When I first started working with horses I remember my girlfriend, now wife, ask me “Can you hand me that girth?” I remember thinking that was a very weird name for a strap.
A girth also called a cinch is a piece of equipment that keeps the saddle in place on horses and other animals. It is passed under the chest of the animal, usually attached to the saddle on both sides by leather straps
A girth is one of the most important pieces of equipment on your saddle. Without a girth, our saddles would fall off before we could even mount up. Without a girth, we would end up on the ground faster than you can say “whoa!” Given this, I wanted to do some research and see what all I should know about them, read on to find out what I learned.
When Should I Use a Girth?
Any time that we are going to be using a saddle we are going to need to at least use a girth. Depending on if your using a western saddle or an English style saddle the girth has different names. The name girth originates from the English saddlery; however, on western saddles, the girth is also called a cinch.
When riding normally, it is sufficient to use the girth only. However, when the horse keeps changing directions such as, when jumping, then a girth might not sufficiently keep your saddle in place. In these cases, you might need to add additional strapping to keep your saddle in place.
When trail riding, especially on steep terrain your saddle needs a little extra help to stop from sliding forward onto your horse’s wither. in order to do this, someone came up with the back cinch. This is a secondary cinch, that goes around the belly area of your horse attached to the back of your saddle.
English riders sometimes use something called an over girth. The idea is to provide a safety measure when riding cross country. In case the girth breaks, the over girth will continue to hold the saddle in place.
If you are going to be jumping, you will need to need further protection to prevent your saddle from moving forwards and backwards. In order to do this, you will need both a crupper and a breast collar.
The breast collar goes around the front of the horse and between the front legs. This not only helps prevent the saddle from going backwards but also provides a little bit of additional side to side hold.
A crupper, like the back cinch, helps to prevent your saddle from traveling forward. It is a leather strap that connects the back of the saddle to the horse’s tail.
How to select the right girth for your horse?
Girths are made from different materials and are of different lengths, widths, and styles. Some are designed for specific purposes such as dressage and jumping. To ensure you remain on your horse, you should select one that fits well and keeps your saddle securely in place while providing comfort for your horse.
Since girths are of different sizes, colors, shapes, and styles, each has its own benefits to a horse. The ideal type of girth for your horse depends on many factors, such as your horse’s movements and allergy to textiles.
Type of saddle
The type of saddle greatly influences the type of girth you’ll buy. In on an english saddle, for instance, mono-flap seats have long girth straps and hence require a short girth. On the other hand, saddles with two flaps have short girth straps and thus require long girths.
Western saddles can also have multiple girth straps, one for the main cinch and one for the back cinch. In most cases, however, just one main cinch is going to be used. Both are going to be almost identical differing in only length.
Material: Leather or Synthetic
When it comes to girths, you have to choose between leather and synthetic materials. Whatever material you need, you should regularly clean it since a dirty material could rub your horse hard and make it sore. Leather girths also require a conditioner to keep them soft and supple.
Synthetic girths, on the other hand, need only a quick wipe using warm water to keep them clean, and ready for use. In more severe cases a pressure washer can be used to remove dirt and grime from riding
Also, in western saddles they some chose to use a rope-like girth. This isn’t just a single strand of rope but more of a hammock-like construction to spread out the pressure on the horse.
Place the saddle, saddlecloth, and other items you usually place under the saddle. Get a piece of string and measure from the middle hole of a girth strap, then pass the string under your horse, to the hole on the other side that corresponds to the initial one. Now, check the length of the string as this is the ideal girth size you’ll need.
With Elastic or without elastic?
You should pick a girth with elastic in the middle or both ends or one with no elastic to ensure there is equal pull across the grit’s length. You’ll enjoy more stability when you use one without elasticity, but some horses prefer the extendibility that elastic girths offer.
How to make your girth last.
Since the girth is an important addition, always ensure you monitor and maintain it as required. Buy high-quality leather girths as they’re quite durable. Synthetic girths, on the other hand, wear out faster, and they require regular replacement.
By keeping your girth clean and properly put away you will extend the life of your girth. You should be careful when cleaning synthetic girths. While they are not fragile by any means things like pressure washers or stiff brushes can rip or tear the fabric if you’re not careful.
Pimp your Girth! – Girth Accessories
There is a myriad of girth accessories that are available to solve any challenge that may arise from their use. they include:
1. Girth Extender- A girth extender is simply a temporary measure that is commonly used in extending the length of a girth to fit a horse. This happens with too short girths, and the extenders increase their length. But you should get a more extended girth as the extender will increase the bulk of the overall girth.
2. Girth Buckle Guard – This refers to a piece of leather that contains holes for sliding the billets through. A buckle guard offers protection to the underside of the saddle flip against wear and friction that the girth buckles produce.
3. Girth Rings/ Girth Aids- This refers to leather accessories that you can add to a girth to use with training devices and reins
Types of Girth Covers
Just like girth accessories, girth covers are made to solve some problems. They offer cushion, which relieves the pressure points, which helps to absorb sweat and deal with sensitivity issues for horses that have delicate skins. If you intend to use girth covers, then keep them clean so that they’ll be of maximum benefit to the horse. Also, ensure they fit snugly so that they don’t bunch up or roll.
1. Girth Socks – This type of socks slide over girths like socks and are manufactured from terry cloth or knitted fabric. They are reasonably priced and supports machine-washing.
2. Genuine Fleece Girth Cover- This type of cover will help you keep away moisture and offer relief to the pressure points. Some also have hook and loop closures that’ll enable you to adjust the cover’s width. Make sure you clean it with a brush after use and wash with only the recommended products.
3. Synthetic Fleece Girth cover- Synthetic fleece girth cover is similar to genuine fleece in function as it offers pressure points relief and a softer surface. It is the best alternative of genuine fleece and supports machine washing.
The girth is one of the most critical components for riding on horses and other animals. They ensure you are comfortable at your horseback, and they come in a variety of sizes, styles, and designs to offer you variety in picking your ideal girth. What’s more, if you follow our guide, you’ll get the right circumference for your horse that’ll suit your it well and give you maximum comfort. Also, from our article, you have learned of the basic girth accessories in the market.