Western Saddle Cinch
The western saddle cinch has the sole purpose of holding the saddle on the horse. The proper cinch should be comfortable and safe for the horse and rider. A poorly designed or ill-fitting cinch can cause uncomfortable pinching and painful chafing resulting in sores.
You may hear the term cinch and girth interchanged. The correct term for the Western Saddle is Cinch while the proper term for the English saddle is Girth.
There are dozens of different styles of cinches, made from several different materials and often a combination of materials.
The most popular western cinch is made from Mohair or a Mohair blend.
The cinch is made up of single or double layers of strings or strands reinforced with a center crossbar which helps hold the strings in position and gives strength to the cinch.
Most western saddle cinches are straight except the Roping cinch which is wide in the center.
The width of most cinches is approximately 3 inches.
The roping cinch can be 9 inches or greater in width in the center of the cinch.
The ends of the Roping Cinch taper down to about 3 inches on each end.
A second popular western cinch is made of soft fleece backed by a wide nylon reinforcing strip.
This cinch is commonly referred to as a Super Girth.
The nylon and fleece can be dyed bright colors to accent our riding outfits or to match the colorful nylon bridles and breast collars that are so popular.
Different Cinch Materials
Below are the pros and cons or a few of the more popular cinch materials:
- LEATHER is popular for the English Girths and rarely seen in Western Cinches . It is strong, supple and durable, but it lacks breath ability. They require regular cleaning and oiling to keep it in good condition.
- NEOPRENE has become a very popular material for both the English Girth and the Western Cinch. It is easy to clean, disinfect, stays in place. Manufacturers state their neoprene girths prevent chafing and are lubricating by promoting sweating in the area of the girth. Be aware that a few horses have shown an allergic reaction to neoprene. Sensitive skinned horses have received galls and sores. Neoprene can tear and some will crack with use and age.
- NYLON is durable, strong and easy to clean, but it doesn't give or stretch.
- MOHAIR is soft, breathable and stretchy. Perfect for the sensitive skinned horses. It does absorb sweat and dirt so it should be cleaned after each use.
- FLEECE is very soft, good for horses especially those with sensitive skin. Fleece does tend to pick up brush, burrs and dirt and so it should be cleaned after each use.
How to Measure the Cinch.
A Cinch is measured from end to end including the rings on each end. The following is a General Guideline to give you an idea of the size you should look for. The Western Cinch allows several inches of adjustment to give you room to get a proper fit without the necessity to be exact in your measurements.
Measuring your Mini, Pony or Horse is the best way to give you the proper size. The Western cinch comes in sizes from 14" to 50" with sizes available every two inches. It is important to learn the proper size that is best for your horse or pony.
How to Measure Your Horse's Girth Size
There is a simple formula for measuring your horse for a western cinch-girth.
Run a tape measure around the horse’s barrel where the girth sits, just behind his elbow and withers. Go completely around the body and pull the tape measure tight. This gives you your horse’s heart girth measurements in inches.
Take the heart girth measurement, divide by 2 and then subtract 3. Girths/cinches are usually sold in 2 inch increments and even numbers. For example; 20″, 22″, 24″, 26″, etc.
If the finial number you come up with is an odd number go down to the next even number for your girth size.
General Cinch Size Guidelines
Miniature Horses, Pony and Horse sizes will vary greatly depending on their size and build. Nothing can take the place of a tape measure to get the proper size for your horse.
Below are a few general guidelines to give you an idea of the cinch size range you should be looking at:
- 14" - 18" Really Small Miniature Horse
- 18" - 20" Average build miniature horse or pony under 32" tall
- 22" - 24" Average build 34" to 36" tall miniature horse or pony
- 24" - 26" Average built 10 to 12 hand pony (40" to 48") tall
- 28" - 30" Average built 13 to 14 hand pony
- 32" - 34" Small to average size horse depending on build
- 36" - 50" Large horses
Remember to keep in mind the above is to give you a general guideline. The size, weight and build of the horse must be taken into consideration.
Western Cinch Rings & Tongue
The Western cinch has large round D-rings on each end. Many have tongues in both ring ends which are used to attach the cinch to leather off billets or cinch tie straps with pre-punched holes in them.
Some only have a tongue on one end and a few cinches have no tongues... just the ring on each end.
Some cinches have small d-rings attached to the center reinforced piece to attach the breast collar, tie down and/or attach the connector strap for the double rigging or rear - back cinch strap if you elect to use one.
How to Tie The Cinch Knot
Do you know how to tie the Western Saddle Cinch Tie the old fashion way?
Most new western cinches have a buckle tongue that can be pushed through holes that are punched in the cinch tie strap, also known as the latigo just like fastening a belt.
In the good ole days, cinches were tied to the saddle with a cinch tie strap using a special knot on both sides of the saddle.
The off billet is the double leather billet on the off side of the western saddle. It has several holes punched in it to attach the cinch to. On the near side, the cinch can be brought up and secured by using the holes in the cinch tie strap or you can just tie the knot. Many riders prefer this method even if the cinch tie strap has prepunched holes in it.
In the past a rider didn't have tongues in cinches or holes punched in tie straps to tighten the cinch. Tying the cinch knot is quick and easy once you know how. It also will give you much more flexibility and allow you to tighten the girth exactly the way it should be. Even with the holes punched and the tongues in the cinch, I still prefer to tie the knot.
Place the saddle pad or blanket and saddle on the horse. With the cinch attached to the off billet on the off side.
Reach under the horse and bring the cinch toward you on the near side of the horse.
Make sure the off billet and cinch are flat against the horse's side and belly.
Slip the end of the cinch tie strap down through the inside of the cinch ring and pull the strap up to yourself.
Take the end of the cinch tie strap and place it through the cinch ring on the saddle. Go from outside to the inside.
Bring it down to the cinch ring on the girth and go through it again, so you have two layers.
Depending on the length of the cinch tie strap, you may be able to run it through one more time. Make sure the leather is smooth against the horse. Do not tighten.
2. Tying the Knot
Take the end of the cinch tie strap and slip it down the left inside of the saddle cinch ring.
Make sure the cinch and cinch tie strap are loose enough to allow you freedom to work.
Bring the end of the cinch tie strap up to the cinch ring on the saddle.
Once the end of the cinch tie strap is through the saddle cinch ring going from the outside to the inside on the left side of the cinch ring, check the straps and girth to make sure they are smooth.
Completing the Cinch Knot
Move the cinch tie strap toward the right side of the saddle cinch ring.
Go over the top of the cinch tie straps.
Slip the end of the cinch tie strap up through the outside of the cinch saddle ring into the center of the cinch saddle ring by going between the saddle ring and the saddle.
Pull the tie strap through the ring.
Slip the cinch tie strap down, underneath the portion of the cinch strap that lays across the top of the cinch straps.
This will complete the knot.
Gradually tighten the cinch tie strap until the knot tightens. The saddle and cinch should fit snuggly.
The cinch and cinch tie straps should be smooth and flat against the horse's body. You don't want the cinch to be too tight. You want it to be snug without pinching or causing the horse to feel uncomfortable.
Wait a few minutes, walk your horse around and then tighten the knot a little more.
Positioning the Cinch
When you have the cinch as tight as it should be you will want to stretch the front legs to help position the cinch.
To do this, you strand in front of your horse. Pick up first one leg just behind the knee and pull that leg toward you. Then do the same with the other leg. This will pull any loose skin from under the cinch and help position the cinch comfortably on your horse.
You want your horse to be comfortable. Saddle sores or galls come from improper fit. You want to avoid any pinching or anything that could cause an irritation.
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