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why can't I cinch this thing?

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  • why can't I cinch this thing?

    New to western, watched the videos, but when i wrap twice, walk him around, and then try to tighten, the latigo stick against the wraps and won't slide to tighten easily...

    The tongue buckle latigo/near side doesn't stay in hole and in loosens. if I try to Texas not, I have to do it while loosely cinched or I can't get the latigo to wrap...and then i cant tighten because latigo sticks on itself and doesnt slide.

    I am at an English barn..no local help. what is the trick?

  • #2
    Sometimes with a new latigo you have to "help" it around, by pulling down on the back and up in the front. You only do the knot after it's tightened. it uses a lot more force that I would have thought. Think being 10 and having to do the girth up yourself effort. Don't worry about the buckle tongue on the near side. it's just extra parts.


    • #3
      This is one reason why I do prefer a nylon latigo versus leather (especially when it's cold out and the leather is stiff and/or if it's very humid and the leather is sticky). But it still takes some OOMPH regardless. I wedge my elbow into my hip and use that as leverage to tighten the latigo.
      It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for confirming that it does get sticky and takes some force to tighten. When I have it tight enough to tie the Texas knot, I have trouble getting the latigo through the rigging, it is so flat against the saddle. However, after riding, if I don't knot it, it does loosen. The good news is that the new saddle is balanced enough to stay on him with a cinch that has two inches of air gap, lol.


        • #5
          If you have a leather strap and it isn't well broken in they can get incredibly sticky. I almost always change a leather latigo out for a nylon one unless you want to put the effort into breaking the leather one in.
          Did you know, today is yesterdays tomorrow and what you would leave for tomorrow you should do today?
          I am pro-Slaughter


          • #6
            Also don't be afraid to use the buckle if tieing the knot is difficult. you may need to punch holes in your strap but the buckle is just as secure as the knot.
            Did you know, today is yesterdays tomorrow and what you would leave for tomorrow you should do today?
            I am pro-Slaughter


            • #7
              I will differ on buckling the latigo to cinch for security. Using the cinch buckle is NOT a secure way to fasten down your saddle!! The cinch will loosen quickly in any case, you need to check tightness in about 15 minutes or suffer the consequences. That is just a safety factor on any horse.

              I have seen two wrecks when there was no knot in the latigo, just buckled tight before riding. Really ugly to see flying bodies, bucking horses as the saddles slid sidways. Yep, injured folks too with broken bones. I always say "buckle AND KNOT the latigo, then check it again for tightness after your 20 minute warm-up." Yes, that DOES mean getting off for checking! I have not ever seen a horse that did not need tightening of their cinch. And even with horse drinks, you should be checking cinch tightness every couple hours if you ride out that long.

              Learning things "the cowboy way", it can be a VERY LONG WALK back home even if you don't get hurt falling off. Even worse is knowing it IS YOUR OWN FAULT in not checking cinch sooner.

              You might try rubbing your latigo strap across a board edge or other firm surface to rub the unfinished side smoother. Like the rag across shoe toes for a shine. Kind of "accelerating" how latigo will wear smooth with use, for easier tightening. Leather latigo is slower in cinching up or coming undone on purpose or by accident because of that friction ( think safety). Friction might give you that fraction of time needed to save-the-day in not having an accident.

              Be careful with the nylon latigo straps. They ARE smoother, more slippery in use and can slither loose without attention from the rider. Luckily horse was tied as saddle slid around under him after a shake of flies. No one hurt that time.


              • #8
                Get some light leather conditioner, Lexol is fine and cheap enough, no need to overspend. Take the latigo home with you, let it warm up to room temp (warm leather is easier to manipulate the stiff, cold leather) sit in front of the tv and just work a small amount into the leather while bending, squeezing, stretching and flexing it for awhile. You can wear disposable very light weight latex gloves (drug store, $3) if you don’t want it on your hands...you want real thin so the warmth of your hands helps the pores of the leather stay open to absorb the conditioner as well as relax the leather..

                Repeat once a week but don’t over do it, you don’t want it to get soggy, it’s the bending and flexing more then the conditioners...and avoid oil, that glops it up and gets it sticky plus can mark up your horses hair coat. Remember leather walked around on a cow, it’s alive.

                There is a reason most long time riders have a love /hate relationship with new saddles, bridles, leather girths, boots, leather chaps and whatever. Patience and regular use make these things comfortable and allow the leather to regain its former flexibility and feel.

                Dont like nylon because it never really softens up but have used it and very much understand why others prefer it. But I don’t mind the bit of extra work and sometimes shorter life span of the leather. YMMV.

