It is important to make sure your horse’s girth fits well to avoid any discomfort. Whether you ride English or western, it is important to have a proper fitting girth (or cinch).
Fairfax has done a lot of research to prove how proper girth design/fit can increase a horse’s performance and reduce pressure by up to 82%, increase range of movement by 33%, and eliminate gait asymmetry. This article showcases 8 alternatives that prioritize comfort, but at a lower cost.
So, no matter your budget, you’ll be able to keep your horse happy and healthy. Girths come in a variety of different materials including leather, neoprene, wool, vinyl, synthetic, string (mohair), and webbing.
Many girths have elastic on both ends, making for easier tightening. For hunter/jumpers, it is common to use girths with built in belly guards that protect the horse’s chest from their front hooves over fences.
In dressage, short, black leather girths are most common. In saddle seat, white patent leather or vinyl girths are often used in showing.
For western disciplines, black neoprene and mohair cinches are commonly used for competing. Neoprene and wool girths are generally used when training or for pleasure riding.
The waffle-patterned neoprene offers four-way stretch that provides comfort and support for your horse. It is easy to maintain and won’t absorb sweat, so it’s ideal for everyday riding and showing.
Best Jumping Girth (With Stud Guard) The Horse Belly Guard girth is padded to keep your horse protected from studded shoes while jumping. This stud guard girth is leather and has elastic at both ends.
It includes a D ring and buckles so you can attach your breast collar or martingale. It can show signs of wear over time, so proactively clean it after each ride if possible.
Best Jumping Girth (Without Stud Guard) The HDR Contoured Leather Girth is designed to allow your horse to have free movement in the shoulder and elbow. It has elastic on both ends and includes roller buckles, making it simple to tighten.
The supple leather makes it comfortable and stylish for the show ring. It is made from high quality leather with padded calf skin lining that is easy to clean and keeps sweat away.
It is nylon with felt lining to provide ultimate comfort for your horse. Its effective design is easy to use while allowing your horse to preform at its peak.
Best Roper Western Cinch The Mustang Pro-Roller Mohair Blend Roper Cinch features 27 strands, sewn leather center, and pro roller buckles. This hand strung cinch is designed to provide comfort and allow your horse to move freely.
This cinch is made from 27 all-natural mohair fibers that are both soft and strong, providing lasting comfort for your horse. This cinch allows your horse to stay dry from sweat and free from chaffing.
Best Contoured Western Cinch (Shoulder Relief) The Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Cinch provides the comfort your horse needs while being high quality. Its contoured design provides shoulder and elbow relief, while allowing your saddle to fit better.
This cinch is made from top grade leather and comes with a removable neoprene lining (also available in fleece for an additional cost). It is a popular choice for gained horses, as it allows them to move freely.
It provides support and comfort while letting your horse move freely. Girth sizes vary based how big your horse is and on what type of saddle you are using.
Contoured girths provide a humane and comfortable ride for your horse. The contoured design provides shoulder and elbow relief so movement isn’t restricted.
The girth is the piece of long, skinny tack that holds the saddle in place. Mohair cinches are a great choice for horses that are girth and sensitive.
Mohair is soft and provides comfort and support for sensitive horses. No matter what discipline you ride, a proper fitting girth is vital for your horse’s comfort and performance.
The girth will always find its position at the narrowest point of the rib cage behind your horse’s elbow, and the unfortunate result is that the saddle either gets driven forward into your horse’s shoulders, or driven clear on top of his shoulders. The horse’s shoulder blade (scapula) consists of both bone and cartilage.
At worst, a saddle that constantly drives into your horse’s shoulders first will produce a buildup of scar tissue on his scapula. If the problem persists over the long-term, the three points of the saddle will begin to actually chip away the bone and cartilage.
Horses with this kind of irreversible damage often have telltale “holes”, particularly on the left shoulder blade. This is especially problematic when your mare is in season, since this excess pressure on her ovaries may cause her to show extreme discomfort or resistance when being saddled and ridden.
Frequently, the problem is that either the width or angle of your saddle tree, or both, are not the correct size for your horse. One of the highest points of heat and friction occurs where the billets lie against the edge of the horse.
Less distance between the bottom of the flap and the top of the girth means less irritation. This allows the horse to move the front leg without being inhibited by the girth itself.
Ideally, it should have a wider surface area along the sternum of the horse, which is the strongest point of contact. These “diamond” girths are anatomically accommodating, narrower at the ends where they sit under the elbow area, and widening to between 4” to 8” inches at the sternum to evenly displace the pressure.
The more a girth is able to distribute weight and pressure over a larger surface area, the more comfortable the horse will be. This girth is too short for this horse because the buckles are sitting at the edge of the pectoralis muscle.
This means we have a solid leather band around the horse’s rib cage and around his lungs. If the elastic is too weak or too long, the girth loses stability and stretches, allowing the saddle to move around on the horse’s back.
This girth is too short for the horse; you can see that the buckle will irritate him at the leg and elbow during movement. A huge advantage is that the girth ’s buckles don’t bother the rider at his thighs and allow the saddle to be fastened more securely.
The buckles should never cause pressure points to the horse or rider, or interfere with riding and moving freely without pain. Cheese is the world-leading manufacturer of saddles designed for women, specializing in the unique anatomical requirements of female riders.
Saddle fit 4 Life educational programs and certification courses are held throughout the world. His first book “Suffering in Silence: The Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses”, is available from HorseBooksetc.
Written by Katherine Blockader An English girth comes in many shapes, materials, and lengths. If you're standing in front of a large display, you can easily be left scratching your head trying to pick the one that is right for you and your horse.
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.
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.
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.