A leather punch is one of those pieces of equine equipment you don’t usually think about until you need it. Then, one day, you realize your stirrup leathers have stretched out, or your horse’s halter is too roomy, or . . . We looked at a selection of leather punches to see how they compare to each other. We tested them by punching both new harness leather and a softer, older, stirrup leather.
Many of the punches we tested look alike. You’ve probably seen them, the plastic or vinyl-handled, metal six-tube punches that live in tack rooms across the country. There is, however, a wide variation among these punches. Some are much easier to use than others, and you should not have to find the strongest person around just to punch an extra hole in your stirrup leathers or halters.
Accuracy is also a concern. You want a punch with sharp and even cutters. That way, your holes are punched clear through the first time and you don’t have to turn the leather over and punch through from the other side, risking a ragged hole. Among the more economical models, evenness can vary from punch to punch, depending on how they came out from the factory.
Comfort is also key. Some punch handles don’t seem unwieldy until you feel a pair that truly fit your hand. Well-designed handles (usually those with some taper to them) make it much easier to punch a hole, even if your hands are not exceptionally strong.
Sharpness of cutting tubes, or cutters, makes the punching easier as well. Some hole punches include extra cutters so that when the original set wears out, you can replace it and thus keep sharp cutters on your punch for as long as possible. But most people won’t do enough punching to wear cutters out.
The kind of punch you need depends on how much punching you do. If you run a lesson barn or trail-riding facility, you may find yourself reaching for your leather punch often. Then you should invest in a solid and resilient punch you can use repeatedly without over-dulling the cutters or taxing the mechanism. But, if you only need to adjust tack occasionally, you should be able to get away with a lighter-weight punch.
Whichever punch you decide on, take care of it. Although they do fit perfectly in those tack-room junk drawers next to the torn bit keepers and unmatched spurs, keep them somewhere clean and dry. Rust can ruin a nice punch, and dirt can dull the cutters and stick in the wheel of the punch.
If you can afford the Sprenger, or spend a lot of time punching holes, it’s really the best and easiest to use. We think it’s worth the cost.
Our Best Buy, for occasional punching in a small stable, is Schneider’s $3.95 leather punch.
Also With This Article
Click here to view ”Leather Hole Punches Comparison.”