. Bit of a fight to get back through without a shim or two.

Glad to hear that you think problem is solved. Holler back if it doesn’t work.

It’s a little late but I had the same problem on my DH’s horse before they both discovered dressage. We vet wrapped the buckles and never had a problem again. We used matching vet wrap and even showed in the saddle with no one ever knowing we were sporting a redneck repair.

If you’re the only one who uses the saddle, consider removing the Blevins buckles and using the old-school lace-through-holes method. You may be surprised how much less bulky the fender will feel, and since you say you have to use quite a bit of leg, that would be a good thing.

You can also have a saddle repair shop slide the fender off and turn the Blevins buckle around so it’s on the inside then run the leather on the inside down and under your stirrup. Or DIY but getting it back on is no fun.

I had that done because I am short and it put that extra length of leather on the inside of the thing instead of hanging down in front of my toe…however if you have real thick leather on that, it won’t curl under your stirrup at first but will in time. I ordered my custom saddle that way, most makers offer it either way.

Hooe you follow what Im talking about here. It’s not that complicated IRL when you are looking at it.

And you bet I followed the broomstick method starting with wet fenders, even stored the saddle that way until it loosened up and really broke in.