Nylon vs. leather centers
FULL DISCLOSURE- these posts and everything on this blog is *our* opinion. Through trial, error, and observation, we've spent a lot of time taking cinches (both our own as well as "big companies"!) apart, changing how we construct things, and observing which construction techniques tended to maximize comfort for the horse. There are MULTIPLE ways to do all of these techniques, and no "right or wrong" necessarily. We are super picky and choose to focus on constructing these in a way that we would trust and use for our own horses- if we wouldn't put it on our own horses, we don't expect you to put in on yours. Which brings us to leather centers!
We've had many folks ask over the years if we would do double layer leather centers (photo below) on our cinches. We will not, for a few reasons.
1) Leather can get dried out and wrinkly over time. With excessive sweat and water, it's just a matter of time before it becomes stiff and uncomfortable if not regularly cleaned and oiled. Have you ever oiled/conditioned your cinch center?! (We haven't either, haha! We are lucky to get them washed once a year...) Leather centers can also end up with a dried-up "ridge" around the edges as well (photo below)- not comfortable!
Our nylon reinforced centers are wrapped with 2 ply Mohair- so the side against the horse is soft.
2) To sew through leather, you generally need to use a sharp/cutting tip needle. We DON'T want to cut the Mohair though, for obvious reasons!
We use a round tip needle when sewing our nylon in, so the Mohair fiber integrity is not compromised in the dee reinforcement process.
3) For small horses, many of the leather centers you see in the store (usually about 4" wide) are almost TOO wide for them- you have to be very careful to make sure that cinch is perfectly centered, so the leading edge of the leather part is not rubbing in the armpit area. The 1" wide nylon we use, however, is plenty strong for the application and tends to be more streamlined even for small horses/colts. Well-tensioned cords do a good job distributing the pressure- so in our opinion, you don't need the centerpiece itself to be overly wide!
As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out! Again, there is no "right or wrong" with any of this. With tack construction of any kind, we feel it is very important for a maker to have a "why" behind doing something (or not) a certain way, so hopefully, this is an interesting glance into how decided to stick with nylon centers, versus leather!
Because a comfortable horse can get the job done.