How to Tie a Western Cinch

Western Leather Saddle
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  • 01 of 07

    Tie a Western Cinch - Position the Saddle

    saddle on a horse
    K. Blocksdorf

    Tieing a western saddle is easy once you get the hang of it. If you've ever tied a men's necktie, you'll already know how to tie the knot that holds everything in place. Organizing and tightening the cinch strap so that it doesn't pinch, but doesn't stay too loose will take a bit of practice. And remember, your girth may seem tight when you first do it up, but it's wise to check it before climbing into the saddle. Here's how to tie a western cinch safely.

    Put Your Saddle in the Right Spot

    Place your saddle slightly forward of where it should sit. Slide it back and settle it so that it is sitting comfortably on the horse's back. We're using an English saddle pad, but you'll probably use a western blanket, folded properly. The cinch will be hanging down on the right side and the cinch strap will be on the left side of the horse. On a western saddle, you may wish to hook the left stirrup up over the horn to get it out of the way.

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  • 02 of 07

    Pull up the Cinch Strap

    looping the cinch strap
    K. Blocksdorf

    The cinch strap is located underneath the fender of the saddle on the off side. This is why you hooked the left stirrup over the saddle horn, so the ring you will be tying it too is easily seen and accessed.

    Insert the end of the cinch strap down and towards the horse through the ring on the cinch. Pull it all the way through so it's a bit taut and the end of the strap is pointing back up to the ring on the saddle. You don’t have to pull the strap tight against the horse at this point. But you don’t want the cinch ring hanging beneath the horse either. 

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  • 03 of 07

    Pull the Strap Back Down

    cinching a western saddle
    K. Blocksdorf

    Insert the end of the cinch strap down and towards the horse again, through the ring on the saddle. Pull it all the way through and back down to the ring on the cinch. This will give you one complete loop between each ring. The next step is to repeat and begin to tighten.

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  • 04 of 07

    Repeat to Take up the Excess

    repeating cinch loop
    K. Blocksdorf

    Depending on how long the cinch strap and the cinch is you may have repeat looping the strap two or three times between the ring on the cinch and the ring on the saddle. It's best for strength to have at least two loops. Again at this point don't worry about pulling the straps tight; you will tighten them securely later after the knot is tied. The next step is to start tying the knot.

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  • 05 of 07

    Start the Knot

    typing knot on cinch loop
    K. Blocksdorf

    To tie the knot, loop the cinch strap through the saddle ring, over itself and back up through the ring. This makes a knot similar to a man's ​necktie. The next step will be to complete the knot.

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  • 06 of 07

    Complete the Knot

    inserting cinch strap downwards
    K. Blocksdorf

    Insert the end of the cinch strap down through the resulting loop. At this point, you'll see how it looks similar to a man's necktie. It also somewhat similar to a lark's head knot used in crafting, although the straps will be overlapping rather than laying flat side by side. The next step is tightening the whole girth. Make sure you have no twists in the strap. You want it to be lying flat on the horse to prevent chaffing. ​

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  • 07 of 07

    Tighten the Cinch

    Tightening the cinch
    K. Blocksdorf

    After you have tied the knot, take up any slack in the cinch strap. Gradually pull the cinch straps, starting with the first (innermost) loop, so that the cinch is tight and the saddle is secure. Depending on the length of the remaining strap, you may loop it through the keeper behind the saddle strap. Don't leave the cinch strap dangling. 

    Tighten your cinch again after your horse has moved around and relaxed. You want it tight enough so the saddle doesn't turn easily, but not so tight as to pinch the horse. You should be able to insert your fingers flat between cinch and horse. But you also want it snug enough that the saddle doesn't slip sideways when you ride.