                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                • #9
                  I bought a new saddle (low-mid price range) that came with a latigo that was very thick and very wide. I mean, so thick that I couldn't imagine knotting it even if it was thoroughly softened. I went to the tack shop and ended up buying nylon, but the leather latigos they had were considerably thinner than the one that came with the saddle.

                  It was just weird. I had never seen such thick leather used to make a latigo. So, if you think the latigo seems really thick, you might stop at a tack shop to compare to what they're selling.
                  "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                  that's even remotely true."

                  Homer Simpson


                  • Original Poster

                    I think my latigo is normal sized and soft enough -- although I did put leather cream on it and I wonder if that made it stickier.

                    Do folks really dismount and check the cinch after riding? I do miss not being able to tighten from the saddle, but I thought eventually I'd know where the sweet spot was and could tighten to that point prior to mounting...


                    • #11
                      Would saddle soap followed by neatsfoot oil work? I've used them on saddles and bridles, never on a latigo. But then I've never worked with a new leather latigo, just used ones on used saddles, and new nylon ones.

                      I've also used Passier Lederbalsam, when I didn't have neatsfoot oil; but again, not on a latigo. You want it flexible, not slippery!

                      I've never used the buckle on a latigo. I just tie it.

                      I've also never worn any kind of gloves to condition leather. I like being able to feel the leather absorbing the conditioner and I feel like the touch and chemistry of bare skin on the leather gives a better feel for the work. Lederbalsam is a little bit of trouble to wash off, but soap and hot water work.

                      I use a sponge for the saddle soap, of course!
                      "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." -- George Bernard Shaw


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BlueDrifter View Post
                        I think my latigo is normal sized and soft enough -- although I did put leather cream on it and I wonder if that made it stickier.

                        Do folks really dismount and check the cinch after riding? I do miss not being able to tighten from the saddle, but I thought eventually I'd know where the sweet spot was and could tighten to that point prior to mounting...
                        I do it from the saddle if I feel the need. Just takes practice as with all things.

                        Tie your knot with things just snug, not tight. Then pull the from the bottom to tighten. At that point you then tighten the knot.


                        • #13
                          Yup, don’t pull to tighten from the not, kind of work where it’s wrapped to the girth then take that slack out at the knot. It’s hard to explain but gets better with practice.

                          Latigo is pretty cheap to replace if you find yours is really clunky thick. Never understood why they make them that thick...maybe think it might last longer but it’s easier to replace a worn thinner one then fight with thick, stiff leather. Get another latigo that’s thinner, it doesn’t have to be so thick, you wrap it so there’s layers so it’s plenty strong enough.

                          Don’t use so much product if it feels sticky.and I would not use neatsfoot.

                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          • Original Poster

                            Mine is definitely not thick -- but it is very soft and it doesn't slide easily upon itself even with my helping hand at the back. Practice makes perfect. At least I mastered how to "lock in" the buckle tongue..


                            • #15
                              never use neatsfoot on a latigo. It'll soften it too much/encourage stretch.

                              I bet you are pulling toward your belt to tighten the latigo, when you should be pulling UP toward your chin



                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BlueDrifter View Post

                                Do folks really dismount and check the cinch after riding? I do miss not being able to tighten from the saddle, but I thought eventually I'd know where the sweet spot was and could tighten to that point prior to mounting...
                                I cinch my horses up snug (not tight) when I first put the saddle on. Then I stretch them and get myself ready (put helmet on, cell phone carrier, etc). Then I bridle them and walk a few steps away from the trailer. I recheck the cinch before I get on and make it as tight as I can. I probably ride with my cinch tighter than most, but I also don't jerk when I tighten it. I'm making it tight, but do so gently and gradually.

                                When I am barrel racing, I will tighten my cinch a 3rd time, right before we make our run.

                                For regular riding, once in a while I'll feel that I need to get off and re-tighten the cinch, but that usually does not happen.

                                I never tighten my cinch from the saddle. I always dismount.

                                Personally, I don't like using the holes to do the cinch because I swear the holes are never where I need them to be. So I always knot.

                                It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.


                                • #17
                                  I only use the buckle when I'm riding, and before I go into the cutting pen, I dismount and tighten up the cinch. You'll get a feel for how tight it should be. It's really easy when you get used to it.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by TMares View Post
                                    I bet you are pulling toward your belt to tighten the latigo, when you should be pulling UP toward your chin
                                    This might be a clue -- trying it later today -- not much time for riding with all these fires and smoke.

                                    However, I attended Cowboy Christmas yesterday, the vendor show accompanying the National Finals Rodeo, and my latigo is just like all the rest -- new, but same soft/thickness -- so I think it is just me and practice.