Girths for Horses
Whatever style of saddle you ride in, treed or treeless, leather or synthetic, you are going to need a girth. It is such a simple item of tack - a big belt that goes underneath the horse, from one side to the other, to hold the saddle in place. Yet there are so many different styles to choose from!
Types of girth
In general, there are various different types of girth, the most common are Standard Girths, Stud Girths and Dressage Girths. They can be made from a variety of materials, but leather or manmade hi tech materials are the most common.
Standard girths are designed to be used with GP (general purpose), Jumping and Event saddles. These saddles traditionally have fairly short girth straps, so the buckles are hidden from view under the saddle flaps and are kept off the horse’s sides by the saddle’s sweat flap.
Most GP saddles have 3 girth straps (some girth configurations may have 4 or even five straps). For safety, you should always use the first strap of the three (closest to the front of the saddle) this is usually attached to the saddle’s tree individually. You can then choose between the second or third strap, depending on your horse’s girth position. The third strap is the more common choice. These two straps are attached either by an individual webbing strap or both are attached to a double width piece of web. By being on different webs extra safety is built in. The extra fourth and/or fifth strap is to allow your girth to be positioned to suit various body shapes and conformation. The extra front girth strap is often called a Point Strap as it is attached to the points of the saddle. The extra back strap is also called a Balancing Strap and as the name suggests can be used to stabilise the saddle on a difficult horse.
These are much shorter, because dressage saddles usually have long girth straps, which hang way below the flaps of the saddle. This is to allow less bulk under your leg and give ultimate close feel. Because the girth buckles are directly against the horse’s sides, there are protective flaps underneath the buckles on the girth for comfort. Though called Dressage girths, they can be used with any saddle with longer style girth straps. Indeed many styles of modern Event and Jumping saddles have long straps and need short girths to suit.
Styles of girth
There are many different styles of girths. Some are shaped ergonomically, to give more room at the horse’s elbows. Many styles have elastic at one or both ends, to give a little as the horse moves and breathes. You can get girths made from leather, which are very smart but do require a little maintenance, or from modern synthetic materials, designed to prevent the girth from getting too wet and rubbing. One advantage of these synthetic girths is that that they can be simply hosed off if they get muddy or even just thrown into the washing machine at home.
Some girths on the market also have unobtrusive loops attached, so that breastplates and training aids can be quickly clipped on and off.
If your horse is the sensitive type, we also stock a number of girth sleeves which can be used to prevent nasty rubs and girth galls.