- Bottom Line Up Front
- A Quick Glance At My Top Choices
- What Are English Leathers?
- How To Measure For English Leathers
- How I Choose English Leathers
- The Best English Leathers on The Market
- The Best Top Range Leathers
- 1. Huntley Equestrian Sedgewick Non-Stretch Leathers
- 2. Total Saddle Fit Stability Leathers
- 3. Prestige Stirrup Leathers
- The Best Mid-Range Leathers
- 1. ExionPro Soft Tripple Covered Leathers
- 2. SIE Equestrian Super Soft English Leathers
- 3. Bates Webbers Stirrup Leathers
- The Best Budget Leathers
- 1. Paris Tack Schooling Leathers
- 2. Challenger Padded Leathers
- 3. Horze Traditional Leathers
I’m a professional horsewoman from the UK. I’ve spent decades working with horses, in and out of the saddle, so I’m more than familiar with English riding gear.
Like most riders, I know that stirrup leathers are an essential equestrian item because they anchor you into the saddle and give you more control, comfort, and stability when you ride. Horse riding saddles usually come without leathers, so if you want to know how to choose the perfect ones, look at my best English leathers guide below.
Bottom Line Up Front
When it comes to English leathers, my top choice has to be the Bates Webbers leathers. I love these leathers because they are single-strap and don’t have a buckle, so they are less bulky under the leg. They’re high quality, durable, and have a nylon core – so they won’t stretch.
A Quick Glance At My Top Choices
In this guide, I’ll tell you all about English leathers and the best ones on the market, but before we go into the details, here’s a quick look at my top choices.
- Bates Webbers Leathers: These are my overall top choice in leathers and are the best mid-range ones on the market. I love them because they are single-strap, without a buckle, so they improve contact with my horse.
- Prestige Stirrup Leathers: These are the best top-of-the-range leathers on the market, and I love them because they’re soft, supple, and super durable. They’re ideal for all riding disciplines, in and out of the show ring.
- Challenger Padded Leathers: I love these budget leathers because they are comfortable, durable, and incredibly flexible for budget leathers. They’re perfect for everyday use in all riding disciplines.
What Are English Leathers?
Stirrup leathers are straps, usually made from leather, which attach stirrups to a saddle. Usually, they thread through the top of the stirrup and the stirrup bar – under the saddle skirt to create an adjustable leather loop for stirrups to hang from.
Stirrups and leathers are as vital as the saddle itself because they anchor you in the saddle – without them, it’s easy to become unbalanced. They stabilize your position and give you more control and better contact with your horse. If you have a Western saddle, you must use Western leathers – and for English saddles, you need English leathers. English leathers differ from Western ones because they’re much thinner and narrower.
English leathers come in three types
- Traditional Leathers: Traditional leathers are 100 percent leather. They are the most durable type on the market and are easy to clean and punch holes in. The problem with traditional leathers is they can stretch and lengthen over time.
- Nylon Core Leathers: Nylon core leathers have a leather outer but contain a webbed nylon core which won’t stretch. Nylon core leathers are lighter than traditional ones but are more difficult to punch holes in.
- Synthetic Leathers: Synthetic leathers are made from synthetic materials, and you should use them with synthetic saddles. If you use them on a leather saddle, they can scratch the surface.
- Single Strap Leathers: Single strap leathers are half the length of regular ones because they don’t make a loop between your stirrup and the saddle. Instead, one end attaches to the saddle, and the other secures to your stirrup, and you adjust them from a buckle on the stirrup. The benefit of single-strap leathers is you have less bulk under your leg when you ride.
How To Measure For English Leathers
Before you buy English leathers, you must measure yourself first to establish what length to choose. If your leathers are too long or too short, you won’t be able to use them. You can find out what size you need if you measure your arm or leg with a tape measure.
Measure your arm from the armpit to the end of your fingers for a standard or jump saddle. To measure for a dressage saddle, take the reading from the inside of your leg down to the ankle. When you have the figure, double it and add one or two inches for a jump saddle or 6-8 inches for a dressage saddle. For single-strap leathers, you don’t need to double the original measurement.
