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Can We Talk About Expensive Girths?

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    Can We Talk About Expensive Girths?

    Searched the topic and the last post was 2016 and I'm hoping to get some more current feedback. My horse's shape has changed from being back in regular work and he needs a smaller girth because the buckles are almost under the saddle flap. Current girth is a 26" Professionals Choice. Between his winter dust allergies, getting into more advanced work requiring him to lift his chest, and the saddle slipping all over if the girth isn't pretty tight; I think we need something that will distribute the pressure more evenly and allow chest expansion.

    Sooooo, I looked at the TSF StretchTec Shoulder Relief girth online and then in the store. The problem? Mostly 5 star reviews punctuated with enough reports of nasty girth galls on their horse's elbows to give me pause. I mentioned the love it or hate it online reviews to the sales person in the store. They stated that they use the girth on their own horses and haven't received any negative customer feedback and were inclined to attribute any issues to user error. They're also trying to sell me a $195 girth so I'm taking their input with a grain of salt.

    My trainer mentioned the Fairfax. I don't know of a dealer locally so I have only seen it on their website. I'm no expert on equine biomechanics but I think I understand where people might be having issues with the TSF: 1) Unlike the Fairfax, the TSF doesn't come in a Narrow. The contoured middle might be too wide for some horses and rub their elbows. 2) The liner on the TSF is designed as a separate piece so you can swap it out. I was able to move the liner back and forth. slightly. I could see where the liner might slip back on some horses, causing the thin edge of the girth itself to come into contact with the horse's elbows.

    I forgot my tape measure today and didn't get to measure the horse but I suspect he would take a narrow in the Fairfax. I'm leaning towards the Fairfax based on my first theory about the TSF catching narrow horses in the elbows. I'm ok with the money for the Fairfax because it would be easy to resell locally if needed. Seeing as I'm just an AA hoping to earn my USDF bronze in 2020 and not Charlotte Dujardin, I wonder if I'm way overshooting my pay grade with the Fairfax!

    Anyone use either the Fairfax or the TSF that would be willing to give me their feedback? Is there another girth that people love that I ought to be looking at? I'm open to suggestions. Thanks!

    I have also been researching girths lately. I do not have one, but there is a synthetic version of the Fairfax that is slightly cheaper that I have been eyeing. It is called the Prolite. My saddle fitter hates the TSF girth, but I can’t remember what her specific argument against it is. You might also look at the County Logic girth.


      I have been eyeing the Fairfax but keep gagging on the price tag. I am not positive that the pro lite girth is identical to the Fairfax except for not being leather. On the Fairfax description there is a comment about a "lifted" edge that allows the muscle to slide under instead of hitting the tight edge of the girth. That statement is absent in the prolite description.

      My DD has the TSF Stretch Tec with sheepskin and she uses it on our extremely sensitive Arabian mare who gets girth galls from almost everything, and who also needs her girth very tight because she is round and has a very forward girth groove. She has not had any issues with this girth, and the saddle is more secure. If I don't get the Fairfax/prolite option, this is the one I will get for my new boy.


        I have a tack store near me that allows you to try saddles and girths. I worked with their saddle fitter to find a girth. My horse is a 16.1 hh Westfalen who has a sprung ribcage and narrower shoulders (esp as a 4 year old) and we found the 28" Narrow Fairfax made a large difference in saddle fit. She believed the narrow fit more horses of his size and under than the regular. It is pricey, but maybe 5 years later, I'm happy I invested in it. My horse is quite a "prince and the pea" type, and while it does not have elastic in the girth, he is happy with it. The saddle stays better in place than inching up on his shoulders (he moves more uphill now but I won't go back to a regular girth). I haven't seen any girth galls or rubs in 5-6 years.

        My previous Trak mare did great in a cheap wintec synthetic girth. That girth didn't work for my current horse at all. If only...
        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


          I use an original TSF girth on my little thoroughbred (on the recommendation of a saddle fitter), he is pretty thin-skinned and we haven't had any problems. I've used it both with and without a fleece cover. I've had it a few years and am happy with how it's holding up.


