How to determine what size girth to buy? Also, Favorite girth/ bridle?
I did try to search the forum for this but came back with little luck.
I am new to the dressage world and about to invest in my first dressage saddle and I am totally at a loss for how to determine what size girth my horse would need.
I understand that it is probably saddle specific given billet lengths but have no clue how I would measure or decide what size is best.
My next question would be what dressage girths and bridles are your favorites? With my jump saddle I use either a neoprene girth (Soft touch and some off brand professional choice type) or a fleece girth (smartpak or lettia).
Ideally I would stay under $75 for the girth but would spend more for the right girth if it would last and under $200 for a bridle if possible. Are rubber reins accepted for competition in dressage? Right now I use the Nunn Finer Soft Grip Rubber reins and would love to be able to use them still... (but in black).
Thanks in advance for reading this and any help or advice. I am going to be lost for a while I think!
Last edited by hequestrian; Jan. 28, 2013 at 04:50 PM.
Reason: added link
I find that short girths really do depend on the saddle. I had a Custom Saddlery dressage saddle and with it my gelding wore a 26" girth. We recently got a new Black Country and now he wears a 32" girth! Fortunately, my favorite girth is a relatively inexpensive neoprene one - the Classic Equine Soft Touch girth - so I was able to pick up the correct size quickly and cheaply!
A friend of mine has a lovely Albion leather girth. Its so soft and padded. If I were to get a more expensive, leather girth, I would probably look for one of those.
My snaffle bridle is a Kieffer and has held up well with a LOT of use. My horse is also now schooling in the double, which is a Red Barn bridle. It hasn't seen much use yet, but is a nice bridle, as well. Yes, rubber reins are accepted. For several years, I used the Eventa rubber reins on my snaffle bridle.
I love my Nunn Finer Brentina bridle. Very high quality and it has held up well for years. Adams Horse Supply has it for $170.95. I think it looks like a $300+ bridle and the horse size fits my TB great. I am also a fan of Nunn Finer's rubber reins.
Sorry, no help on the girth since I sold my dressage saddle and my dressage girth just sits in storage.
If you can borrow some girths from friends, that will help with the sizing question, or you can just guess and then return it if need be.
After spending a well matured fortune on girths over the years I swear by the Wintec Elastic neoprene girths. SmartPak has them for around $45. I like them better than any of the very expensive leather girths I've bought and subsequently sold. They never rub the horses, last forever and are easy to clean.
It's great that I like these inexpensive girths because I swing the other way in bridles and love the Passier bridles.
I have a saddle with what I consider average length billets and use a 26" Professionals Choice smx girth. Not too expensive, machine washable, it doesn't move or rub and has fit a variety of narrow to medium bodied horses (I don't ride any biggies). When you get your saddle put it on the horse and measure from a few inches under one saddle flap to a few inches under the other. Or at least that's how I sized my girth . . .
I had a nice leather girth for over a dozen years which started to tear. I just replaced it w/a Professional's Choice SMX dressage girth of the same size. It fits my boy very well and must be comfortable: he's super girthy––but he didn't even swish his tail when I did up his saddle.
Not sure how I ever determined the size. He goes in a 24" dressage girth and a 50" SMX long girth on the AP saddle.
I have yet to find a "favourite" bridle. We're currently using a Bobby's Tack plain raised and a Vespucci Figure 8. They're nice bridles, but I'm not jumping up and down over them.
My TB has a pretty fine head and both bridles are cob sized. (The Vespuccis run super large.)
Size for a short girth is "usually" 20" less than a long girth (if you previously rode hunt seat) but it doesn't always ring true. My gelding took a 26" with the Niedersuss saddle but now takes a 24" with a Kieffer.
I use fleece lined girths and I love my Passier bridle although I do recommend the Red Barn ones as well.
I love the wintec girths for dressage girths. Like another poster said, they are easy to clean, cheap, and last forever. I have a 26" now for my horse that fits into a 46" girth, but I have used that same girth on a horse that fit into a 54" and a 52" but my billets are long on my Passier and my Spirig so maybe that is why.
If you are looking for leather, I like the Cadence girth from Dover. I have a super thin skinned TB and it is the only leather girth that did not rub. The Nunn Finer Piaffe rubbed him to bits even though it was super padded.