It’s good to have a bit of length over so you can punch holes in your leathers if necessary. Any excess should fit neatly into the stirrup leather keeper on the saddle flap. If you have too much over, it will get in the way and won’t look professional in the show ring.
How I Choose English Leathers
Stirrup leathers are vital safety equipment, so you must choose suitable ones to be balanced in the saddle. When I select English leathers, I consider my riding discipline, saddle type and color, and the leather width and length.
To help you choose the perfect English leathers, below, I’ll tell you more about the vital things I consider before buying a pair.
1. My Saddle
The first thing I consider before I buy English leathers is my saddle type. This is pretty straightforward – for a leather saddle, I choose traditional leathers, and for a synthetic saddle, I choose synthetic ones.
You shouldn’t use synthetic leathers on a leather saddle because they will rub and scratch its surface. If you use traditional leathers on a synthetic saddle, they won’t feel secure, and again, they might damage the saddle’s surface.
2. My Riding Discipline
We all have our own preference of how we like our stirrups to sit when we ride, but generally, each riding discipline has its parameters in stirrup leather length. If you enjoy jumping – you know it’s beneficial to have short stirrups to help you lift out of the saddle for take-off and landing. Race jockeys also use short stirrup leathers so they can sit above the seat when they gallop.
Dressage riders, on the other hand, like long stirrups because they give them a deep seat. While endurance trail riders have average-length stirrups, which provide comfort and stability for long hours in the saddle.
3. The Color
When I buy English leathers, I always choose ones that match my saddle. Leathers that match your saddle are a must, especially if you want to look your best in the show ring. If you have a synthetic or black leather saddle, it’s easy to match the color. If you have a brown saddle, finding a match can be more challenging.
Brown saddles come in many shades, some are dark, and others are light with red undertones, making it harder to find an exact match. Brown leather will also change shade over time through wear and polishing. When I choose brown leathers, I anticipate whether they will still match my saddle after repeated use and conditioning.
5. The Width
Standard English leathers are around an inch wide, but they also come in ⅞ and ¾ inch. Wide leathers offer more stability in the saddle, so they are better for jumping, while thin leathers reduce the bulk under your leg and provide more contact with your horse.
6. The Length
The leather length is another vital thing I consider, and to find the correct size for my needs, I measure myself first. As a rough guide, the average adult length is 54-inches, but tall riders need longer leathers, and short riders need shorter ones. Stirrup leather lengths start at 48-inches for children and small adults and go up to 62-inches for tall riders.
7. Extra Features
Extra features to look out for on leathers include half-inch spacing between the holes. Most leathers have punch holes at 1-inch intervals, but “half inchers” have twice as many holes and are more adjustable. Numbered punch holes are also a practical feature to look out for. They help you achieve a precise, even fit.
Traditional, full-leather stirrup leathers can stretch over time. So, if you want leathers that won’t lengthen, look for ones with a nylon core. Nylon core leathers look just like traditional leathers but have durable nylon inside, which doesn’t stretch over time.
8. Buying Info
Most major saddle brands produce stirrup leathers, so if you have a specific brand of saddle – check with them first because you’re more likely to find a color match. If you buy budget leathers, don’t expect them to last as long as high-end ones. You might have to replace them after a season or two compared to expensive ones, which can last for more than 10 years.
Finally, avoid buying leathers made from cheap synthetic leather because they’re not very durable and can snap easily.
The Best English Leathers on The Market
There are many English leathers out there, and even though they look similar, they all have unique features. It can be tricky finding the perfect ones for your saddle. So, to save you time trawling through the internet, I’ve listed the best English leathers on the market.
I chose the leathers in this list because they’re versatile and suitable for most English riding disciplines. They all come from trusted equestrian brands and have many positive customer reviews. I’ve selected ones to suit every budget, and most of them are available in several colors to help you find a precise match.
