Back Cinch Blunders
- July 13, 2019
- Savanna Simmons
Plenty of reasons exist for the use of a back cinch, roping being the most prominent of reasons, to my mind, as well as starting a colt, to keep the saddle closer to the colt should he buck, and get him used to and comfortable with the feel as early as possible. An equal amount of arguments exist for taking off the back cinch, namely, for me, to not hinder aids I need to cue my horse, but also the risk of catching a rear foot or errant branch in it, should it become too loose.
Taking off the rear cinch if there’s no real need for it eliminates a saddling step and the risk of it becoming too loose and catching a horse’s foot in it.
Below are a few thoughts from my saddle-making friend, Ed Odgers, who pays the utmost attention and care when riding, building saddles, and doing most anything. He has an exorbitant amount of common sense, logic, and knowledge.
Back Cinch Thoughts by Ed Odgers of Knight Hollow Saddlery
A rear cinch is beneficial when a forward pull is applied to the horn as in calf roping, tying down and doctoring cattle, team roping (heeling), and possibly snubbing a colt. It will hold down the rear of the saddle and help keep the saddle from digging into the horses’ shoulders, especially when the rider dismounts (doctoring, calf roping) and their weigh isn’t helping hold the saddle in place. This is particularly true with full-rigged saddles as none of the cinch pressure is distributed to the back of the saddle.
Even for full rigged saddles, which are always double rigged, a rear cinch is supplemental. If your saddle won’t stay in place without screwing down your rear cinch, it probably doesn’t fit your horse.
When you don’t need it, the tight rear cinch can actually be in the way for the horse by restricting its movement (observe the saddle on a horse arching into a sliding stop), and for the rider by interfering with the spur. Personally, I ride 7/8 to 3/4 rigged saddles and leave my rear cinch and billets in the trailer unless I’m carrying a rope and plan to use it.
As a saddle maker, I’m often asked to make a lighter saddle. For those folks, I often suggest a 7/8 or 3/4 rigged saddle or removable billets and rear cinch. Eliminating or removing the rear cinch when not roping will reduce the weight by 2.5 lbs. It’s hard to make up that weight elsewhere in a saddle. Folks rarely want to do that. Human nature, I guess. If you don’t understand something, you do what you’ve seen and done in the past.
I also speculate that the rear cinch is viewed by many and being part of the “look” or “uniform” of riding western, sort of like the folks packing a rope but don’t have a use for is. Maybe not practical, but aesthetics and personal taste aren’t about practical. As long as it works for you and you enjoy it, so be it.
Curious note added from Ed: In the picture I’m appropriately riding without a rear cinch, however, the billets are attached. That saddle is over 15 years old and in those days I usually braided the billets on (not removable). Interesting how our notions change over time. Live and learn.
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...