The cinch (girth) has been in use for nearly 3000 years. The cinch made an appearance around 700 B.C. in the Middle East when Assyrian warriors added straps to their decorative saddle cloths.
In western riding, the girth is referred to as a cinch. The cinch is a piece of horse tack used to keep the western saddle in place on the horse. The purpose of the cinch is to anchor the saddle to the horse as comfortably as possible. The cinch should not interfere with the horse’s action. The cinch passes under the barrel of the horse. It attaches to the western saddle by a single, wide leather strap on each side, called a latigo or billet. The cinch is one of the most “taken for granted” items on the saddle.
The latigo or billet is a wide, flexible leather strap. The latigo is attached to the off (right) side of the western saddle at the saddle's cinch ring or "dee ring", doubled in thickness and knotted or buckled to the cinch. The latigo is usually kept attached to both cinch and saddle at all times, except to make fitting adjustments.
The latigo on the near (left) side is attached to the saddle at all times, but the loose end is used to secure the saddle for riding. It is attached by running it through the left cinch ring one or more times, back through the saddle's dee ring, and then finally buckled or knotted when tight. The latigo is loosened and removed from the cinch to take the saddle off.
Today’s cinch is made from various types of materials, including nylon, rayon, felt, cotton, and neoprene. The main objective of the cinch is to transfer sweat away from the horse's body and allow for evaporation. The above materials are strong, but do not absorb the sweat.
The old cowboys and traditional Vaqueros wove their cinchas from horse hair. It was effective and strong. In much the same vane of the old Vaqueros, mohair is used in today's cinch weaving.
Mohair is a natural animal fiber made from the hair of the Angora goat. The long silky hair is carded, spun and corded. The mohair is soft, durable, strong, lightweight and flexible.. Mohair is very absorbent and breathable, thus it is very comfortable for the horse.
The cinchas come in a variety of styles. They are either braided or woven and have different widths and include either brass or silver buckles or d-rings (dee rings).
The traditional vaquero cinch is a 19 strand style. The traditional cowboy and Vaquero woven designs are diamond shapes and have the influence of Native American symbols.