Where should my girth be?
Commonly we see Saddles on to far forward with girths rammed into the horse’s arm pits, this can be uncomfortable for the horse and completely alter the balance and fitting of your saddle so we like to use the guide of a ‘palm width’ behind the elbow. This helps to avoid the girth being fitted to far forward which in turn will help prevent chafing and rubbing. It’s also useful when tacking up and positioning your saddle correctly bearing in mind that your girth should to hang down level in line with the girth straps.
It’s worth noting that some horses do have a more challenging conformation and posture which makes their girthing position more forward, in these cases care has to be taken when selecting a suitable girth.
What is a point strap?
What is a point strap?
A point strap is a girth strap which is attached directly to the points of the saddle tree.
The attached image shows the strap location, you can see that the webbing part is threaded through the tree point pocket from the underside.
Saddle fitters tend to fasten on a point strap when a horse’s girth groove is quite far forward and where the saddle is inclined to travel forward, this more forward fixing point will help the saddle maintain its correct position.
It’s worth noting that not all horses like the feel of this girthing position and the neutral girthing position for this particular saddle would actually be girth straps 2&3, be aware also that not all saddles automatically come with a point strap, so double check with your saddle fitter which straps you should be using.
Girthing in the correct position is an integral part of good saddle fitting and can have a positive or negative effect on your horse’s way of going 🙂🐎
What is a Balance strap?
A balance straps is located further back on the saddle tree and Saddle fitters will use this fixing position when girthing for 2 reasons
Firstly to give stability at the rear of the saddle, some horses way of going can create a spring effect causing the saddle to bounce marginally at the back, girthing on both balance straps helps steady this giving the saddle greater stability.
Secondly a balance strap is used asymmetrically, by this we mean girthing on one of the balance straps, just on one side.
A horse and/or rider can sometimes encourage the saddle to move to one side because of their posture or way of moving, engaging the balance strap on one side creates a counterbalance, assisting the saddle to stay central across the horses back. If a saddle leaned to the right we would engage the left balance strap and leave the girthing on the right side in the neutral position.
If you are girthing asymmetrically it is vital that your saddle is regularly checked, through schooling and improving straightness the need for the continual counterbalance may not be required, long term this could be detrimental to the Saddles fitting and horse’s way of going if it is not withdrawn at the appropriate time.
Elastic or No Elastic?
As saddle fitters we don’t mind if your girth is elasticated or not, what we do prefer though is that the elastic is even or on both sides or in the middle.
From a fitting point of view symmetry is key and elastic one side can create a potential imbalance and may encourage more movement to one side.
We also recommend that where possible you girth evenly on both sides, not 5 up one side and 2 the other…. everything as even as possible please 😊
Which girth is best?
Girthing needs to be individual to each horse as all horses are different.
Many of the anatomical shapes girths work very well and when ridden & compared you can actually see the horse moving differently when they wear them. Prolite & Fairfax girths have scientifically proven such results. The Prestige RP although a little more radical in its looks is designed to give more freedom.
Neoprene girths work well for those horses with a very forward girth groove or wrinkles behind the elbow but if you are looking for leather with softness then the Albion girths are hard to beat.
Whichever girth you choose what is often overlooked is their Cleaning….. Dirty girths will be stiff and uncomfortable!! When cleaning it is also worth checking for general wear & tear, girths which are starting to split on the edges can easily rub and should be replaced and if stitching is starting to come apart, please avoid disaster and get it repaired 👍🏻
Saddle fit & girth fit are integral to each other to create maximum comfort and freedom for your horse. Ask your saddle fitters advice on which would work best.