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How To... Turn Your Blevins Buckles Over - Page 1 of 4
The stirrup leathers of a Western saddle can be adjusted in order to raise or lower the stirrups. Sometimes, if the stirrups are adjusted short enough, the excess stirrup leathers can extend downward so far that they hang in front of the stirrups. One way to solve this problem is to turn the Blevins buckles over on the stirrup leathers. By turning the Blevins buckles over, the excess stirrup leathers curl up on the inside of the stirrup fenders instead of hanging down in front of the stirrups. This article will show you how to remove the Blevins buckles on a saddle, turn them over, and put them back on.
How To Turn Your Blevins Buckles (you are on page 1 of 4)
The stirrup leather on this saddle hangs down in front of the stirrup.
Below is the same saddle after the Blevins buckles have been turned over. The stirrup leather now curls up on the inside of the stirrup fender, out of the way.
NOTE: In the photo below the stirrup's hobble strap was removed to make a clearer photo, but should be put back on before the saddle is ridden.
NOTE ABOUT BLEVINS BUCKLES: On most Western saddles made in the last several decades the stirrups are adjusted up or down by the use of a "quick-change" type of buckle on the stirrup leathers. While there are different types of quick-change buckles, a type known as a "Blevins" buckle is extremely common. This article is intended for saddles that are equipped with Blevins buckles.
Turning your Blevins buckles over is not the only way to address the problem of stirrup leathers that hang in front of stirrups. Another common method of handling excess stirrup leather is to fold it up out of the way, then buckle the stirrup's hobble strap over it to hold it in place. The stirrup leather can be folded beneath the hobble strap on the front side or the back side of the stirrup. Most riders seem to prefer to fold the stirrup leather up on the back side of the stirrup (the side closest to the horse) because it tends to snag the rider's jeans if it's folded up on the front side.
Things You Will Need
Blevins buckles are typically attached to a stirrup leather by rivets. To turn your Blevins buckles over you will need to grind off and remove the existing rivets, turn the buckles over, and re-attach them with new rivets.
Things you will need:
- An angle grinder.
- Safety goggles.
- New copper rivets to replace the ones you grind off.
- A copper rivet and burr setter (aka copper rivet setter).
- A hammer.
- A screwdriver.
- Things you might also need and should have handy: A pair of pliers and a pair of nippers.
Below: An angle grinder and safety goggles.
Below, top row: A tool called a "copper rivet and burr setter."
Below, bottom row: Three copper rivet burrs, and three copper rivets.
A close-up photo of one end of the copper rivet and burr setter.
Step #1 - Grind The Ends Off The Existing Rivets
To turn your Blevins buckles over you will need to grind the ends off the existing rivets, remove the rivets, turn the Blevins buckles over, and re-attach the buckles with new rivets. In this step, you will grind the ends off the existing rivets.
Remove your stirrup. Lay the end of the stirrup leather and the Blevins buckle on a surface safe for grinding. In the photo at right we are using a short metal stand. You will want the peened ends of the rivets face-up (see photo and explanation below).
This is a closer look at the rivets shown in the photo above. The arrow is pointing to the flattened end on the post of one of the rivets. Since the word "peen" means to shape or flatten, this is called the the "peened" end. To remove the rivets you will need to grind the peened ends off of all three copper rivets (or however many rivets your stirrup leathers have).
How To Turn Your Blevins Buckles (you are on page 1 of 4)
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