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Trail Test: Easy Cinch Up

Description: The Cinch Hook by Gratonjer allows you to tighten your cinch quickly and easily. It attaches to your Western saddle's latigo, then buckles to the cinch. With the leather latigo wrapped around the hook, tightening the saddle into place is easier than pulling the latigo through the saddle's hidden metal bar. The Cinch Hook stays in place after its initial installation, so you don't have to wrap and unwrap your latigo after each ride. The Cinch Hook also moves the latigo connection down away from the saddle's seat jockey and fender, and eliminates the need for a bulky knot.

To attach, feed the latigo through the Cinch Hook's top metal opening, then wrap through your saddle's front D-ring. Wrap the leather around down and through the Cinch Hook's bottom opening, and allow the excess to feed through the saddle's latigo holder. The Cinch Hook will then be ready to buckle into place each time you ride.

The test: The Trail Rider's Saddlebag Savvy editor Heidi Nyland tested the Cinch Hook. "I saw the device at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts and was instantly intrigued," she says. "The inventor, Jack Horsey, promised that the device would help make the saddling process safer and easier, and that riding would be more comfortable without the bulk of a leather knot beneath your leg.

"After watching the how-to video, I attached the Cinch Hook to my latigo within minutes," says Nyland. "Then I practiced attaching and detaching the device until I could do it with one hand. The Cinch Hook clipped securely into place as soon as I reached for the cinch. The cinch never hung loosely under my horse, because the latigo was already wrapped and hanging appropriately just behind my horse's elbow.

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"To tighten the latigo, it was easy to 'roll' the latigo into the proper and secure place. I then placed the Cinch Hook's buckle through the holes in my saddle's latigo. To release, it was easy to loosen the latigo and unclip the cinch. I'd recommend attaching a Cinch Hook to each side of your saddle, so that you can easily take off or switch cinches.

"The Cinch Hook is especially helpful when working with horses who are scared of the saddling process or when starting colts," Nyland says. "It speeds saddling, and can reduce the chances of a spooky horse stepping away with a half-attached saddle.

"I was impressed with the Cinch Hook's ease of use," continues Nyland. "The saddling process was different than usual, but easy to learn and do after just a few practice runs. I also really appreciate having less bulk under my leg when I ride - and not having to tie a nail-breaking knot."

Cost: $39.95.
Contact: Cinch Hook by Gratonjer, (405) 344-8137; www.cinchhook.com.

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