Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PSA: Always check your cinch!

Always check your girth/cinch as soon as you get on your horse. Yes, you should probably do it again after walking around for awhile, and most horses won't need much tightening, but it's not a bad idea to give it a quick check right after you get on and find your stirrups. Saddle pads will compress and many horses will let out air, and as I learned today you never know when something unexpected might happen.

George Thelwell © 1962
I'm usually really good at checking my girth as soon as I get on. Today, however, I got distracted by a question when getting ready to demo a young horse for a client, stopped halfway into checking the cinch in order to answer, and was subjected to a bucking spree a minute later when the mare scooted sideways because of a dropped hat and then freaked out because she felt the saddle start to slide.

While neither myself or the horse was hurt, the client's confidence in being able to ride her "broke" horse was understandably shattered. And I felt like a complete idiot. The worst part was riding out the buck knowing exactly why she was bucking, feeling like a fool because it was my fault, and knowing I would have to try to wait it out since I couldn't use any of my go-to "stop" tactics, like disengaging her hindquarters, for fear of losing the saddle out from under myself. Some people will advise you to just bail in that situation, but in my opinion just about the worst thing I could have done would have been to freak her out even more by flinging my own weight off one side and potentially causing the saddle to roll. So I stuck. And we survived (well, maybe not my pride).

I left the experience reassured that I must have damn good balance (that cinch was loose but both myself and the saddle stayed on and centered), but with an embarrassing feeling of rookie-ism and a determination not to let that kind of thing happen again. Next time I might not get so lucky.

....These horses, how they humble us.


  1. I'm glad you made it out okay. And we always learn the hard way! :P

  2. It happen. Glad you're both okay and, yes, you must have some seriously good balance to stay on. I've seen people get hurt more by bailing than by getting thrown. Good choice :)