Using a rear cinch for trail riding?? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 79 Old 08-18-2015, 08:14 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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"If you need your weight in the saddle to prevent the back of your saddle from popping up, then your saddle doesn't fit."

If you tied a board to a table at one end, and then bounced the other end of the table up and down, that end would flap. It would fit perfectly, but the motion of the table would toss the loose end up and down.

If in doubt, I'd rather have a saddle tree with too much "rock" than too little. If it curves too much, I lose some of the weight distribution capability. If it bridges, then I create pressure points at both ends. The former is less harmful than the latter.

After several months comparing different trees and forms on Mia, I had a saddle made for her using the best fitting one (based on both my observations and the pictures I sent "SouthernTrails", and after discussing backs and trees with the head of the Steele Saddle Tree LLC. This is how it looked if she ate grass with the saddle on:

This is how it looked when I rode her:

Bandit has a flatter back than Mia. Ideally, I'd buy another saddle for him. But I can't afford a custom saddle for every horse. In fact, he is such a slender horse that a perfect fit would probably require a custom saddle tree to go with the custom saddle. But since the saddle seems to stay on him if I mount with the cinch loose, and has stayed on him during several spooks with a cinch that was fairly loose, and since he doesn't act bothered, I figure it is close enough. When I tried him with my Australian saddle, it DID seem to bother him after an hour or so - so the Aussie saddle is retired for now.

The important thing from my perspective is that the saddle stays put even if the front cinch is looser than I like and with no rear cinch. My weight will create even pressure, not a second cinch in the rear. I don't want to test it, but I think my saddle would stay on him if my cinch fell off - as my daughter's did with Trooper.

BTW - some of my comments are based on seeing a video where a respected saddle tree maker compared a rocking chair on a floor to a saddle. He said the rear cinch was needed at all times to prevent the rocking chair from rocking. I think the answer is to both get a better fitting saddle, and to put some weight on the saddle - like a human. The loin will always move more than the withers, so more motion will always be applied to the back end of the saddle - even with a tree that fits well. But you do not use a rear cinch to strap down the rear end of a rocking chair on a table-top horse's back - I'm pretty sure we all agree on that!

When someone ropes cattle, it is a different story. I can't speak to hills, since the ones I'm willing to ride up or down don't stress things the way some of our more adventurous members do when riding in places that would make me wet my pants just to look at! I also know some folks who use a rear cinch and breastcollar every time they ride, although they don't ride anything more adventurous than me. They just like the look & feel and their horse seems happy so I'm happy for them. I think they LOOK cool, but it is just more tack to carry to me...

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post #12 of 79 Old 08-18-2015, 08:23 PM
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I ride with both a breast collar and back cinch 100% of the time...but it is more out of habit than necessity and because I like the look LOL. After using them for so many years, a saddle looks naked to me without them.

If the saddle fits well, you really shouldn't need either unless you are doing a high-torque event or riding exceptionally steep trails. The purpose of the back cinch is to ensure even pressure is maintained along the bars in circumstances where the saddle might otherwise become unbalanced in spite of your weight as when riding down a VERY steep hill or when you are roping or doing a lot of hard stops or fast turns (barrels, cutting, etc).
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post #13 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post

This is how it looked if she ate grass with the saddle on:

I'm not sure what your point is here because you don't fit a saddle when the horse has its head down eating grass.

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post #14 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 09:21 AM
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We ride some trails with lots of hills and rocks. We ride with both a back cinch and a breast collar (in our case pulling collars) Our back cinches are snug to the horses belly without being tight- they have proven their usefulness to us in certain situations so the extra tack and time it takes to fasten is worth it to us. As another poster said we (my family of 3 riders) will not ever ride without a breast collar. It has saved saddles from slipping backward and sideways far too many times to be left at home.
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post #15 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 09:34 AM
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^^ I don't have any pictures of her with an empty saddle and NOT eating grass. In that situation, the rear still tended to tip up...probably because it is 7/8 rigging and I generally tie the cinch tight before I get on so I don't need to tighten it 5 minutes after mounting.

