BRAID IN THE USA
Maker: 5 Star Equine.
Why buy: A flat dee-ring buckle won’t pinch, and 100-percent natural mohair cord is soft to ensure for a comfortable fit.
Cool feature: The vaquero-style cinch is available in a variety of vibrant colors in a flashy pattern.
More info: (407) 389-6328; 5starequineproducts.com.
Model: SensorFlex fleece straight cinch.
Maker: Classic Equine.
Why buy: Soft and flexible, the fleece-backed cinch is padded with a nylon upper and treated with an antimicrobial agent to stave off bacteria growth.
Cool feature: The Sensorflex fleece technology is available in straight- or roper-style cut.
More info: (800) 654-7864; equibrand.com.
Model: Soft-touch cinch.
Why buy: The six-layer neoprene design is flexible and doesn’t allow the cinch to twist or distort out of shape.
Cool feature: The self-lubricating material staves off friction and girth discomfort.
More info: (800) 548-2487; reinsman.com.
Price: $56.96 to $65.95 depending on the cut style selected.
[WATCH: Tips for Selecting a Cinch]
Model: Alpaca cinch.
Maker: Weaver Leather.
Why buy: The alpaca fiber is durable, soft, and moisture-repellent to keep your horse dry and comfortable.
Cool feature: The natural fibers are elastic, so stretch and retract to accommodate lung expansion.
More info: (209) 566-7800; ridethebrand.com.
Price: $72.29 to $79.09 depending on the cut style selected.
Your saddle won’t stay on without a solid cinch, so it may seem like a no-brainer to take good care of it. Still, it can be easy to skimp on quality maintenance and cleanliness practices, opting instead to crunch in a quick ride and sacrifice good care. Implement these four steps into your riding routine to ensure that your equipment and horse stay in tip-top shape.
[READ: Best Western Saddle Pad Advice]
Groom like you mean it. Caked mud or hardened, crusty sweat beneath your horse’s girth can mat his hair and then rub against his cinch to cause sores or fungus growth. Use a curry or stiff brush to loosen and remove debris, especially in places that your saddle and gear will sit, before you tack up.
Complete a pre-tack-up gear check. Does your cinch have accumulated hair, dirt, or grime on its surface? If so, brush it off or hang it and thump it like a rug to remove loose dirt. Even if your horse is well groomed, gunk on his cinch can still cause irritation and sores.
Don’t forget, post-ride gear check. Most cinch material can be rinsed off to remove riding grime, sweat, and hair. Remove clumps of debris from your cinch’s surface before storage, and be sure to store it so it can dry fully. (For more cinch-care tips find “It’s a Cinch” online.)
Rinse after the ride. Not only will your horse appreciate a cooling rinse after a tough session, the water also will remove most of the sweat and arena dust he’s accumulated during the ride. Note: Let him dry completely before releasing him in his stall or pasture where he’ll likely roll.