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How to Choose a Cinch

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"...no self respecting old timer would have ridden a saddle without a mane hair cinch."
 

- Arnold Rojas
  Bits, Bitting and Spanish Horses

There are so many kinds of cinches (cinchas) on the market these days that figuring out which way to go takes a little trial and error. The good news is that the trials have been going on for a couple of hundred years and we have real "tried and tested" results in working situations.

Mane hair is superior for most horses. If you hold a mane cinch up to your own hair you will find that it attaches itself. Mane will do the same with the hair on the horse's hide. For this reason, mane hair cinches don't slip as much as other types of cinches and you don't have to cinch quite so much.

They will stretch up to an inch when new and sweated up or wet, so one has to check and adjust accordingly after crossing a stream, coming out of hard driving rain or after a long workout. They are handmade so the stretching takes a little while to stabilize.

You can hose them off with water periodically, but leave the hair. Hang them straight. Do not soak them in water and do allow them to dry completely before use. In humid areas, air circulation is important for drying without mold or mildew with all hair.

The hair "breathes," so heat doesn't build up causing all manner of chafing and other girth problems. In fact, we have seen horses that were "acting up" (trying to communicate discomfort) settle down as soon as a mane cinch (cincha) was used.

If you can, start using a mane cinch when the horses are shedding. Allow the loose hair to pack into the cinch, as shown in the picture on the left. You can start in the summer, but some horses are a little sensitive then.

The shu-fly or "mota" that hangs from the midpoint of the cincha help keep flies away from the midline. Some horses need to get used to these as they can tickle.

In choosing a any cinch, make certain that the strands, which are twisted like those for a mecate, are not tiny in diameter because you can catch a rowel in them. All of the natural fibers (even the synthetics, but please don't use these) need to be checked for foxtails and burrs after each riding session outside of the arena, as well as for wear and tear.


Mane cinches will provide many years of fine service. These were preferred by the horsemen of old California, when they could get them.

California Classics' Cinchas

Angora cinches are the next best. They are made of the guard hairs of the goat (the under hairs are mohair). Angora is tough and attractive (it looks like a fine horse hair), but the hairs do not catch in other kinds of hair so an angora cinch is more slippery than mane hair. Again, the strands should be fairly wide in diameter. They will also stretch up to an inch, even if made correctly with tight weaving.

 

 

 

 

Mohair cinches are the third best among the natural hair group and are very common. They also tend to slip more than the mane hair. All of these natural fibers "breathe" and therefore provide comfort for most horses. Mohair cinches are the least investment as to cost, and the variations in pricing are wide.

 

 

 

Whatever kind of cinch you decide on, look for really tight weaving with good brass/bronze hardware for years of service.

California Classics' Cinchas

 

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