            Original Poster

            Originally posted by arabiansrock View Post
            I have been eyeing the Fairfax but keep gagging on the price tag. I am not positive that the pro lite girth is identical to the Fairfax except for not being leather. On the Fairfax description there is a comment about a "lifted" edge that allows the muscle to slide under instead of hitting the tight edge of the girth. That statement is absent in the prolite description.

            My DD has the TSF Stretch Tec with sheepskin and she uses it on our extremely sensitive Arabian mare who gets girth galls from almost everything, and who also needs her girth very tight because she is round and has a very forward girth groove. She has not had any issues with this girth, and the saddle is more secure. If I don't get the Fairfax/prolite option, this is the one I will get for my new boy.
            Yes! More than one review complained about the TSF gapping in the front and (in the reviewer's opinion) concentrating all the pressure onto a narrow strip on the back edge. And I noticed the same comment that you did on the Fairfax website about the lifted front edge.


              I’ve had very good experiences with a Fairfax (purchased used on eBay UK) and the Nunn Finer Bella Donna knock off for my sensitive chestnut mare.

              The County logic has also been good, although clearly less preferred by this particular horse. Prestige also makes a nice anatomic girth. My princess & pea mare does not like it for some reason, but many other horses do.

              I had a very mixed experience with the TSF girth. It did work well on my wide, no withered Arab. It gapped in front (as many others have mentioned) on every horse I tried it on with “normal” withers. I was also underwhelmed with the leather quality and personally would not buy it again.

              I think the Nunn Finer girth is a high quality knock off for ~ $100 less than the Fairfax. However, it only comes in one width, so if you truly need the narrow then you’ll want the Fairfax.


                Originally posted by arabiansrock View Post
                I have been eyeing the Fairfax but keep gagging on the price tag. I am not positive that the pro lite girth is identical to the Fairfax except for not being leather. On the Fairfax description there is a comment about a "lifted" edge that allows the muscle to slide under instead of hitting the tight edge of the girth. That statement is absent in the prolite description.
                Interesting. I hadn’t noticed that difference in the descriptions.


                  I stumbled upon a video explaining how a curved girth works. It says that if your horse is not shaped in the way the girth is designed for (well sprung/forward girth groove), it will gape in front and be tight in the back. I'll look for it.

                  Found it! It's from WOW! girths but their design is the same as the basic TSF girth:


                  BTW, I have the original TSF girth in synthetic and it works great for my witherless, barrel shaped pony with a very forward girth groove. My saddle would be on his shoulders without it.


                    I've had the elbow rub problem with my TSF girth on a big bodied TB. Bought the fleece cover and it hasn't helped. I've been eyeing the equi-soft girth, but the price tags keeps me hesitant to pull the trigger.
                    "Horses are too spency!" - Mom


                      I sell the TSF girths so I've gotten feedback from a lot of people. Those that get girth galls have almost always put the girth on backwards.


                        I have the prolite version of the fairfax girth and I am very happy with it. I've had it for 2 years or so now. It's not synthetic like the wintec type girths it's more of a thick fabric kind of material on the underside. I have the narrow version and it sits fairly flat, it is a bit looser in the front to allow for the movement of the muscles but it it doesn't seem to gape per say.

                        My horse has a slightly forward girth groove, and is pretty wide but very narrow comparatively where the girth sits. The shape keeps the buckles away from his elbows which was a problem with standard straight girths. Never had any problems with rubs even on my sensitive skinned horse after being clipped. Stability wise I think it does a good job, but I think it depends what is contributing to the instability as to whether a particular girth will help.


                          I've bought and sold almost every single one of the girths mentioned in this thread over the years, including multiple TSFs in different sizes and models. The only time I got girth galling from any of the TSFs I've had is when I ordered it in my pony's usual straight girth size, not understanding that it needed to be sized up not because of the length, but so that the elbow cutouts were in the right place relative to his body.

