It’s a Cinch


Have you ever felt your western saddle shifting beneath your seat? It could be due to an improperly fitted cinch. The wrong sized cinch could also cause your horse to develop a sore or gal due to pinching or rubbing. Here are some quick tips on how to get the right sized cinch for your horse.

Make sure the cinch isn't too loose or tightBefore purchasing a new cinch or grabbing one off the tackroom wall, measure your horse’s girth area. You can do this by placing your pad and saddle on your horse and then measuring from the metal rigging ring on one side, then under your horse’s belly, and up to the rigging ring on the opposite side. Then subtract 16 inches. That will give you a good estimate of the size of cinch to choose, because there should be about 8 inches of latigo between the saddle and the cinch buckle. For example, if the measurement is about 48 inches, you’d need a 32-inch cinch. Of course, these measurements are approximate. Variables include the thickness of your saddle pad, your horse’s length of coat (winter hair is coarser) and fluctuations in your horse’s weight. To aid in your decision making, the average western riding horse wears a 32 or 34 inch cinch.

Consider all the factors before buying the cinchFortunately, there is quite a bit of adjustment possible with a western cinch, thanks to the latigo and off-billet, so you can fine-tune the fit. Most cinches feature small metal dees where you might snap a breastcollar or tie-down. These rings should be lined up between your horse’s front legs. Too far off to one side and that indicates that your cinch is snubbed up too much on one side, placing your saddle off kilter. Just as important is confirming that the cinch isn’t rubbing against your horse’s elbow. That can happen if the cinch is either too short overall or improperly adjusted on one side. The heavy metal cinch ring should be above your horse’s elbow and allow plenty of freedom for movement. Otherwise your horse could end up with a painful abrasion that could take weeks to heal. It’s better to take a moment to check the fit of your cinch before you head down the trail.

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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


  1. Thank you for the information………..No wonder why my saddle was tipping oooover the on side of my horse…….Thanks HC!!!!!!


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