Tips for Safely Saddling Your Cow Horse

If you’re new to riding, and in particular to riding cow horses, you may be unsure of the saddling steps you need to follow to be safe while riding and working cattle. Follow along on the video as cow horse trainer Wade Meador of Wade Meador Performance Horses guides us through the steps of saddling your cow horse. This video applies to saddling a well broke horse only.

“Brush your horse completely including under its belly where the girth and flank cinch will be” says Wade. “When you’re done brushing, stand at your horse’s shoulder and run your hand over your horse’s belly where the cinches will be to make sure you didn’t miss anything while brushing.”

“Check your pad or saddle blanket the same way you checked your horse” says Wade. “Look carefully at both the top and underneath of your pad to make sure there aren’t any burrs or stickers in it. Next, make sure you have your horse’s attention and then slide the pad on your horse gently. You don’t want to catch him off guard. Check to see that the center of your pad is in line with the spine of your horse. Also check that the front of the pad is aligned with the middle of your horse’s shoulder” says Wade.

The front and back cinches and breast collar should either be laid over the seat of your saddle or the cinches should be buckled to the keeper and the breast collar laid over the seat or the buckled tug should be around the horn. Make sure none of the straps are dragging so you won’t trip.

“If your horse accepts it you can saddle from either side. I like to saddle from both sides because it makes my horses more broke and balanced on each side.” says Wade. Standing at the shoulder of your horse gently swing the saddle into position and set it down carefully in the center of his back. You should have the same amount of pad or blanket showing on each side of the saddle and in the front and back of the saddle. If necessary adjust the saddle or pad.

Lift the blanket or pad up in front of the gullet to make a space under the pad. This takes pressure off your horse’s withers and allows air flow under the front of the pad.

Standing at your horse’s right shoulder pull your cinches down and check for any damage or wear. Also check your cinch hobble strap for damage or wear. Replace any latigos, straps and/or your cinch if they’re worn or damaged before continuing to saddle up. Move to the left shoulder and reach under your horse to get the front cinch. Depending on the length of your latigo use 1 or 2 wraps through the cinch buckle and saddle Dee to attach your saddle. When you put your latigo tail through the keeper make sure you have enough length that the tail stays in place in the keeper but not so much that it drags on the ground. Don’t cinch up tight to start. You want to let your horse relax. Come back after you attach the back cinch and breast collar to tighten it. Make sure you move your horse around before cinching up tight and mounting.

“I like to have an inch or 2 of space between the horse and my flank (back) cinch. I don’t want any more space because a horse can get a foot in that space if he kicks at a fly or kicks up while changing leads or something and that will cause a wreck. When I work cattle I always tighten my flank cinch up snug against my horse’s belly” says Wade.

“I like to reach over the top of my horse’s neck to grab the breast collar with my right hand and place it in my left hand to bring it around in front of the horse’s chest to attach it” Wade explains. “That way I’m not walking in front of a tied horse which can be dangerous if they happen to pull back. Attach your breast collar and check to make sure the breast collar is centered in the middle of the chest.”

“At this point step back and make sure everything is symmetrical from front to back and side to side. Make sure your back cinch isn’t too far back or forward and everything is straight” recommends Wade. “If someone else has saddled your horse be sure to look everything over to make sure it’s on correctly before you ride. Check the tightness of the girth and back cinch” says Wade.

All latigos, double off latigos and cinches are made by hand, one at a time, at Dennis Moreland Tack. There are a variety of sizes to choose from and we can custom split your latigo if you’d like. For more information call 817-312-5305 or write dmtack@vrfmail.com.

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