Because there are so many first-time western saddle owners that buy from us, we decided to write a quick and helpful article on…
How to Rig your Western Saddle
Western saddles usually are sold with one long latigo strap and one short latigo strap. The straps are fastened to the front rigging D’s (one on each side). The short strap has holes in, so as to put the buckle through and the long strap gets tied with a Texas T.
Having the correct rigging is both a necessity of having a safe ride and it influences the riding activity you have planned.
Western Saddle Rigging basically has three positions:
- Full Rigging:The front cinch is right underneath the pommel behind the elbows, meaning the saddle and rider are right over the horses centre of gravity. This makes full rigging a good choice for saddle-stressing events such as roping or cutting.
- 7/8 Rigging:The front cinch is 7/8 of the distance from the cantle to the pommel (the cinch is a little farther back than a full position). This position allows more elbow room for your horse; lack of interference with motion makes this position popular with reiners, trail riders, and barrel racers.
- 3/4 Rigging:The front cinch position is 3/4 of the distance from the cantle to the pommel (the cinch a little farther back than a 7/8 position). This creates an even pull on the front and back of the saddle, anchors the saddle better under the rider and prevents sliding. It’s considered ideal for the high-action runs, turn, and stops it’s also preferred by trail riders who ride on a steep terrain.
In addition to the position of the front cinch, you can either have double rigging or single rigging. Single Rigged, means there is a front cinch, but not a back cinch. Most pleasure riders ride single rigged and if you are not going to ride rough on steep hills and have quick turns then single rigged is fine for you. Double Rigged, means there is a front cinch and a back cinch. A back cinch helps anchor a saddle during rigorous riding; ropers need one to keep the cantle down, and trail riders often find it helps keep the saddle from sliding forward while going downhill.
Which Rigging’s for You?
- Determine the rigging style best suited to your event or riding style.
- Consider your horse’s conformation. If you horse has high withers, a full-rigged saddle will tent or slide back, so a saddle rigged at the 7/8 position, or farther back, is better. On the other hand, a mutton-withered horse that’s built downhill needs a full-double rigging to keep the saddle from sliding forward.
- Check for quality. Cinch ring hardware should be made of stainless steel, bronze, or brass; stay away from aluminum and chrome plate, which corrode or rust with use. (Quality hardware is a hallmark of well-made rigging and also of a high-grade saddle.) Check the leather?it should be soft and supple, not dry and cracking. Pull hard on the cinch ring to see how firmly it’s attached. Saddles made in Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries are generally of lesser quality than American-made saddles. Reputable manufacturers offer warranties on the rigging.
After you buy your saddle, check the rigging for wear and tear before each ride. If the leather creaks when you pull on it; has cracks, tears, or loose rivets; or doesn’t look “right” for any other reason, take your saddle to a reputable repair shop. You’re only as safe as your rigging is solid.