There are numerous types and designs of cinches available. Which is the best? What is most comfortable for your horse and why?
As with saddlepads, the first step is to look at the horses shape and the job s/he needs to do. Does the horse have a narrow or forward girth groove? Does it have any issues with ‘girthiness’? Is the saddle treeless? Do you want the horse as comfortable as possible?
Makes of cinch stocked by TWS:
The Mattes Equestrian cinches come in different styles to accommodate different shapes of girth groove and ribcage. Genuine sheepskin cinches are the most comfortable cinches that you can buy for your horse. They have a very deep pile that stays plush for a long time. They absorb sweat well. Sternum injuries are commonly seen due to over tightening of the standard, narrower, non-Mattes cinches. If you ride in a treeless saddle and do up your cinch tighter than usual, for stability, then Mattes make an asymmetric cinch, which distributes the pressure over a larger area over the sternum – so will definitely help reduce the incidence of injury and dramatically increase horse comfort. We have found that horse's don't tend to blow out before being girthed up with these cinches. They can be washed in a machine and come with care instructions. They also come in a wide range of colours. Since we started selling these cinches – they have quickly become the most popular cinch we sell. It is imperative to always girth evenly and symmetrically on both sides.
Here is the information from Mattes’ website about their cinches and girths: Mattes Cinch & Girth Product Information
Felt cinches are made from 100% wool felt. They can be washed but are not as easy to care for as neoprene. Again, the weightbearing area is not nearly as good as the Mattes and they are not shaped enough to help with the horse's elbow movement. TWS does sell one type of shaped felt cinch.
Mohair string cinches suit some horses, but not all. It has been known for string cinches to pinch and cause girth galls. TWS does sell them but only recommends them for the rare horse that the Mattes cinches don't work for.
TWS does not sell the following:
Synthetic fleece cinches are the cheapest you can buy and are a good bargain cinch. These cinches are not nearly as comfortable for the horse as the Mattes cinch due to the shape, as the weightbearing area is much reduced in comparison. They don’t tend to cause problems with rubbing, but do not retain their fluffiness for that long. They can be washed but are not as easy to care for as neoprene. If the saddle is at all prone to slipping an artificial fleece cinch will not help with stability. TWS does not sell these.
Neoprene cinches are widely used. They are very easy to keep clean and some offer good grip. If the saddle moves or the horse is sensitive to neoprene it can cause sores. Horses get very hot under neoprene as it does not breathe. Neoprene should only be used for short periods of time (research showed no longer than 30 minutes) due to it restricting the skins breathability. TWS doesn’t sell neoprene cinches due to them causing soreness and heat issues on horses.
Measuring for a cinch:
Ideally if you can ride in the western saddle with any cinch, it will help you measure for the correct size. Make a note of the cinch size, from buckle tip to buckle tip. Cinch up and ride as usual, remembering to check and tighten your cinch as necessary. Once you have finished riding, dismount, measure 6-8″ from the skirt edge, both sides, to the start of the cinch and add these measurements to the cinch length. This is the length of the cinch you require.
Here is a link to a video we made to show how to measure for a correctly fitting cinch but you do need to have a cinch to do this accurately: Measuring for a cinch