There are two fundamental styles of English girths to choose from, and these are designed to accommodate the length of the billet straps on your saddle. If you have a dressage saddle, you'll likely have very long billet straps that extend beyond the bottom of the flaps.
If you have a forward seat, all-purpose, close contact or almost any other variation of an English saddle, the billet straps are much shorter and likely don't extend beyond the bottom of the flaps. This will allow the girth to reach the short billet straps on these types of saddles.
Whether you need a dressage or regular length girth for your saddle, you'll find they come in a variety of materials as well. Deciding on the material your girth is made from is a matter of preference.
Functional quality leather girths are the most expensive, and with proper care can last a very long time. You'll also find girths made of cotton or synthetic string, neoprene, webbing and felt, and other high tech materials.
This elastic tends to wear out over time (it is replaceable on good quality girths), but can be more comfortable for the horse. Some may hold heat or irritate some horse's skin, but most are comfortable and easy to clean.
Lump Images/Dario Seen Collection Mix: Subjects /Getty Images Also called 'chaffless,' these girths are shaped so that the width behind the horse's elbow is narrower.
The Atherton is a leather girth that is shaped similarly, but is all one piece, or may have a single strap to which a thicker, shaped and padded length of leather is sewn. They're also the priciest girths, simply because of the materials and construction.
Happily, none of the girths we tested posed major problems for our horses or our riders. There’s a wide range of prices, and we found you basically get what you pay for in girths.
It got high marks for durability, ease of use, and quality, even from the most girth horses. We attribute this to the soft, pliable leather and that the elastic on the ends was flexible enough to fasten the girth easily.
The Dover Pro Split-End girth scored equally well on comfort and durability with its wonderfully soft leather and nice padding. It also received high marks for durability, with the elastic ends getting positive commentary for sturdiness.
The Miller’s Crosby Chafeless Bag hide girth is extremely durable, but we weren’t sure about its initial stiff, hard feel, which diminished only slightly throughout the test. We tried washing it by hand, as the directions recommended, but we felt we never got it adequately clean.
The well-priced Courgette girth showed quality leather, craftsmanship and design. The moderately priced Whitman models were a nice balance between economy and cost, particularly the heavy leather overlay girth.
We had a 46” triple elastic split-end girth tested on a cranky pony with pleasant results. The pony did not protest during birthing, and the model held up well, even though it was used by a child rider who as often as not left the girth on the barn floor, stuffed in a tack trunk or twisted under the saddle after riding.
The downside to the extra give in the elastic ends is, of course, decreased durability. The only critic of the Dover Pro Dressage #0222 was our most girth horse, and even his objection was mild.
The model is well padded, wide in the center, with rounded ends to avoid pinching. Again, the only objectors were our most girth horses, probably due to the lack of flexibility where the girth is fastened.
Thorn hill and Whitman also offer nice combinations of durability and comfort. It may seem like a simple piece of tack, but having the right girth is extremely important when it comes to your horse’s wardrobe.
), but the wrong shape or type of girth can also result in discomfort and ‘girth’ horses. Size is probably the most critical factor when choosing a girth to suit your horse.
So logically, if you have horsed that is larger than average, you would want to go bigger than this, and vice versa. However, probably the most accurate way to work out the correct size would be to place your saddle and saddle pad on the horse, then use a measuring tape stretched from one girth strap (from the middle hole) to the corresponding one on the other side, in the place that the girth would sit.
Behavior such as pinning ears back and shuffling uncomfortably when doing up a girth may indicate that your horse is girth. Sometimes this can simply be a habit and may not actually indicate that the horse is experiencing discomfort, but in other cases it can be that your girth or saddle is incorrectly fitted/shaped.
Often, straight girths can dig into the shoulders of a horse, leading to soreness (and yes, worthiness). Anatomical girths are also useful for extravagant movers or horses with large shoulders.
We have a range of Centaur dressage and jumping girths available in anatomical shapes. For this reason, many of our girths incorporate elastic straps on the buckles, with just the right amount of ‘give’.
We recommend sheepskin girth liners for horses with sensitive skin, as they provide a soft, breathable and moisture wicking layer of protection. D rings on the sides and rings/detachable straps in the middle of the girth are a much less cumbersome way to attach breastplates and draw reins.
Studs are a great way to provide extra grip and traction to your horse (especially in slippery conditions), but they can also be a hazard to your horse… Especially if you have one that likes to ‘tuck’ their front legs! All girths are available in Black, Brown or Tobacco, meaning that you can choose your favorite color.
I've been using Pro-Choice Pro Choice SIX Dressage Girth | Dover Saddlery for several years and so far so good and no rubbing (the bottom is wearing out that's why I was looking into the new one). BTW, I LOVE Fen wick dressage pads as well as Back on Track.
Apparently the Nun Finer girths are nice, although I haven't tried them myself. I researched this one (before trying Nun Finer), but have seen quite negative opinions about it (the thin line part is VERY thin there and wearing out quite quickly).
I have a Cheese girth and its very nice and ergonomically shaped and doesn't interfere with the shoulder. I have also a Jaguar girth which is less shaped, but works well on horses with less movement. Look for something that is quite skinny in the shoulder/elbow area, doesn't have a lot of elastic, no neoprene, no cheap or fake sheepskin, and a high quality, thick leather.
If you do go for sheepskin, go genuine and make sure it is removable and washable. I splurged for a County Logic girth a few months ago and LOVE it.
Oz I'd definitely a bit girth with the Western saddle. The Thorn hill (not sure what model it is, but it's gorgeous) seems to fit him great all over except possibly an area right under the seat. We weren't able to ride him in it because he is still healing from an injury, but the seller offered to hold it and bring it back in a week or so when he's ready to be ridden again.
One of the other boarders was showing me a special wool half pad with removable inserts that she uses with her pony that has the same fit issue. She said the saddle is in great shape and the flocking under the seat might just need to be broken in better, although the seller said she's been riding in it for five years.