Even with me in the saddle, if I carried my weight forward and cantered, the rear lifts up a little - some of that being skirt, which is not weight bearing anyways:

However, the tree itself - the weight distributing part - looked like this on her back:

So what I'm saying is that a saddle with a forward cinch can look like the back is raising, but be fine once a person's butt is in the saddle. An empty saddle with pressure on one end will not be the same as a saddle with a rider, because the rider will create an even pressure that is greater than the pressure applied by the cinch - unless one tightens the cinch to the point of inhumanity.

To use imaginary numbers: Suppose a person applies 20 lbs of force using the cinch on the front 20% of the saddle. Now a 150 lb person sits in the saddle. If it fits and the rider is balanced, there is now 30 lbs of downward force on the front 20%, 30 on the next 20%, 30 on the middle 20% and so on. Since the rider is creating more downward force than the cinch was, the cinch gets looser. The pressure is now even.

Unless the horse starts bucking, or someone is turning around barrels, roping, jumping or doing some other activity not normally a part of trail riding, the cinch has become irrelevant. The cinch becomes a backup means of keeping the saddle on and stable during high stress moments and is not needed, front or rear, to keep the saddle balanced on the back.
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post #16 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 10:43 AM
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Yes, to arear cinch done up when trail riding in rough country, and it certainly does not mean your saddle does not fit, if you use one.
Among the clinics I have taken, one was given by an outfitter that is also a saddle maker
In his words, 'if you are going to ride with one loose conch in the back country, make it your front one!
Even on the best fitting saddle, if you only use a front cinch, there still is that slight back and forth motion over the loins, which will sore a horse, riding all day, in up and down steep conditions esp
Also, if you ride with abreast collar, that back cinch will keep that collar from pulling the saddle too far foreward, and again, soring the horse
I don't cinch it up as tight as my front cinch, but it is snug

Stabilization, is also the reason pack saddles have two cinches, and both are done up tight
MY show saddle does not have a back cinch, as one does not need it there, even with fast arena moves, but then you are not riidng that horse on all kinds of terrain for extended hours
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post #17 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 10:46 AM
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bSMS, you don't ride in mountains, and anyone making a living here doing so, or people that do extensive trail riding, will disagree with you on that back cinch issue
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post #18 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 10:54 AM
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Some info:

How to: Attach the Breastcollar and Back Cinch from The Trail Ride | EquiSearch
Info form a trail riding site, including back cinch

10 Saddle-Fit Tips for Your Next Trail Ride | The Trail Rider

From this trail riding site, on Back country basics
Back Country Basics : Trail Tack : Kinsey Horsemanship

A rear cinch provides extra security as you ride down embankments or steep slopes. Plus, it prevents the saddle from tipping forward if you lose your balance and tip forward against the swells. However, make sure you have a connector strap between the front and rear cinches to keep the rear cinch from sliding back into the horse's flank.

Tip: Accustom your horse to the feel of a rear cinch before you hit the trail. Riding with a loose rear cinch because your horse doesn't like it snug is asking for trouble. If you can't get your horse to accept a snug rear cinch, take it off. Riding downhill isn't the time to have your horse start bucking when the rear cinch becomes tight.

Here is a video on fitting a breast collar and back cinch correctly, for trail riidng (not flat desert riidng)
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post #19 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 11:11 AM
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I trail ride exclusively, I have had horses and mules and there is no way I would go out without a breast collar and rear cinch. With good fit, the front cinch can stay slightly loose, in fact, if it is snugged up half way through a ride, I have known the horse to get some galls.

I have seen way too many accidents on slopes that arent even that steep, the saddle slid forward onto the horses neck, effectively dumping the rider.

Horses and mules are built different, a mule saddle needs to ride back a bit farther to stay off the moving scapula (shoulder). I always use a pulling type breast collar and a britchen. If I ever go back to a horse, I would train the horse to accept a britchen as well.

As far as cruppers, if that isn't adjusted properly, it can pull off as well - seen that too! I guess that is what being OLD gets me, seeing lots of "what not to do" out there!

To each his own though.

The rear cinch needs to be snug, not overly tight (on a horse) must mules are cinched up tighter in the rear cinch as a rule, sometimes using a string girth in the back as well as the front. I personally centerfire from the front to the rear rigging, keeping the girth out of my mule's armpits.
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Wendy B / Sedgwick, KS / Extreme Trail Riding / Camping
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post #20 of 79 Old 08-19-2015, 11:15 AM
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ready to start the day

Back cinch country

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