How to determine your cinch size: Measure your horse from the center of the underside of his chest in the girth area. Bring the tape up to just below the widest part of his ribcage (about 4" above and behind the elbow). Multiply this measurement by two and you will have a good idea of what size cinch your horse needs. Our Cinch sizes are crafted in 2-inch increments. A horse between 12 and 14 hands would most likely need a 22 inch cinch, 14 – 15 hands would need a 24 or 26, depending on how deep-bodied he is from withers to center of girth (or how chubby!), and then 28-30 for more round horses in the 15 hand range and 32-34 for large 16 – 18 hand horses. It is rare for a horse to need a cinch longer than 34, unless they are extremely large in stature. A horse requiring a cinch under 20 would be very small, indeed.
The cinch is measured from the inside outer ring of the flat brass buckle, which will hug the horse, not be bulky and not press uncomfortably on the exterior abdominal veins*, which carry blood flow from areas of the abdomen to the heart and lungs. Note: it is unwise to over-tighten your cinch, and your saddles should be well balanced and secure without doing so. Over-tightening the cinch is uncomfortable for your horse in the buckle/latigo area, plus puts undue pressure on the wither area. If you need to tighten more securely for extreme maneuvers such as cutting or roping, please do so for as short a time period as possible. In our experience, a shorter girth will actually help with saddle "roll" more than a longer cinch will. If you choose to use a cinch buckle "chafe" or cover, it is important to keep it clean of dried sweat and dirt, or it can be abrasive and cause cinch sores. 5Star western cinches are woven of natural mohair, which cleans easily and should remain soft and comfortable to the horse. It is always important, of course, for the rider to make sure that the cinch is lying flat against the horse's body and has no wrinkles or folds, and that the horse's skin is not folded nor pinched anywhere!
Cinch Fit: Is your cinch the right size for your horse? When you unsaddle your horse after a ride, if you notice a swollen/puffy place where your western cinch ring was located, it's not a good idea to ignore it, even if it goes away in a few minutes. Swelling in the area along your horse's side where your cinch buckle was located can be an indication that your cinch is too long for that horse and usually pulled too tight. Over tightening may be related to a saddle that does not fit the horse, or to a rider who braces hard in the stirrups for balance and worries about horizontal "roll" of the saddle. This situation is detrimental to the horse as well as the rider and can result in sore backs for both, as well as damage to the "heart girth" area of the horse's body. Behavioral problems in the horse are a natural phenomenon resulting from such discomfort.
Swelling can result from pressure on the exterior vein, which is a major vessel carrying blood to the heart and lungs. This vein follows a route from the abdomen along the outside of the rubs toward the shoulder, behind which it loops upward to pass behind the shoulder blade (scapula).
On the horse's side, just behind the front leg, there is a flat area. The vein loops upward above this area, and that is where the cinch ring should be positioned. Positioning the hard cinch ring directly on top of the vein adds pressure that traps blood, stresses the vessels, can harm the capillaries and result in bruising pressure damage to the soft tissue. 5Star has an assortment of different brass and stainless steel buckles. They are flat backed to disburse pressure better than the round ring type. However they still need to be placed correctly, not directly on the major vein.
When roping or in extreme riding conditions, a cinch will need to be tightened to the extreme for longer than necessary. Even though the cinch may be of a correct size for the horse, the latigo crosses the external abdominal vein and can block blood flow to cause vascular damage and bruising of the muscles and soft tissue.
We are here for your horse!
I bought my first 5 Star pad over 15 years ago. I have had several over the years. When I started looking to replace it and become a dealer I inquired to everyone I could about what was the finest saddle pad made. I always heard about this little outfit in Arkansas called 5 Star.
I train cutting and reining horses. Both disciplines require a lot out of my horses, and I have never had a sore backed horse yet. I brought a few up for some clients of mine that are into western pleasure and roping, and they are as pleased as I am. In fact, I need to put in another order!
In 2009, Shoii shattered the knee joint of his right hind leg, rendering unable to flex the joint once it healed. Although his body was a little beat-up, his heart certainly was not and I could tell that it was still very important to him to "take me out for a ride."
I first decided to purchase a 5 star pad after hearing all of the awesome reviews on it and learning that they have the most virgin wool out of any other saddle pad on the market. I have ordered 3 pads and I am hooked! My horses stay comfortable whether it be during speed events or long trail rides.
When I was able to purchase a new saddle I bought another Five Star pad because I was so impressed with them. They are beautifully made and very durable. I absolutely love these pads!!!