The Best Top Range Leathers
The Huntley non-stretch leathers are crafted from the finest Sedhewick leather from the UK and have a reputation for durability. They feel soft and luxurious with elegant double stitching and have a non-stretch nylon core. The Huntly Sedgwick leathers are 1-inch thick, 5-mm wide, and have a flat buckle, which helps to improve contact with your horse.
I love these high-end leathers because they’re soft and supple with a tapered end, so they’re easy to use in and out of the saddle. They’re available in 2 lengths, 48-inches with 20 holes or 54-inches with 22 holes, and they come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- They’re non-stretch.
- They have holes at half-inch intervals for a precision fit.
- They’re only available in Havana brown.
- They may not fit tall riders.
These leathers from Total Saddle Fit are unique because they have a wide design for extra stability. They’re made from high-quality calfskin with a nylon core to prevent stretching and are thin and comfortable under the leg. They’re available in 48, 54, 60, and 64-inches to suit dressage and jumping saddles and have numbered holes for a precision fit.
I love the stability leathers because they’re super comfortable and really do improve my leg position in the saddle. They’re thin, so you feel less bulk under your thighs, and they look and feel elegant.
- They provide extra leg stability in the saddle.
- They’re available in black and brown.
- If you have good leg placement in the saddle, you won’t benefit from stability leathers.
Prestige is an Italian saddlery brand with a global reputation for producing high-quality products. They have over 40 years of saddle-making experience, and their saddles and leathers are favorites among professional riders. The Prestige stirrup leathers are made from high-quality leather over a durable nylon core and keep their shape, even with regular use.
I love these English leathers because they’re soft, supple, and easy to use from the floor or in the saddle. They have flat buckles to improve contact and are available in black and tobacco color. Prestige leathers are a good investment because they are a high-quality product that will last many years.
- Prestige is a trusted equestrian brand with a reputation for high quality and durability.
- They look elegant and are ideal for the show ring.
- They’re only available in one size – 54-inches.
The Best Mid-Range Leathers
The ExonPro triple-covered leathers are made from soft, supple, premium-quality calfskin and have a nylon core to prevent stretching. They come in four colors, black, conker, Havana, and oak brown, and are 54, 58, or 62 inches long, so they are ideal for dressage. The ExonPro leathers are durable, easy to adjust, and have many happy customer reviews.
I love these leather because they’re ideal for all riding disciplines and regular, daily use. They feel super soft and have fancy, heavy-duty stitching and curved stainless steel buckles for a secure fit.
- They’re available in four colors.
- They come with numbered holes for a precise fit.
- They’re not suitable for riders with short legs.
The SIE leathers are made from soft, high-quality leather with a nylon core – so they won’t stretch, even with daily use. They feature durable, stainless steel, triple stitched buckles and are suitable for all riding disciplines. The SIE leathers come in black or Havana brown and are available in 48, 54, and 60 inches.
I love these leathers because they are super soft and supple, easy to adjust, and have beautiful stitching. They look elegant, are easy to break in, and feel comfortable and secure under my leg.
- They have numbered punch holes for a precise fit
- They might not be long enough for tall riders.
Bates is a top-of-the-range brand in saddlery, and these Webbers leathers live up to all expectations. They’re unique because they are single-strap and don’t have a buckle – so they reduce the bulk under your leg and provide more contact with your horse. They’re made from high-quality leather with a nylon core – so they won’t stretch.
I love these leathers from Bates because they’re easy to adjust and eliminate pressure points under the leg. They feel and look luxurious and are available in black, brown, and Havana, and come in lengths of 24, 29, and 32 inches.
- They are single-strap and don’t have buckles, so they are less bulky under the leg.
- They have lots of positive customer reviews.
- They are more difficult to adjust than standard leathers when you’re in the saddle.
The Best Budget Leathers
Paris Tack is a trusted equine brand with over 20 years of experience in the industry, and these traditional schooling leathers are ideal for everyday use in all riding disciplines. They have a rustproof stainless steel buckle attached to the leather with a nylon core for extra durability.
I love these schooling leathers because they’re super durable for the price, but they are stiff at first and take a while to break in. They’re available in Havana, chestnut, and black, and 45, 54, and 60-inch lengths.
