Choosing a girth for your horse may not be as easy as it sounds, especially for the first horse owner.
Many things influence your choice, including your riding discipline, the type of saddle you have, how you are going to care for your girth, your tack colour and of course, your budget. This may sound confusing, but don’t worry, below is some considerations for you to think about when choosing your girth.
When choosing a girth think of the type of saddle you will be fitting it to. This will determine what style of girth you are wanting. Many riding disciplines have saddles designed specifically for the purpose.
For this type of riding you will be in whichever saddle you are most comfortable with so check with length girth points you have. You will often also want a girth that is easy to look after and can take being wet and muddy for hours when riding and then hosed down and left to dry.
If you are wanting a girth for show jumping or eventing, you will most likely have a jump saddle. Jump saddles normally have short girth points so you will want a longer girth. You may even need a stud girth if you want to protect your horses’ belly from the studs on their hooves when jumping.
If Dressage is your discipline you will most likely need a short girth. This is because most dressage saddles have long girth points
If you show you will need to look at your girth points to determine if you need a short or long girth. A show saddle designed for turnout classes will have short girth points. If you have a saddle which can be used for dressage or showing you will most likely have long girth points so will need a short girth.
Choosing a girth will also be determined by how you intend to care for your it. Girths are made from many different materials. There are a few different options and they all come in long and short lengths.
Leather girths are the most traditional and the most expensive. They can be easily cared for with leather care products. Ideally, the sweat, dirt and mud should be cleaned of them after every ride using these leather products.
Synthetic girths are the most popular. They are economical and easily hosed of after riding
String girths have lost popularity in recent years to synthetic girths in most disciplines. These are good for horses with sensitive skin as they breathe and they can alleviate pressure points as the strings can move independently. They are made from cotton, wool or nylon. They are the easiest to put in the washing machine, hose easily and dry very quickly.
Neoprene girths have become very popular due to them being so easy to clean with soap and water. The hair rinses of them easier than synthetic girths.
These can take the most care. If they are on a leather girth then you should choose one that you can detach and buy more sheepskin liners for. This is because your leather girth will last much longer then the sheepskin and you can’t stick the leather girth in the washing machine. If your sheepskin is attached to a synthetic girth it does not have to be detachable as you can put the lot in the machine. Sheepskin lined girths are very good with horses that have sensitive skin
Girths for all disciplines with both long and short points can come in shapes other then the standard.
These girths are often shaped to fit your horse and relieve pressure. They can help with “girthy” horses as they do not pinch behind the elbow like straight girths do and they distribute the pressure over a wider area. They can also help to allow for more front leg freedom in large moving horses.
These girths are used to protect the horse’s belly while jumping if you have studs in their front shoes
These girths have D rings in the position between the horse’s legs. These are chosen if you are going to ride with a training aid such as draw reins, breastplates and martingales and need to attach them to the girth.
When you do up a well fitted girth you should be able to fit a hand between the girth and the horse. If you do it up to tightly you can impact the athletic ability and breathing of your horse. It should be done up about 4 inches behind the shoulder. The girth should do up in the middle hole on the girth points – or as close to this as possible. Girths are normally measured from buckle to buckle.