Anatomical Girths Review

James Smith
• Wednesday, 12 May, 2021
• 8 min read

Largely because I didn’t see it as an overly influential piece of tack (I mean seriously, as long as my saddle stayed on I was pretty happy with it). That changed this past winter when I just couldn’t shake the feeling that The Beast let was starting out tight in the shoulders.

girth schumacher dressage otto contoured os anatomical halt salute
(Source: morganesgabriel.wordpress.com)


In the midst of my investigation I was given the opportunity to review the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth for Horse Nation. I had a super experience with it which you can read about HERE (seriously, check it out since it gives a bit more detail than this review) .

Nevertheless, I still went ahead and tried a variety of anatomical girths just to see what the differences were and which The Beast let liked best (SPOILER: He liked them all pretty well). The bulge should point towards the front of the horse allowing the saddle to sit further back from the withers.

An anatomical girth therefore is supposed to keep the saddle from being pulled forward and down onto the horse’s shoulders while also allowing maximum room for the horse’s shoulder and elbow. That shape will not help keep the saddle from being pulled forwards nor does it allow for maximum shoulder freedom.

I actually tried these girths on stock horses, Frisians, a picky Swedish mare, an Arabian/HQ/TB cross, and The Paint let. Even the most average of movers among them moved better and was more forward in an anatomical girth.

Photo © National Saddle Center. From what I could tell the biggest difference between the girths was the amount of offset (for some awesome photos of certain brands side by side, check out this link). The Custom Saddlery girth had the most, then the Fairfax, then the others were all fairly similar.

(Source: www.horze.eu)

I absolutely loved the quality of the Fairfax girth but the difficulty actually getting one (I borrowed a friend’s to try) and the extreme price made it less desirable. But given that it is made to order it too takes a bit of time to receive.

Additionally, it is extremely padded/thick which is great for a larger horse but might overwhelm a more narrow one. The Prestige girth is really right on par with the County Logic girth as far as I can tell (perhaps a hint more padding) so I went with the County simply because I found a nearly-new used one for a great price.

You can find all the girths mentioned at the hyperlinks above but if there’s one brand you’re particularly interested in I would recommend that you go ahead and do some comparison shopping. Often times there are good deals on girths that are on closeout or eBay.

As always, if you have any questions regarding my experiences with these products please feel free to drop me a line and I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. I plan to eventually review FITS breeches and Custom Saddlery (among other things).

Due to size variances within each breed WeatherBeeta strongly recommends that every dog is measured before a coat is purchased. Step 1: Place a measuring tape at the base of the neck and measure along the spine and stop at the base of the tail.

girth dressage anatomic prestige
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Step 2: The measurement in centimeters corresponds to the dog coat size, which are sized in 5 cm increments. I got it for a horse that looked like she was getting a bit 'stuck' in her movement due to that sort of rubbing type pressure from they can get from a girth.

It did make a difference but my husbands been riding her in my sheepskin lined girth this year because at the start of the season he couldn't find his own one (buried under a mountain of stuff in the mechanical) and to be honest I think she's going just as well in the sheepskin, maybe even better. I've ridden in HD saddles a few times, nice ride it was.

Girth was a leather shaped one and then a waffle weave something or other...elastic ends. Neither of those bothered the horse ridden, and he is skin sensitive. He was ridden in a neoprene girth another time not by me and got a sore under it near the elbow...

So, my own horses western or English tack don't like synthetic neoprene used anyplace on them....they act “funny” and get a ****y attitude is all I can describe it as. So with that, leather or soft felt or material synthetic I would probably go with but if neoprene, no.

These have been big-shouldered animals with a forward girth groove where a standard girth has pulled the saddle forward of its ideal position. Usually, in this situation, the solution is simply to angle a standard girth slightly forward, and I've found this rarely causes any problems. Having said all that, I only see these horses for a short time, and, if ridden, for a few minutes.

leather girth anatomical girths dressage treeless
(Source: www.easytreksaddles.co.uk)

Full grain English leather, triple crossover elastic at both ends. The elastic was tough enough to prevent any over-tightening, and held the saddle firmly in place.

Soft, padded leather, shaped for a narrow girth groove. “I liked the narrow style of this girth, which suited my mare and allowed her to move more freely through the shoulder.

Elasticated with AIR cushion, stainless steel roller buckles and central D-ring. Because it’s quite a thick pad it made the girth come up a bit small, so I’d recommend a size up.

Soft leather and shock-absorbing gel pad with airflow to reduce sweat build up. I was concerned that the gel pad would attract hairs and dirt, but it was surprisingly easy to keep clean and not as sweaty as I expected, either.

I didn’t like the plastic feel of the PVC material, but it wasn’t noticeable when in use.” Hairs tended to get stuck in the stitching, but it cleaned up well and fairly easily.

girth saddle total difference nation eventingnation long
(Source: eventingnation.com)

“I liked the design of narrower sides and wider over the sternum, which fitted my large hunter-type well. The rounded edges stopped any rubbing and the leather was soft with neat stitching.

The verdict: Slim, contoured design, would benefit from elastic at both ends.” “The slim, contoured style of this girth suited my mare and allowed her good freedom of movement.

The leather isn’t as soft as other, more expensive alternatives, but it fitted well and was great for everyday use. It wasn’t easy to keep clean, and it needed a lot of washing, but absorbed sweat very well, so I was surprised to find that it actually kept my horse cooler despite the thick lining.

The verdict: “Soft and easy to fit, but difficult to keep clean.” The fit was a bit tighter than normal because of the added padding, but the spring-loaded buckles made it easy to adjust.

It was tricky to keep clean, as the hairs stuck to it, and it was quite hot, but no more than some other synthetic girths.” The ends tended to bunch up a bit underneath the elasticated straps, although this didn’t cause any rubs or problems.

girth anatomical dressage horsedream christ
(Source: www.ridingwarehouse.com)

“I liked the soft, contoured design and the elastic ends kept the pressure even. It was easy to clean, just requiring a rinse, so was great for muddy days.

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1 erroluys.com - https://erroluys.com/greatdepression.html
2 www.pbs.org - https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/tcrr/