I inherited an older pair of stirrup leathers from a Smith-Worthington saddle (they're not cheap crappy ones). The side that touches my saddle flap is a bit rough and they really scrape the leather on the flaps horribly. I just conditioned my saddle, which is dark brown, and after one ride it has scratches that go into the lighter layer under the outer dark one.
I know that leather has a smooth side and rougher side, but is this normal? Maybe they're so old that the smoothness wore away? If you felt the leather while holding a cloth, it will snag.
I'd buy new ones just to save my saddle but will they all eventually do this?
Leather has the skin side and the rough out side, Most rough out sides are flattened mechanically and sealed so they are almost smooth, but not quite.
When I first started riding all stirrup leathers were made so that the rough out side was out and the stirrup wore on the tougher skin side, when I came back to riding this had changed to the rough side being in and the stirrup wearing on the rough side.
Somehow your leathers have lost their seal on the rough side. Maybe they got good and soaked, I don't know. It shouldn't be scratchy though, not if they are oiled well, but they will wear more than from leathers with the smooth skin side out.
Thanks. Maybe mine were made during the time when you started riding. I've been blaming my half chaps for the scraping and it's been the leathers. I'm going to check out new ones in the tack shop and see which side faces where. Mine have to be at least 30 years old.