Horses are powerful animals, and we saddle them up to train and compete on daily. It sometimes is easy to forget, but it is very important to keep ourselves and our mounts safe by making it a habit to double check equipment and tack before each and every ride. Before you step up into the stirrup and swing your leg over your horse, make sure your saddling routine includes a daily check up on your gear.
Latigos & Flank Billets
Pronounced Latties, Lat-ee-gos, Ladda-gos, or Lat-i-goooo, named for the type of leather it is made from. However you say it, they should be replaced EVERY YEAR. It is an inexpensive form of protection if you think about it. The best way to do this would be to purchase a high quality latigo leather 1-3/4″ or 1-1/4” x 6’6″ latigo, which is for the cinch side, along with 1-3/4″ single or doubled and stitched offside latigo.
There are different types for different disciplines. Make sure you are using the most suited for your sport or hobby.
Ropers, Cutters, Ranch use: Use a single ply off-side latigo, looped through the cinch first and then doubled up through the saddle rigging and back to through the cinch.
Speed events and performance: You can use a doubled & stitched latigo or single ply off-side latigo, looped through cinch and doubled up through the saddle rigging and back through the cinch.
We recommend both the cinch side and offside latigos be tied by a professional, someone who specializes in leather work, has experience, or you can watch some How To videos. (see videos)
An incorrectly tied latigo is extremely as dangerous and as devastating as having one break. Annual latigo replacement is one of the best insurance policies for you and your horse.
On all latigos, and flank cinches — the center break, over fold, where the leather attaches to your saddle over time will oxidize against the metal rigging and becomes fatigued, making it prone to breakdown. Along with checking the latigo ties, check the condition of the leather underneath its break-over point in all four locations: d-rig or c-rig, and back cinch of your saddle.
Flank billets or back billets don’t wear as fast, and therefore do not usually need to be replaced as often but should still be checked at every saddle session.
Make sure your flank hobble (the little, unassuming buckle strap that holds the back cinch to the front cinch) is always in working order. It comes in contact with a lot of heat and sweat, which causes them to break down. If this piece of equipment breaks, you could find yourself unintentionally entered in the bronc riding. Martin’s Flank Hobbles are made from biothane, as it has no stretch and is resistant to horse sweat and heat.
Remember to check everything on your saddle every day. Make safety part of your routine by being aware of the condition of all your saddle’s parts.