Keeping your horse happy while saddling can be a cinch if you keep these tips in mind:
- Check that your saddle pad is clean before placing it on your horse’s back. Old sweat, dirt, and other debris can cause irritation. Brush off dried sweat and dirt, or rinse the pad with a hose.
- When placing the saddle on your horse’s back, don’t drop it on. Learn how to swing the saddle over and slow it slightly as it descends onto his back. To practice this, try standing beside a wooden fence, round pen panel, or even your porch railing and learn to swing the saddle up and gently slow it as it comes down.
- Use the proper length cinch. The cinch plays an important role in keeping you safe and your horse comfortable. If it is too long, you will have trouble with it overlapping the saddle pad and be tempted to wrap the billet an excessive number of times. If it is too short, the billet straps may rub or pinch your horse, or cause him irritation, as they are not designed to redistribute pressure like a cinch is.
- When tightening the cinch, imagine that someone is tightening a belt around you. Use a smooth motion as you remove the slack. Jerking and tugging may make the job easier on you, but it will result in an unhappy horse that may eventually start biting.
This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.