- They come with a 6-month to 1-year warranty.
- They’re available in 3 colors.
- They’re stiff and take a while to break in.
The Challenger padded leathers are soft, flexible, and ideal for schooling and everyday use. They have a stainless steel buckle with copper rivets and durable double stitching. The Challenger padded leathers are 1-inch wide and available in lengths 48, 54, and 60-inches.
I love Challenger products because they’re a trusted equine brand with a reputation for high quality. These stirrup leathers are padded, comfortable, and incredibly flexible for budget leathers.
- They come in three colors.
- They’re more flexible than most budget leathers.
- They’re thicker than most leathers.
Horze is a budget equestrian brand with an outstanding reputation, and these traditional leathers are ideal for all saddles and riding disciplines. They feel thick and durable and have numbered punch holes for a precision fit. The Horze traditional leathers come with stainless steel buckles and are available in lengths of 49, 53, 58, and 63-inches.
I like these budget leathers because they’re good for the price and are ideal for general schooling, though I wouldn’t use them in the show ring. They have many good customer reviews and are available in dark brown and black.
- They’re perfect for schooling.
- They’re ideal for tall riders.
- They are hard at first, and you must condition them a lot to break them in before using them.
Answer: Wide stirrup leathers will help to stabilize your leg position in the saddle. The extra surface area provides more grip, which keeps your leg in place. If your leg tends to slip forward when you ride, wide leathers can help you maintain the correct posture. They are also ideal for beginner riders.
Answer: You must measure your leg length to find what size English stirrup leathers you need. The average stirrup leather length is 54-inches for a standard-sized rider. Tall riders may need up to 62-inches, and children and small adults usually use 48-inch leathers.
To find the correct size leathers, you must also consider your riding discipline. If you enjoy jumping activities or racing, choose shorter stirrups to help you maneuver more in the saddle. If you take part in dressage, you need longer leathers to help you maintain a deep seat.
Answer: Stirrup leathers make a tremendous difference when you ride. Without stirrups, you can easily lose your balance and have less control over your horse. Stirrup leathers keep you securely anchored in the saddle, provide stability during turns and give you more contact with your horse.
Answer: Stirrup leathers are a vital piece of safety equipment, and you must clean and condition them regularly to keep them supple. Stirrup leathers take a lot of weight, and if you don’t take care of them, they might snap when you ride.
You can clean English leathers with a sponge and saddle soap, and for the best results, use a leather conditioner afterwards. To encourage even wear on your leathers, swap them over regularly – the left to the right and vice versa. The stirrup leather will stretch more on the near side because you use it to mount.
My favorite English leathers on the market are the Bates Webbers leather. I love these leathers. They feel soft and comfortable under my legs because they are single-strap, with no buckle. They’re soft and supple and give me optimum stability in the saddle.
English leathers are a must when it comes to English riding, and you should choose them according to your size and riding discipline. The average leather length is 54-inches, but if you like jumping and cross country, choose slightly shorter leathers and if you enjoy dressage, choose longer ones. Traditional leathers are the most durable, but they stretch over time, so most riders these days choose nylon-core leathers, which don’t stretch and become uneven.
- About Stirrup Leathers | Dover Saddlery. www.doversaddlery.com/about-stirrup-leathers/a/425. Accessed 7 Sept. 2022.
- Guerin, Georgia. “A Selection of the Best Stirrup Leathers to Complement Your Saddle.” Horse & Hound, 17 Feb. 2022, www.horseandhound.co.uk/buyers-guides/8-stirrup-leathers-to-add-to-your-christmas-wish-list-520438.
- Terry, Martha. “Stirrup Leathers: Choosing the Correct Length to Suit Your Needs.” Horse & Hound, 13 Mar. 2022, www.horseandhound.co.uk/features/how-to-measure-stirrup-leathers-for-all-disciplines-777873.
- “What Is the Difference in English Stirrup Leathers?” The Horse Forum, 4 June 2014, www.horseforum.com/threads/what-is-the-difference-in-english-stirrup-leathers.423898.