How to Repair a Saddle Yourself

By Ragnar Danneskjold

Items you will need

  • Sharp knife or shears

  • Heavy harness leather

  • Marker

  • Measuring tape

  • Copper rivets

  • Rivet setter

  • Hole punch

  • Rivet setting anvil

Saddles are hard-use items. Even the gentlest, most well-broke saddle horse puts a great deal of stress on even the most well-made saddle. Among the most common damages to any saddle, western or English, are broken stirrup leathers. Repairing a broken stirrup leather is a simple process requiring only the use of minimal equipment to make a repair that will allow for safe continued use of the saddle.

Use your knife to cut the edges of the torn stirrup leathers off square and even. Remove as little leather as possible while ensuring a clean working edge.

Cut a piece of heavy harness leather with your shears. Cut the leather large enough to patch over the torn area of the stirrup leather, while also allowing enough extra material for rivets to be set.

Punch at least four holes, equidistant apart, around the perimeter of the harness leather patch.

Lay the harness leather patch on the torn stirrup leather, so that it covers the patch adequately. Mark the locations of the holes in the harness leather patch with your Sharpie marker onto the stirrup leather itself.

Use your hole punch to punch holes in the stirrup leather at the locations marked with the Sharpie marker.

Place the harness leather patch back onto the stirrup leather, so that the punched holes align. Place the male portion of the copper rivets into the holes.

Set the base of the male portion of the copper rivet on your rivet setting anvil. Place the female portion of the copper rivets over the end of the male portion. Place the rivet setter above the female portion on the end of the male portion of the copper rivet. Tap the rivet setter on the end with a mallet to set the rivet.

Use your wire nippers to cut off the end of the male portion of the rivet. Tap the cut-off end with the head of your ball peen hammer in order to peen the end, keeping the female portion from falling off. Repeat for all of the rivets in the harness leather patch.

Use your shears to trim the edges of the harness leather patch to match the fit of the original stirrup leather. This will prevent unintended galling of the horse’s sides from the patch rubbing while you're riding.

References (2)

  • "Making and Repairing Western Saddles"; Dave Jones; 1982
  • "Saddlemaking: Lessons in Construction, Repair, and Evaluation"; Dusty Johnson; 1993

Author

A classical Rennaissance man since serving in the U.S. Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, Ragnar Danneskjold has worked as a ranch cowboy, a Department of Defense contractor, a strength and conditioning coach, a martial arts instructor, a freelance writer and a horse trainer.

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