Well Turned Stirrups

Posted in: Featured, Horse Supplies, Ranch Life

I see them at nearly every youth event and on social media. The dreaded un-turned stirrups on a saddle. It’s bad enough on an adult’s saddle, but when I see it on a kid’s saddle it worries me as they can really use the stability of a well turned stirrup that hangs right. With as many unturned stirrups as I see, I have to assume that many people don’t know how to go about getting them turned and set.

Besides being unsightly (you look like a gunsel), the unturned stirrups are really hard on the knees with the relentless pressure of the foot being twisted toward the horse. Most children I see riding saddles with unturned stirrups simply forego the use of the stirrups, which puts them at risk of falling off.

So, I’ll tell you how I learned to do it 40 some years ago when I got my first new saddle and have used this method on everything since. Even getting new leathers put in a saddle can cause one to have to re-turn the stirrups.

While the saddle is on the saddle rack or even the top rail of a fence in the shed, twist the stirrups out and run a stick through them. If possible, hang a bucket with lots of weight in it on the stick. Some people will dip the stirrups a foot or so in water and let them soak to soften the leather, but I don’t like to do that as it changes the leather, in my opinion. I’ll use olive oil to soften the leather front and back and that seems to work fine.


When a saddle isn’t in use, putting a stick through the stirrups will keep them turned properly.

Each time I’m done using the saddle I’ll hang it back like that until the stirrups will stay turned. If a saddle is going to be hanging in “storage” for a while, leave it with the stick so it will stay turned.


A twist will help keep a stirrup turned, especially if the stirrup leather is very heavy.

If you can have a twist put in the stirrup leathers that will turn the stirrups too, but not all people like those and with little kids saddles there may not be enough stirrup leather to work with. However you do it to achieve the turned stirrup, you’ll benefit from the effort. Your knees will thank you too.

Posted in: Featured, Horse Supplies, Ranch Life

About Jan Swan Wood

Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....

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