Latigo or Billets?
I get a lot of questions about why I don’t use off billets, preferring instead to hang latigos on all four sides of my saddle. That is generally immediately followed with “why nylon?” and “why pink?”. Grab a cup of coffee and I’ll explain why I do what I do.
Most western style saddles have rigging dees ( they’re the big hefty rings) placed around the saddle and those attachment points are what the cinch ultimately hangs off of. And most saddles have a latigo (the long leather or nylon strap) on the on-side and an off billet (a shorter strap with holes in it) on the off-side. The rear dees generally have billets on both sides.
Latigo vs Billets
I’ve removed every billet on every saddle I own and replaced them with latigos. By using latigos exclusively I can very easily make precise adjustments to the cinch tightness from either side of the animal.
When riding you may only have the off-side to work on when adjusting a cinch. It’s much easier to do that with a latigo. Additionally the use of two latigos allows for an infinitely customized fit for my animals. Doing this keeps Ruger and girls more comfortable, the saddles in place, and me safe, all of which are good things.
Nylon vs Leather
The material for your latigos matters, after all it’s what holding your saddle on. I like nylon for the following reasons:
- Easy to clean
- Makes a smaller, more compact, knot
I dislike leather latigos for these reasons:
- Leather gets slippery when wet
- When cold leather gets stiff
The next time you’re cleaning and oiling leather, consider nylon latigo. It may not be the traditional leather tack most often thought of when thinking about tack, but it’s easier to tighten than leather, it’s lighter than leather and more affordable than leather and will last a life time.
Because I can.
The same mentor that introduced me to nylon makes most of his strapping from a huge roll of nylon webbing in a color that he calls “magenta”. I say it’s pink. It’s a great color that Ruger and I wear proudly. Besides, pink makes it easy to distinguish my gear from others.
Hope this helped you understand some of the pros and cons and using latigos or billets as well as nylon vs leather. For more trail riding tips visit the world’s largest guide to horse trails and camps; www.TrailMeister.com