3/4 Single Rig

Most of the saddles I build, especially the 3B Visalia-style, have 3/4 single rigging. Many horsepeople nowadays don't understand the single rigging or have misconceptions about it, so I'm going to do my best to explain it.

First, when you saddle up, put the saddle in position in its "sweet spot", with the front bar tips (under the front conchos) in the withers hollows right behind the shoulder blades. Shift the saddle side to side just a bit to help it settle into place (this will get easier as the woolskin packs down over time). Let the cinch hang where it naturally falls, which is going to be a few inches behind the elbow, as seen in the picture:


single-rig saddle

Snug up the cinch like you normally would (in three stages, with some walking between, to allow your horse to "deflate" a bit). This is the appropriate position for the cinch. DO NOT let anyone tell you that the cinch must be right behind the elbow - that's incorrect, and wrong for both the saddle and your horse. If the cinch migrates a bit while you ride, that's okay - like the saddle tree, the cinch will find its "sweet spot" and stay there.

So why a 3/4 single rig? It's more functional, more comfortable, and safer for the horse in most situations. A single rig in the 3/4 (or 5/8, or CF - centerfire) position pulls down evenly on both the front and back of the tree, and will not cause sores or galls behind the elbows or shoulder sores from too much pressure directly below the fork and horn.

The single rigging is safer in that there is no back cinch hanging dangerously loose (and how many riders have you seen with back cinches hanging way loose, doing no good whatsoever to keep the saddle from flopping/tipping and just waiting to catch something and cause a wreck?).

A single-rigged saddle is also lighter weight (and less expensive) because it doesn't have the weight of the back cinch and billets.

Many horsepeople who are comfortable with single rigging ride with a 5/8 or CF rigging, the way the old vaqueros rode for centuries. The 3/4 position is designed for modern day riders who are accustomed to double rigging and need to ease into the idea of a single cinch sitting farther back.

There are occasions when a double rigging, either full (directly below the center of the horn/fork) or 7/8 (about an inch back from full, halfway between full and 3/4) are appropriate. If you are team roping, or doing a lot of heavy dragging or yanking on your saddle horn, a full double rigging will help your saddle and your horse handle all the pressure on the horn and keep the saddle from tipping up forward (assuming the back cinch is snug). The full double can cause sores, however, both on the shoulders and behind the elbows, so the 7/8 double was invented to ease off those problems (and to firmly cinch down saddles that don't fit the horse).

Personally, I ride in 3B saddles with 5/8 single rigging and mane hair cinchas. Because the trees fit the horses, the saddles don't move. Even after I snug up the cincha (just snug, not tight) it loosens as I ride, and even though the cincha can end up being barely snug against the horse, the saddle never moves or slips side-to-side, even on a flat-backed, mutton-withered horse.

 

 

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