The Rigging of the Western Saddle
Like so many other things, the rigging of a saddle is where it is today through evolution. The cowboy had a “working” saddle that did a little of everything on the ranch such as gathering cattle, rescuing cattle, breaking horses, etc. Different saddle types require different “rigging” for each specific use. The term “rigging” is used to refer to how the cinch strap attaches to the saddle to hold the saddle in place. The rigging hardware can be done with several different options. If you’re buying a quality saddle don’t worry too much about O-rings, D-rings or plates. Sit in the saddle and see if it’s comfortable and then decide if seven-eights or whatever is right for you.
There are basically two types of rigging: conventional in tree rigging and inskirt rigging. Conventional rigging places the bulk of the cinch strap under the rider’s leg. Inskirt rigging is just as secure. With it, the rigging hardware is built directly onto the saddle skirt, either built directly on the skirt or for extra security, built “in” the skirt, where the rigging is attached to an extra metal plate between two layers of leather on the skirt. Some will tell you they think the “in-tree” rigging is the stronger of the two, but both are proven sturdy.
The next differences in rigging are the “Single” or “Double” styles. In Single rigging the flank strap is not used. Instead, the rigging hugs the saddle toward a center point. Double rigging includes both the cinch and the flank strap. The double rigging is especially necessary with roping or any other event that may cause the saddle to want to tilt upwards. Double rigging adds stability for riding in very rough country with ups and downs. Otherwise, the back cinch is, according to some, just another piece of leather to worry about, so they will prefer single rigging.
The Position of the rigging on most saddles is dependant on what the saddle is being used for. Three-way rigging allows you the option of choosing a full double rig; 7/8 double rig; or 3/4 double rig. Rigging that sits under the mid-section of the saddle is called a “centerfire” rigging. Each position toward the horn is given a defferent measurement: 5/8, 3/4, or 7/8.
Most details of your saddle are all personal preference and the rigging is no different. Each detail depends on the use of the saddle, whether it be for showing or private use in trail riding, etc. The other factor is personal preference. As we all know, we are all different and have different sizes and shapes that we have to confirm to when pick a saddle.
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