For bridles, I love the Passier bridles. The thick noseband and the details make them to die for. I have two and you could not pry them out of my dead hands. I also like the Horze bridles. I bought one for 1/2 off that was $200 and it is quite nice. I would purchase one again. I have a Bartville bridle that I am using now on my main guy. It is their padded crown dressage bridle with a crank noseband and flash. I like it better than my Jerry's bridle. Looks nice on my boy. I got it for $125 and the leather is like butter.
I use rubber reins for straight dressage and eventing dressage. I hate the soft grips like you have, but a lot of people like them. I like a firmer rein though.
I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.
Usually 20 inches shorter than a standard girth but it really depends on the saddle and billet length. My mare is at the top hole or close to it on a 22 inch girth and takes a 44 or so long girth, so YMMV obviously.
I also like the professionals choice girths but switched to a Jeffries Symbian about a year ago. It is thin textured neoprene, has a bit of a curve, which is helpful for horses without a lot of definition between barrel and shoulder, and has the balanced buckles (I can't remember the proper term for this) and no elastic. It's very easy to clean (wipe with a sponge) and holding up extremely well. Sizes smaller than 24 inches are no longer being made but some tack stores will carry them.
"You have to have experiences to gain experience."
Sizes can vary SO much for what you need as far as girths--with the particular saddle. My previous saddle and my current saddle have such a disparity in billet length, I had to get a 10" longer girth! Went from a 22" to a 32". WOW.
I would wait until you got in the saddle, then take a tape measure from where you approximately want your girth buckles to end up when tightened on the billets, then have someone hold it, then take it down and around where the girth would lie, to the other side same billet holes and measure. They I'd take out at least 2" for tightness. That's just what I would do, if you don't have a repertoire of various girth sizes to try out like I do!
I have the Lettia fleece one right now. I just got it and so far I really like it. I like that the fleece extends up beyond where the buckles are. The buckles on my prior girth, a wintec, were catching on my mare's extremely fluffy armpit/belly hair and yanking it out. I do miss the clean-ability of the wintec.
I would also reccommend waiting to buy a girth after you purchase a saddle. My mare went from a 32" girth used with a wintec to a 26" girth used with a custom. Part of that was her weight loss, but not all of it.
I don't know about bridles. Right now I have the cheapest one I could find from Dover. It's actually holding up really well. My mare is still growing, especially her head, so I'm waiting to buy a nicer bridle. I learned my lesson after she outgrew her fancy custom browband in just one month. Sigh.
Thank you all so much for your responses! I really really appreciate you all taking the time to help me out!
If this helps at all I am looking at a County Perfection (don't know if County billets run long or short) and my horse goes in a 54" girth with our County Sensation jump saddle.
I think that I would probably try to guess a bit and grab one from SmartPak because they are so awesome about returns! But I will ask around at the barn. Unfortunately most of the horses in my barn are quite a bit smaller than Houston so it would be hard for me to try other peoples girths anyways.
I am thinking about looking into the Bartville bridles but I would need to look at their catalogue or something.
This is the bridle I bought. I have no issues with it. I'm sure there are nicer bridles but I like it and didn't pay a ton for it. I also got it when it was on sale so I paid $100 for it. I just use the reins that came with it. I will probably buy something different eventually. The bridle has fit a TB with a very fine head to a decently sized Oldenburg. The Oldenburg hasn't come close to maxing it out but the TB was on almost the shortest hole on every piece and we had to add two holes to the flash (he wore a 4 3/4" bit, so a small mouth).
I use a basic neoprene Wintec girth but I'm in the market for something better. The one I have is very short, possibly a 20". On previous school horses it was more than enough. On a 16.1h WB? Not so much, even with long billets. I can only get it up 5 holes total between both sides. So I really want to buy a new one but I'd like to improve on it a little besides just getting a longer one. Some of them are just so pricey! The lease horse I've been riding has the Nunn Finer Piaffe girth which I really like, especially the curves on the front side. But it sounds like that doesn't work for all horses. I'd rather order through SmartPak and return it if it's too short or rubs. I doubt I'd have as much luck returning a Nunn Finer girth and I'd be out a heck of a lot more money too.