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Regional, Monthly All-Breed Horse Magazine
Distributed throughout the Greater Rockies Since 1993

 

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Copyright 2010 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

The Art of the Cinch

By Jane Lambert, Stevensville , MT

 

July 2010 Issue

 

     From the time that man evolved to riding horseback, cinches of one kind or another have been used to fasten saddles onto their horses. The early ones were purely functional and made from all-natural materials — leather, linen, cotton or twisted hair.

     In today’s marketplace, choices have expanded exponentially. Horsemen have many options available to them, and can use styles and materials to best fit their riding styles and needs.

     Since I do primarily trail riding, in fairly mountainous country, and ride for up to five hours at a time, I want all-natural materials next to my horse. I feel they breathe better, absorb sweat better, and are less likely to cause galling.

     I have used pure-mohair and mohair-blend cinches for years, but as they are hard to find and expensive, I decided to try and make my own.

     I found a company on the internet, purchased information and materials, and with their instructions plus an old, worn-out cinch, I set out to make my own.

     It’s pretty low-tech. You start with a board which has a nail at each end; the distance between nails gives you the length of the cinch. You place your cinch hardware top up over each nail, then string cording lengthwise back and forth between the cinch rings. In essence, this “warps” a loom for you to finger-weave a cinch across.

     Sounds simple, huh? It is, once you figure it out!

     Making a cinch involves a combination of half-hitches and finger-weaving, done in specific order and creating patterns. The execution is difficult in figuring out the instructions and in getting your tension pulled tight and even. I ended up taking apart the old cinch to figure it out. With practice, I made some nice, functional, traditional cinches with diamonds and lines.

     However, like other bunkhouse artisans, I challenged myself to see if they could be made beautiful as well as functional. I dyed the mohair; then, combining colors with new patterns of tying, gave my cinches some really unique looks.

     But no matter how artistic they become, cinches must retain their function, and be comfortable for the horse wearing it; so hide all your ends on the outside of the cinch, so that the underside always stays smooth.

      There are many reasons to make your own cinches, such as saving money, getting the right length for your horse, your horse’s comfort, and the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

     If you like the look of horsehair, but without as much prickle, you can also use yak hair. This retains the advantages of a natural fiber. These cinches are made in 17 or 19 strands, dry fast, and do not stretch like the 27-strand ones.

     If you have any good old cinches — the ones with solid brass or stainless steel hardware, cut off the old, stiff cordage, and recycle the hardware into a new cinch. I recycled my grandfather’s old cinch, and now a piece of him rides with me — and I only had to buy the mohair!

     You can match colors to your horse, your outfit, or your saddle blanket. You can weave in brands and initials — you are only limited by your imagination!

     So challenge yourself and create a really personal piece of tack for you, or for others, while fulfilling your creative urges, and save money to boot!

     You can also braid neck ropes, mecates, and breast collars in the same colors as your cinch — be a real mohair fashionista!

 

     Author’s note: Liquid Rit dye works well on mohair. Materials and instructions may be purchased at www.ubraidit.com.

 

     The author may be contacted at 406-777-5988; jane_lambert@msn.com.

Copyright 2010 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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