How To Tie A Western Cinch

It can be difficult to figure out how to tie a western cinch if you are new to western tack. We will have you tacking up like a pro in no time with these simple, step-by-step instructions.

To secure the saddle to the horse, western saddles use a cinch and a latigo (or cinch strap). Tying a cinch knot or buckling the cinch are the two methods for attaching the latigo to the cinch.

Most cinches and latigos these days come with buckles. The near-side (left) ring of the cinch will have a buckle tongue, and the latigo will have a sequence of vertical holes for the buckle tongue to latch on to. Because buckle tongues can break and latigos with insufficient holes to properly tighten the cinch can occur, every western rider should know how to tie a cinch knot.

To learn how to saddle your horse properly, go to How To Saddle A Horse.

Steps to Tie a Western Cinch

  1. With your left hand, go beneath the horse’s belly and grab the cinch. Make sure the cinch is not twisted and is lying flat against the horse’s belly. The cinch should be placed around the horse’s heart girth, which is the narrowest area of the rib cage.
  2. From the horse’s belly side out, thread the latigo through the cinch ring. Pull the latigo all the way through, but not too tightly. Make that the latigo is not twisted and is lying flat.
  3. From the outside in, run the latigo through the saddle dee ring. Pull the latigo entirely through the dee ring and to the left. You want your latigo to be snug but not too tight. After you have done your knot, tighten the straps.
  4. You may need to take an extra wrap or two, depending on the length of your latigo. If this is the case, simply repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Cross the loose end of the latigo over the top of your latigo layers and insert it through the saddle dee from the horse side out to secure the knot. Thread the latigo end through the loop you created when you crossed over. It is comparable to how a man ties his tie.
  6. Hold the top loop of the latigo that has gone through the cinch ring (NOT the loose end) with one hand and slowly pull up to tighten the cinch. You will keep the innermost loop if you have taken numerous wraps. Take up the slack in the knot loop with your other hand and pass it through the saddle dee. Then tighten your loose end.
  7. Follow steps 1 through 4 above with a cinch buckle. Instead of knotting the free end, loop it back through the cinch ring and hook one of the latigo holes on the buckle tongue. Make sure the tongue lodges against the ring by pulling down on the top latigo layer. The latigo is held in place by this.
  8. If the latigo is short enough, it can either hang loose or be fed through the latigo holder. A horse may find a long latigo left dangling irritating or terrifying. It also appears untidy hanging there.


Instead of tightening a cinch all at once, it should be done in phases. Tightening in three phases is a wonderful habit to develop. To begin, carefully tighten it until it is snug. Allow the horse to settle by moving it around (circle, back up, sideways). Then carefully tighten it once more. Continue to move the horse around and then slowly tighten. The goal of this method is not to get the cinch as tight as possible, but to develop a pleasant process that turns the horse into a willing participant.

There is one more step to protect your horse’s comfort and avoid saddle sores once you have done tightening your cinch. Lift and stretch each of your horse’s front legs out in front as far as he or she will allow. If you are doing this with your horse for the first time, start slowly and gently to establish the concept. Your horse will understand the procedure after a few repetitions and will readily participate, but always be gentle and stretch slowly. This stretch will remove any skin creases that have become trapped beneath the cinch and may cause discomfort or blisters.

Connect the front cinch first, then the flank cinch. The flank cinch is intended to assist the front cinch in keeping the saddle secure. It will not keep the saddle secure on its own. Having only the flank cinch linked is a disaster waiting to happen. If your horse abruptly moves and the saddle shifts, your horse may become startled. Disconnect the flank cinch before the front cinch when unsaddling.

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