Why do we use short girths?I am always second guessing myself.Is my mare happy with her girth?Is it in the way of her elbow? I have a lot of different girths from 26-30". Nothing is quite right and the princess doesn't tolerate less than perfection.(or so i think).I have a logic,a nunn finer ,a Ronja,several wintecs and a few others.Would i be better off with a longer girth that wouldn't be in the way? I just don't know.........
As for the "why" of short girths and long billets for dressage saddles, you should first realize that that this is NOT some sort of correct or proper or international standard. It's a STYLE, that's all - like flash nosebands and crank nosebands and the bit-of-the-month. 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.
And now, if you're wondering why I spent so much time discussing this, it's because the HORSE is much more comfortable with a long girth! If your saddle can be used with either a long or a short girth, it's worth the trouble it takes to promote your horse's comfort. The long billets/short girth fashion - or fad - is NOT for the horse's sake, nor, as I've just explained, is it really to the rider's advantage. So if you have universal billets, feel free to use the upper holes with your long girth. If you have a choice (as you generally do when you order a new saddle), you may want to order a saddle with short billets. Don't let anyone tell you that this is somehow "incorrect for dressage", because that simply isn't true. With the exception of a very few specialty saddles that are made ONLY with long billets, good-quality dressage saddles can generally be ordered with either short or long billets - the choice is up to the purchaser.
And now, if you're wondering why I spent so much time discussing this, it's because the HORSE is much more comfortable with a long girth!
Not to hijack your question, Myrna, but CD your clipping made me wonder why the author feels that long girths are more comfortable for the horse. Do you know? She doesn't offer any evidence that that is the case, only states it. I'm not attacking, just genuinely curious about this debate.
I have a 32" County Logic girth if you want it...... I don't like the short girths much.. and I ride mostly Jumpers so I ride in a long girth and never feel the girth under my leg...... but I did question why a long girth is more comfortable for the horse too?
Live in the sunshine.
Swim in the sea.
Drink the wild air.
Honestly I ride in both a short and long billet dressage saddle and I can't tell the difference. (Neither can my horse!). If you want to try a long girth just go for it. Dressage Today had a pic of Ingrid Klimke in a short billet/long girth saddle at an international competition. Also, I believe Catherine Haddad just won Dressage at Devon freestyle with a short billet saddle. They are out there, just not the status quo!
It must depend on the make of the saddle and girth. I swear I cannot tell the difference between riding in my Passier short billet/long girth and my friend's Isabell with a short girth. I feel no lumps or bumps at all in the Passier under my thigh, and my horse is uber responsive in both saddles. Maybe I'm just weird, lol.
I think both can be perfectly fine (though I like my short girth).
It is easier for a long girth to be a little too long and get into your thigh/knee area (buckles), but if they are properly adjusted, I don't think there's a lot of difference.
I've heard some say they feel long girths provide more stability, so perhaps that's where the comfort for the horse argument comes from.
I have two saddles that use a short girth and my jumping saddle uses a long girth.
The short girth saddles will tend to roll side to side.
The long girth will slip back.
The saddles are custom to the horses so I know saddle fitting is not an issue - and the side to side or slip back is extremely slight - but it's what I notice in the difference of the two sizes of girthts.
Live in the sunshine.
Swim in the sea.
Drink the wild air.
This saddle has a full tree, wool-flocked panels and dressage (show) stirrup bars. All BALANCE Dressage Saddles come with short girth straps as standard. This is because the research BALANCE has done shows that, on the whole, horses are more comfortable in long girths and short straps. The saddles are not deep seated, in order to make sure that the saddle itself does not position or fix the rider. For the same reason, they have moderate, but adjustable/removable, knee blocks.
but I've also read it several times elsewhere.
I would suspect its a number of factors, the extra stability, having the tension spread over a wider, possibly padded, girth rather than two thin billets, having the buckle area fall in a less sensitive spot, and having the buckles protected further from the horse's side by the sweat flap which is generally much thicker stiffer leather than would be found on the billet guard on a short girth.
I also notice I can ride a roly poly round one with a looser girth on a short billeted saddle, long billeted I have to do it up tighter.
I do think short girths are vastly easier though easier to care for, store, reasonably fit a wider array of horses, much easier to do up from the ground or the saddle (but my horses are small and don't have terribly deep heartgirths, its no more challenging than reaching down to touch my toes)
When you girth up on your horse with long billets the girth, when tight, should be within the last two to three holes of the billets. When thermography testing was done on saddle, one of the highest points of heat and friction was found where the billets lie against the edge of the horse. The less distance between the bottom of the flap and the top of the girth, the less irritation that results.
Last edited by buck22; Jan. 6, 2011 at 01:31 PM.
“I am sorry negativity, I have no time for you. I have far too many positive things to do.”