The Savvy Station

What is a Rear Cinch on a Saddle? A How-To Guide

por Parelli Natural Horsemanship en Jun 05, 2024

What is a Rear Cinch on a Saddle? A How-To Guide

Western saddles often feature rear billet straps where a rear cinch (also called a back cinch) can be attached. You've probably seen rear cinches on horses doing ranch work or roping. A rear cinch can be helpful in any activity where the saddle might shift. When used correctly, it can increase stability. While most common in roping and ranch work, rear cinches are helpful for trail riding, speed events such as barrel racing, or rodeoing, and here at Parelli we believe it’s good for all horses, Western and English, to learn to accept a rear cinch with confidence and understanding.  

What is the Purpose of a Rear Cinch?

Rear cinches or rear flank straps are designed to be a secondary girth to support the front girth. They help prevent the saddle's cantle from lifting up as the saddle shifts. They also stabilize and help evenly distribute the weight, especially during events where the horse moves quickly. Rear cinches are popular in reining because they also prevent the rear of the saddle from lifting during a sliding stop.

How Tight should a Rear Cinch be?

To properly utilize a back cinch, it's crucial to adjust it to the proper tightness. It should be snug but not so tight that it causes discomfort or restricts the horse's movement. A good rule of thumb is to fit the cinch the same as you would your own belt.  Pat likes to say, “The rear cinch is not a decoration!” In other words, you shouldn’t see air in between the cinch and the horse.  This ensures the cinch is secure enough to function without causing discomfort. 

Loose rear cinches can create issues, too, so remember to continue to check your cinches throughout your ride.  When the back cinch is too loose, it puts more pressure on the horse's shoulders, creating pressure points. If you compete in reining or roping, your saddle will also lift. Finally, if your rear cinch is excessively loose, your horse can get a leg caught when kicking at flies.  We call this a cinch hobble, and it is not a pleasant experience for horse or rider. 

Where should the Rear Cinch be located?

While it may seem intuitive that a back cinch goes behind the front cinch, the placement of your rear cinch is important. The back billets of your saddle are generally 3/4 of the way down the saddle. The rear cinch is attached directly to the leather or nylon back billets.

Rear cinches should always be used with a short strap called a cinch hobble that attaches the rear cinch to the front cinch. This strap helps prevent the rear cinch from slipping back and becoming a bucking strap. It’s important that the cinch hobble is no more than 4-6 inches in length to keep the rear cinch from moving too far back.  The connection between front and back cinches also distributes the pressure across your horse's breast bone (sternum).  

Prior and Proper Preparation with Rear Cinches

Many people steer away from rear cinches because they fear their horse will feel the pressure and become a bucking bronco. However, that is not the case when a rear cinch is attached correctly. Prior and proper preparation is crucial. 

Here at Parelli we teach everyone to saddle up with 3 cinches, moving your horse around in between each one.  This allows you to incrementally tighten your cinches without causing discomfort for your horse.  We also call these “pre-flight checks.”  You would never board an airplane if the pilot had not determined that the plane had passed all of its safety checks.  You should never mount a horse who hasn’t passed his safety checks either.   Establishing a pattern of sending your horse around at a walk, trot, canter, and even over a small jump with the saddle on, prior to you getting on, not only gives you time to tighten your saddle in stages, but also ensures that your horse is comfortable and happy moving around, helping to set you up for a successful ride.  

Remember to stay savvy and safe on all your rides by following our step-by-step home study program here at Parelli.  We want you to live your best horse life!

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