Tying a western saddle is easy once you get the hang of it. If you've ever tied a men's necktie, you already know how to tie the knot that holds everything in place. Organizing and tightening the cinch strap so that it doesn't pinch, but doesn't stay too loose will take a bit of practice, though. And remember, your girth may seem tight when you first do it up, but it's wise to check it before climbing into the saddle.
Position the Saddle
Place your saddle slightly forward of where it should sit. Slide it back and settle it so that it sits comfortably on the horse's back. You can use an English saddle pad, though most people will probably use a western blanket. Just make sure it's folded properly.
The cinch will be hanging down on the right side and the cinch strap will be on the left side of the horse. On a western saddle, you may wish to hook the left stirrup over the horn to get it out of the way.
Pull up the Cinch Strap
The cinch strap is located underneath the fender of the saddle on the offside. The ring you will be tying it to should be easily seen and accessed as long as you hooked the left stirrup over the saddle horn.
Insert the end of the cinch strap down and towards the horse through the ring on the cinch. Pull it all the way through so it's a bit taut and the end of the strap is pointing back up to the ring on the saddle.
You don’t have to pull the strap tight against the horse at this point. However, you don’t want the cinch ring hanging beneath the horse either.
Pull the Strap Back Down
Insert the end of the cinch strap down and towards the horse again, through the ring on the saddle. Pull it all the way through and back down to the ring on the cinch. This will give you one complete loop between each ring.
Repeat to Take up the Excess
Depending on how long the cinch strap and the cinch is, you may have to repeat looping the strap two or three times between the ring on the cinch and the ring on the saddle. For strength, it's best to have at least two loops. Again, at this point don't worry about pulling the straps tight; you will tighten them securely later after the knot is tied.
Start the Knot
To tie the knot, loop the cinch strap through the saddle ring, over itself, and back up through the ring. This makes a knot similar to a man's necktie.
Complete the Knot
Insert the end of the cinch strap down through the resulting loop. You should see how it's similar to a necktie at this point. It is also somewhat similar to a lark's head knot used in crafting, although the straps will be overlapping rather than laying flat side by side.
The next step is tightening the whole girth, so make sure you have no twists in the strap. You want it to be lying flat on the horse to prevent chaffing.
Tighten the Cinch
After you have tied the knot, take up any slack in the cinch strap. Gradually pull on pieces of the cinch strap, starting with the first (innermost) loop, so that the cinch is tight and the saddle is secure. Depending on the length of the remaining strap, you may loop it through the keeper behind the saddle strap. Don't leave the cinch strap dangling.
Be sure to tighten your cinch again after your horse has moved around and relaxed. You want it snug enough so the saddle doesn't turn easily or slip sideways when you ride, but not so tight as to pinch the horse. You should be able to insert your fingers flat between the cinch and the horse.