Tacking up your horse for the first time can be a little bit intimidating for new riders. We have broken the process down into a simple step by step process to make things a little easier.
Step 1: Make sure you groom your horse completely to remove all dirt and debris that may be stuck to his coat. When dirt and grime gets trapped under your saddle pad or girth, it can rub and create painful sores on your horse's skin.
Step 2: Place the western saddle pad on the horse's back, just covering the front of the withers. Make sure the saddle pad is even on both sides of the horse.
Step 3: Lift your western saddle up over the horse's back and gently set it down on top of the saddle pad, approximately two inches behind the front of the saddle pad. Slide the saddle and pad back slightly and allow it to settle on the horse's back. The saddle should feel like it is sitting securely against the horse's back and it should not slide forward or backwards easily. Pull your saddle pad up into the gullet of the saddle at the withers so that it is not putting any pressure on your horse's withers.
Step 4: Locate the girth. It is attached to the billet on the right side of the saddle and goes under the horse's belly to secure the saddle into place.
Step 5: Locate the cinch/ latigo strap, it should be coiled or hanging from a dee ring in front of the stirrup on the right side of the saddle.
Step 6: Bring the girth across the underside of the horse's belly, making sure it is not twisted and that there is nothing trapped between the girth and the horse's skin that could irritate the horse or cause it pain.
Step 7: Pull the cinch strap down from the dee on the saddle and create two loops between the the upper dee ring on the end of your girth and your dee ring on the saddle.
Step 8: At the end of the second loop, pull the end of the cinch strap through the right side of the saddle's dee ring. Bring the end of the strap across the front of your two loops and tuck it back into the dee ring through the underside of the ring on the left side of the saddle. This creates a loop that goes across the main portion of the cinch strap.
Step 9: Finish tying the cinch strap by taking the end of the strap and inserting it through the loop you have created. Tighten the knot and the girth by pulling all of the slack out of the cinch strap.
Step 10: Walk your horse forward a few steps, then check your cinch for tightness again before mounting. It is also a good idea to lift your horse's front legs one at a time and make sure there is no skin bunched up under the cinch before riding.