Western Saddle Guide
 

Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Parts > Cinch

The Cinch

 

The cinch (also called the front cinch) is the wide strap that fits under the horse and attaches to the rigging to secure the saddle. The word comes from the spanish word cincha, which is still in use today in some areas. On English style saddles, this part is more commonly known as a girth.

It’s critical to choose a high quality piece of equipment, both for the rider’s safety and for the horse’s comfort. Poor quality and bad fitting cinches are a major cause of cranky horse and often result in ugly sores.

Visit our How To section to learn how to tie a western cinch.


You'll find a wide selection of cinches available in the Tack Shop and at State Line Tack. Our favorites are those made from mohair, preferrably 100% mohair.

cinchSizes
Cinches have both a length and width measurement. The length is measured from the outside of one ring to the outside of the opposite ring. Sizes come in two inch increments between 22 and 38 inches. The most common sizes are 30”, 32” and 34”.

Width is measured either in inches or, on cord cinches, by strand count. Strand counts can vary between 14 and 31 strands. A cinch can be either “straight” with the width uniform, or a Roper style with the width wider in the middle. The correct length for a horse will place the center strip of the cinch in the middle of the underside of the horse and the cinch rings approximately 8 inches below the rigging plates.

To measure your horse for a cinch, place your saddle on the horse while he's standing on level ground. Tie a piece of string or baling twine to one rigging ring, loop it under the horse's girth, and bring it up to the other ring. Measure that length and subtract 16 inches (round up to the nearest cinch size) and you'll have a good estimate of his correct cinch size.

The cinch should lie at your horse's heart girth, the narrowest part of the horse's rib cage. Learn how to determine the location of your horse's heart girth.


cinch Materials
Cinches are made from a wide variety of materials with the objective to transfer sweat away from the horse’s body and allow evaporation.

In the old days, horsehair was widely used and is an effective and strong material. It is also very expensive and no longer practical. Today, mohair is considered by most to be the best material. In addition to being strong and absorbent, it cleans easily with soap and water. (A cinch becomes dirty quickly and should be cleaned regularly to prevent sores.) 100% mohair is the best and the most expensive, but those with a percentage of nylon or wool will keep the cost down. A mohair blend will also elimintate the stretching that happens with a 100% mohair cinch.

Other popular and less expensive materials include nylon, rayon, felt, cotton, and neoprene. The synthetics are strong but don’t absorb moisture well and can create heat. They just won't breathe. Cotton transfers moisture extremely well, but weakens when wet. Fleece-lined models are also available, but must have been invented by someone who never rode outside an arena. Fleece attracts every type of burr, stick, and piece of crud. They don’t stay clean and fluffy for long.

If you use a synthetic cinch, you should have a leather latigo rather than a nylon latigo. The leather will insure that there is some give between the two pieces. With a natural material cinch, you can use either a nylon or leather latigo, as the cinch will provide the necessary give.

A cinch should have a strip stitched across the center with rings on each side. The strip adds strength and the rings are used to connect breast collars, tie-downs, and cinch connecting straps. On a properly fitted horse, the center strip will fall in the center of the underside of the horse.



cinch Rings
The rings should be made of stainless steel or bronze. Those made of nickel or chrome plated iron will rust. There are three styles of rings:
  • Round Ring. The simple round ring is usually found on cheaper saddles. With this style buckle, a latigo has to be tied off. While some prefer this method, it does add to the bulk underneath a rider’s leg.

    Round Ring with Buckle Tongue. This style is a step up from the simple round ring and will allow the latigo to be secured with the tongue, lessening the bulk. The design, however, results in a relatively weak ring.

  • Round Ring with Tongue and Crossbar. This style is the strongest and most versatile. With the tongue mounted on the crossbar, the ring is stronger and more stable.

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