Unless you’re into riding bareback, you`re going to need a girth. Considering it’s essential for the saddle, it can either make or break your rides, so it’s necessary to take precaution when choosing it. Same as you require a well-fitting saddle and the right horse halter , it’s a must to have a well-fitting girth.
Find the Right Size
Forget about “one size fits all”; same as us, horses come in different sizes. Both bigger and smaller girths can be troublesome for you and your horse. When the girth is bigger, it can fall off or affect your sense of balance. And if it’s smaller, it can cause discomfort for the horse. So, the first step to choosing from a vast array of girths for horses is to go for the right size.
Since this kind of equipment is fitted from one side of the saddle to the other under the horse, what you can do is use a piece of string to cover up this space, specifically between the two leather straps hanging from both sides of the saddle. Once this is done, measure up the length of the string and the number you get is the ideal girth size.
Choose Based on the Saddle Type
However, dimensions aren’t the only thing to consider when it comes to size. The type of the saddle itself has a say in it too. Though the standard horses usually require girths with a size around 130cm, you might end up with something bigger or smaller.
For example, in the case with the mono-flap design where the rider has the chance to feel closer to the horse due to the lack of extra bulk, there are longer straps so you’d even do well with a shorter girth. As opposed to this, with the conventional design with two straps, you’d require a longer girth.
Consider the Materials
Apart from girths for horses being available from various brands in different lengths and prices, they also differ in the materials they’re made from.
Leather – If you’re after a more traditional look, then look no further than this material. It’s one of the most durable options. And when cared for properly with suitable tack cleaning and conditioning products, it even becomes softer.
Synthetics – The more affordable types of horse girths are those made from synthetics, like heavy-duty nylon. They’re still just as durable and low maintenance – especially in the case with designs with removable bits like felt lining. Not to mention, such parts are also more comfortable for the horse.
Just as easy on the pocket, the neoprene girths are popular but they aren’t the ideal choice because horses can be allergic to this material.
Fabric – In case your horse requires something softer, fabric options such as cotton are recommended. Along with their great pricing, you’d prefer them because they’re perfect for machine washing.
The different materials aside, it’s advisable to think of aesthetics and choose girths in a colour that matches that of the saddle and the rest of the gear. Furthermore, you should have some additional aspects in mind, as in the example with elastic, covers, guards and anatomical girths. These are convenient if you have a girthy horse that doesn’t handle the other girths all too well.
Elastic – Such designs are elasticated in the middle or at both ends, and they’re great in the sense they offer a nice stretch. Though there are girths that have the elastic only on one side too, they aren’t that recommended because they cause uneven tension, especially if you use the elastic side to tighten them.
Covers – Since some horses feel discomfort with the girths, the addition of covers like those made from soft fleece or sheepskin can be of help. In fact, there are even those types of girths that are designed with these two pieces for comfort, so either buy them or add them later. As they provide cushioning, they’re useful for offering relief at the pressure points and protect the horse’s sensitive skin from sweat.
Guards – Also called stud girths, they’re recommended if your horse is prone to injuries from jumping. Usually, they’re made from leather which means they’re easy to care for, and they protect the horse from hitting itself by being designed with a belly plate. A word of caution is if you have a horse prone to tucking the front legs, in which case the guard can prove to be a hazard.
Anatomical – As you might guess, thanks to the anatomical shape, this type of girth is comfortable and can prevent the saddle from slipping with horses that have a forward girth groove. Moreover, it’s great for dispersing the pressure. Despite this, there are many girths that are said to be anatomical yet are still designed with a normal underlying structure, so it’s best to shop from a trustworthy supplier to be sure what you’re buying is of quality.