How To Put Stirrups On A Western Saddle

Last Updated on March 10, 2022

Do you want to learn how to put stirrups on a western saddle? Even if you’re new to western tack, setting up your saddle is easier than it looks. Here we will describe and show you exactly what to do, and you’ll be a pro at it in no time!

Can You Put Any Type Of Stirrups On A Western Saddle?

The quick answer to this question is no. Use only western stirrups on a western saddle. Even if you think a different type of stirrup will do, it is compromising your riding and safety. 

Western saddles have wide stirrup leather, much wider than you see on an English saddle. These stirrup leathers are called fenders. The bottom part of the fender goes around the top of the stirrup, while the top attaches to the bar under the seat jockey.

The seat jockey is a piece of leather found attached to the saddle’s seat, towards the front. This protects the rider’s legs from the fenders. What western stirrups you use is down to personal preference.

Can You Put Any Type Of Stirrups On A Western Saddle

What You Need

  • Western saddle
  • A pair of Fenders
  • A pair of western stirrups

How To Put Stirrups On A Western Saddle

Now that you have the necessary equipment, let’s take a look at how to put the stirrups on and adjust them.

1. Put The Fenders On The Saddle

You may not have to put the fenders on the saddle as most western saddles come with them already attached. However, it is good to know how to attach the fenders if you ever want to replace the ones you have. Assuming you want to replace the current fenders, the first step is to unbuckle the stirrup leather and slide the stirrup off. 

Holding the fender at the end that contains the buckle, pull it down and away from the saddle. You will see that the fender slides out from under the jockey skirt. Next, take the stirrup keeper and Blevins off of the new fenders.

Push the new fender over the stirrup bar, located under the jockey skirt. Tip the saddle up so you can see its underside. Pull the fender through from under the saddle.

Push the fender back to the outside of the saddle, moving it under the stirrup bar. Next, pull the leather out until it is tight with the wide stirrup flaps.

CHALLENGER Horse Western Leather Replacement Saddle Fenders Pair

2. Attach The Stirrups To The Fenders

First, if they are removed, put the Blevins on the fenders. To do this, simply slide the Blevin over the stirrup leather. Next, loop the leather through the stirrup at the top.

This is the narrower part of the stirrup that contains a bar. When looping the stirrup leather through the stirrup, the side with the metal posts faces the saddle. Push the bars through your desire holes.

Slide the Blevin down, securing the metal posts in place.

Check out The Parts of a Saddle

How To Adjust Western Saddle Stirrups

Stirrup length is one of the most important elements that affect your riding. The length of the stirrup needs adjusting in line with how long your legs are and the riding activity you want to do. Where you place your stirrups on your western saddle can have a positive or negative effect on your riding.

One study, using adjustable stirrup bars, found that placement, particularly with an experienced rider not only changed the rider’s position but also changed where the forces of the rider fell on the horse’s back. This rider found forward placement more comfortable and rode in a better position. While a less experienced rider wasn’t affected by stirrup placement.

Don’t worry if your saddle doesn’t have adjustable stirrup bars. The main goal is the correct adjustment for you. Initially, you may find adjusting western stirrups tricky, but you will quickly get the hang of it.

Follow These Steps To Adjust Your Stirrups If They Have Blevin Buckles

1. Hold the stirrup in one hand.

2. Pull the metal slide, which is sometimes covered with leather away from the stirrup towards the saddle. Doing this exposes the posts that fit into the stirrup leather holes. 

3. Pull the metal posts out of the holes and move them up if you want to shorten your stirrups or down if you want to lengthen them.

4. Remember how many holes you moved the posts.

5. Pull the metal slide back down over the posts. This will lock them into place.

6. If your stirrups have a stirrup keeper put this back in place.

7. Follow the same steps on the opposite stirrup, remembering what hole the posts went through, so your stirrups are even.

Read more about Types of Western Bits – Just “A Bit”

Tips On How To Put Stirrups On A Western Saddle

  • Use matching pairs of western stirrups and fenders. In order words, buy a set. This ensures they are of the same style and type. Using a mismatched pair could affect your balance and evenness in the saddle.
  • The stirrup keeper, sometimes called a stirrup hobble, helps turn the stirrups to a 90-degree angle. This makes getting your feet into the stirrups easier and relieves knee pressure while riding.
  • Fenders take a lot of stress. Regularly check them entirely, looking for weakness. If you think they are starting to look worn, it is safest to replace them.
Tips On How To Put Stirrups On A Western Saddle


We hope this tutorial made the task of putting stirrups on a western saddle less daunting. Correctly attaching your stirrups and ensuring they are even is essential to good and safe horse riding. If you have any questions feel free to comment below.

If you liked this tutorial and found it helpful, please share it with others you think would help.

Which way do stirrups go on a saddle?

Safety stirrups should be equipped with an unlocking mechanism or have one open side. The open side of the stirrup (or a side with an unlocking mechanism) should be facing outward at all times when your foot is in the stirrup. That means that the open side should be closer to the knee pad of the saddle after the stirrups have been attached.

How should stirrup leathers hang?

That depends under what angle you want the stirrups to hang. Most people cut a notch in the top of the bar, above the stirrup slot. In this way the stirrup leathers are placed a bit more under an angle while at the same time this method prevents the them from sliding back on the bars.

What is a Texas twist on a saddle?

Texas Twists is a technique used to shape and stretch the leather of a stirrup. They involve physical twisting of the leather straps in a way that it creates additional bulk down by the ankle and the stirrup leather hangs down on the outside. The technique is referred to as “Texas Twists” because the technique was developed in the state of Texas. 

How long should stirrups be on western saddle?

Stirrup length will vary from horse to horse, depending on the horse’s shape and size and the rider’s build. However, the general guidance is that a stirrup’s length on a western saddle should be about as long as the horse’s rider’s arm. That will accommodate for a wide variety of rider builds. You may have to adjust the strap tension to get it to fit properly. 

How do you fit stirrup irons?

While you don’t want your boot to stick out too far, you also don’t want it to be too tight. It does need to be fitted properly to provide comfort and performance. You can achieve the best boots and stirrups balance if you fit irons in the way that they are one inch wider than the width of your boot at the ball of the foot. When your foot is in place, you should have ½ inch of space on each side. In that way you can comfortably remove your feet for the stirrups when needed, while still having the perfect balance.

Can you put English stirrups on a Western saddle?

While it might be possible to modify a pair of stirrups for both types of saddles, it’s best to invest in one set of stirrups for one saddle style rather than modifying them for use on multiple types of saddles.
For instance, a pair of English stirrups is designed to be used with an English saddle, while a pair of Western stirrups are designed to be used with a Western saddle. Why is this important? English and Western saddles have very different purposes. While it’s possible to modify a pair of stirrups for both types of saddles, it’s not recommended because they will likely cause you to ride your horse differently. It’s better to use English stirrups on English saddles and Western stirrups on Western saddles.