The weight of your leather
- The weight of your stirrup leathers is an important consideration. It’s best to choose a leather that’s as light as possible while still offering the strength you need. Too light, and it may break under strain or with repeated use. Too heavy, and your foot will constantly slip off the saddle when trying to navigate difficult terrain.
- When considering weight, think about both thickness and density: some stirrups are thinner than others but may be denser due to an extra layer of material on top; others are thicker but still lightweight because they’re made from an inferior quality hide (the part of the animal used for making leather). In general, if you want comfort for yourself (or if your horse has sensitive skin), go with thinner and lighter-weight stirrups—but if safety matters most (for instance: being able to hold on during rough rides), go thick!
Top grain vs split leather
Top grain leather is a thicker, more durable kind of hide. It’s also more expensive than split leather because it contains fewer imperfections and will last longer than its cheaper counterpart. Top grain leathers are often made with chrome tanning, which means they are tanned using chromium salts to preserve their color and strength over time.
Split leather is made from the leftover pieces of larger hides that have been cut into smaller pieces by splitting them down the middle (hence the name). These pieces are then put through a different tanning process that involves vegetable tanning rather than chrome tanning, which can leave behind a slightly less desirable look in terms of color and feel but still serves its purpose well enough for everyday riding purposes.
Where does the leather come from?
The next thing to consider is where the leather comes from. Leather is a natural product, and therefore varies somewhat in quality, depending on its source. There are many countries that produce leather, but some are better than others. In fact, there are many types of leathers available; these are just some of the most common:
- Cowhide (also called full-grain or top-grain)
- Kangaroo hide (more expensive)
- Nubuck (slightly less expensive than top-grain and easy to care for)
Do you want something padded?
It’s a good idea to consider whether you want padding on your stirrup leathers.
If you’re doing a lot of long rides, or just like having something soft underfoot, then it might be worth getting some with padding. A lot of people find that when they are riding for a while their legs get tired and they tend to grip with their feet. Padding can help with this by making the stirrups more comfortable and giving them somewhere to rest their feet so that gripping isn’t necessary as much (or at all).
Another plus for using padded stirrups is that they make the stirrup leathers heavier than non-padded ones. While this may not seem like an issue if you’re riding at home or have no intention of taking them off your horse when traveling, it could become an issue if you need to pack things up quickly and move on—especially if traveling by air!
The most important takeaway from this blog is that choosing the right stirrup leathers for you, your saddle and your riding style is essential. It’s an investment in both quality and longevity, so it’s worth doing your research before making a decision.
Best of luck in finding the perfect pair!