This Article was written for us by Dana Eklund with Big Sky Mohair Cinches.
Each mohair cinch is hand-tied in Bozeman, Montana, by sisters Dana and Tracy Eklund.
Big Sky Mohair Cinches was born out of necessity- a horse at the therapeutic riding program where they worked required a 42″ cinch- a tough size to find! Their goal is to create a highly usable piece of tack that is as functional as it is beautiful.
Because a comfortable horse can get the job done.
Like any tack, there will come a time when you need to wash your mohair cinch!
As far as cinch materials go, Mohair is a terrific choice in general due to the natural fibers being highly breathable, slightly elastic, and long wearing. Dirty cinches, of any material, are more likely to trap dirt/heat and cause soring. You can have a really nicely made piece of equipment, but if it’s extremely dirty or not adjusted correctly, soring can happen.
The more you care for your cinch by washing/rinsing it when it needs it, the longer it will last.
If you’re not riding much, or if your horse doesn’t break a sweat based on the activity you’re doing, you might be able to go a long time in between washes. We have a cinch I made five years ago that I still haven’t had to wash because it’s been used so infrequently- the cord is still soft and pliable, nothing is packed into the cord and there are no hard spots.
Mohair cinches do not need to be washed EVERY ride.
We wash ours when the cords start to feel “packed” or there are hard spots with dirt/debris/sweat. Depending on how often we are riding, sometimes this is every few months, and sometimes it will be a year if the cinch isn’t used much.
Because of the cuticle structure of Mohair, it’s actually considered to be slightly “self cleaning.” The cuticles are smooth and slip past each other, unlike wool fibers that lock on to each other and “felt” easily.
“Felting” is when hair or fiber starts to interlock, basically causing a solid mat to form.
It takes a lot of friction (generally when the fiber is wet) for this to happen. Normal washing and care alone won’t cause it. For cinch purposes, it’s best to avoid felting the cords together since the cinch can become much harder to clean over time. It will still be a comfortable piece of tack, it will just become tougher to clean if you ride in a lot of sand or grit.
In between rides, you can take a hard bristle brush to knock some dirt/debris out, which can also increase the longevity of the cinch. We’ve had customers put 5-6k hours on their cinches without ever having taken them off the saddle to wash.
Do we advise this? No. But does it speak to the long-term strength and useability of the fiber? Yes!
Again, the dirtier you let your equipment get, no matter the initial quality, the more likely there will be soring issues. If you’re riding a lot, just running your cinch under a hose will knock a lot loose if you’re rinsing it every couple of months, versus letting it get super dirty/crusty.
With use, your horse’s hair will also get felted in to the cinch itself.
You don’t need to worry about removing the hair- it actually creates a nice friction-free barrier for the horse as the hair fills in small gaps. That said, you should be keeping an eye on other things that are getting “packed in”, and the goal is to keep that debris out of the cinch long term- again, sweat, dirt, dust, etc.
If your cinch is ready for a full wash, this is what we recommend:
- Put in a washing machine (the agitation when wet can felt the cinch cords together)
- Use a power washer (this can damage the fibers)
- Soak in hot water (though this is hair, not wool, hot water can still cause shrinking)
If you’re someone that rides a lot or puts a lot of miles on, having a couple cinches to swap around can be a good thing so you always have something clean and ready to go.
Though a lot of us are already running short on time as far as taking the extra steps to care for equipment regularly, when it comes to your cinch, taking a few minutes could save you weeks of down time if a horse is needing time off to recover from a sore or girth itch. Most of the cases we’ve seen with cinches (of any material) causing rubs/sores are related to cleanliness, including the horse.
Taking the extra few seconds as you tack up to really make sure your horses cinch area is clean to start with can also increase the time you need between washes.
In the end, nature and hard use can be unavoidable and things are sometimes going to get dirty no matter the material you use.
But, if you take care of your equipment, it’ll take care of you!
Article written by Dana Eklund with Big Sky Mohair Cinches in Bozeman, MT
I want to thank Dana and Tracy for taking the time to write this informative article for us. Horsemen spend a lot of time and money acquiring the best gear for their horses, having the knowledge to properly maintain their use is priceless.
If you are in the market for a superior quality cinch, be sure to check out their website at Big Sky Mohair Cinches and see the beautiful mohair gear that they have available!
While you are in the gear cleaning mode, be sure to check out our video series, “Complete Saddle Cleaning and Conditioning,” to see how I recommend doing a deep clean on your saddle to keep it healthy and comfortable.