I think it is style without purpose. Like anything, it's who/what you want you believe. I think that horses are more comfortable with a long girth and short billets. My saddles do have long billets, but I buy the longest short girth I can find so that it fits almost like a long girth.
I'd never heard of the universal billets before. Question though: If you had the universal billets and used a longer girth, what would you do with the extra length of billets? Are there longer girths out there with keepers for the extra length?
I *hate* long billets and in my experience horses that are girth fussy always seem fussier with the long ones.
I had the exact opposite reaction with my blowfish, girth-fussy mare. She prefers the longer billets.
I think it's because it's a lot easier to settle the saddle in place and tighten it without a ton of ineffective pulling and huffing and puffing on my part. (I have an extremely bad back, so girthing with short billets is a task for me.)
I'm in the process of switching this mare over to a western saddle so my husband can ride her, and she likes that girthing process even more. Hard to say why except something about it is less irksome to her.
Horses! Just when you think you have them figured out, another one comes along to belie everything you know.
The point behind long billets is to remove the bulk of the girth from under the rider's leg, improving contact with the horse. Does make it more difficult to adjust the girth from the saddle though.
Really? I find it easier to adjust the short girth from the saddle than the long girth. Yes, I have to lean down further, but my leg stays in roughly the same position, instead of having to hook it in front of the saddle.
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).
Did anyone bother to read the link above? Below is a quote from it. I'd rather it be me that's made a little uncomfortable than my horse:
"The idea behind long billets and short girths is that the rider will be more comfortable and achieve closer contact with the horse, because if there is no girth under the saddle flaps, there won't be any "lump" of buckle and strap underneath the rider's leg. In fact, however, if you look closely at thousands or even hundreds of horses, saddles, girths, and riders (and I have), you'll find that this effect is largely mythical. If a properly-sized long girth is used on a dressage saddle with short billets, the girth buckles, the billet, and any "lump" they create will be in the area BEHIND the rider's bent knee! It's possible that the rider's leg could come into contact with the "lump" (a) if the rider's stirrups were adjusted too long and the rider had no bend at the knee, or (b) if the girth were much too long (fastened too high, where it COULD place a lump under the rider's thigh), or much too short (fastened too low, where it COULD place a lump under the rider's calf). If a long girth is the correct length and the rider is sitting correctly, there shouldn't be any "lump" - or any problem."
The longer billets sorta make the most sense, don't they? No buckle under the calf, less bulk for a more close contact feel...
From the h/j side of things, though, long billets (in conjunction with a long flap) combined with short stirrups--especially at the higher levels where the stirrups get shorter as the fences get bigger--would mean that a very small portion of your leg would be actually touching the horse. Though it seems like the long billet h/j saddles have a much shorter flap, so maybe I'm confusing billet length with flap length?
I do agree with the quote that ToN Farm took from the link....I've never noticed or felt the buckle under my leg from a long girth. You'd have to be out of position or riding with extremely long stirrups (and/or a very forward leg) for interference.
They do make both long and short billet/flap saddles for dressage. I prefer the long as my boots catch on the short flap with the longer leg used for dressage - not a problem for cross country or jumping.
Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
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