                          I have finally settled on a Prolite and I love it. I think I'm done with leather girths forever, for something that gets so dirty, I love the "rinse it, towel it off, scrub gently only if you have to" care instructions. Pony goes well in it too, and like Chestnuts said, it has a bit less pressure in the front but doesn't gap.

                          If I was going to do a TSF again, it would be the StretchTec, which lays more nicely with more even pressure than the traditional TSFs. I never had any issues with the traditional TSFs, but if I have to choose, I'll choose the one that gaps much less. But like I said, I'm a Prolite convert now. Bonus, it's cheaper than the TSF StretchTec!
                 - Eventing the Welsh Cob


                            I sell Fairfax and Prolite. Prolite is owned by Fairfax. They are cut from the same pattern. It is the material that is different. However the Fairfax is softer because of the leather. Most horse do not care.

                            I am not a fan of the TSF girths. I do find that the tend to twist, but have not seen the girth galls with them.

                            I really do not like the ones with the elastic panels in the middle. Part of the girth purpose is to ad stability to the saddle.

                            The girth really does need to fit the shape of the horse to be effective. They do not need to expand to allow the horse to breathe. Horses do not breath like we do and that part of the rib cage does not expand when they are breathing. I asked multiple vets about them breathing and they all agree.

                            Let me know if you have any questions.
                            Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
                            Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Fitter


                              I used a TSF Stretchtec with the leather liner on my mare for several months and was quite happy with it. Sold it when she plumped up and needed a larger size. I also rode another horse over the summer using a TSF Stretchtec with the neoprene liner. These horses were 15.3 and 15.2-ish, respectively, and not particularly wide, and neither had galling issues. I happened to have a Fairfax with sheepskin cover I'd purchased for my previous horse, and have been using it on her (the 15.3 thin-skinned Appendix) for several months with no issues. I recently also bought an Ovation Europa shaped girth, and was hoping I could change over to using them exclusively, since they're a fabric girth with sheepskin lining that can be laundered. However, today I noticed that the Ovation was allowing the saddle to ride up onto her shoulder, whereas that doesn't happen with the Fairfax. I have a regular gauge, and haven't had any problems, but would probably go with a narrow gauge if I was buying specifically for this horse, and may need to do so in the future as her work gets more advanced/difficult.


                                I have a TSF girth on my draft cross and I absolutely love it. I have not had any issues with girth galls with this girth and all other previous girth would rub him raw without a cover on them. I also have a Solo Equine girth (I don't think they make them anymore), which is the exact same shape as the TSF and the only time this girth has caused rubs is when a leaser put the girth on backwards. The rubs were quite bad and happened after two rides. I would have to agree with no.stirrups that rubs would definitely happen if the TSF girth is out on backwards but this will happen with any girth of this shape.


                                  I bought a TSF girth and sent it back. The quality and shape just didn't impress me. I bought a Fairfax and that worked quite well and the quality is better. I bought it used. When my young horse outgrew it, I sold it and now he goes in a Mattes asymmetric girth. Mostly because I had it laying around and he changed shape, actually grew a withers, and this girth works for whatever reason. If it didn't I was totally ready to buy another Fairfax or Prolite. I have a Fairfax saddle and a prolite pad, so I'm satisfied with their products in general.


                                    TSF galled my horse. It did not sit flush on her and gapped. Sheepskin didn’t help.


                                      Original Poster

                                      Thank you, thank you!! This is so helpful! I'd wondered about some of the issues with the TSF coming from it being used backwards. One critical reviewer had used it on 3 horses, though. She said it was great on 2 and galled the 3rd horse bloody.

                                      I'm leaning towards the Fairfax or Prolite. Bringing the measuring tape to the barn today and will report back.

                                      GreyDes - Coincidentally, the tack consignment/liquidator in town just got a bunch of new NunnFiner in. They do look like a solid option as well. Can't remember offhand is they were shaped or straight but they definitely caught my eye. The horse came on lease with a NunnFiner bridle and I've been really impressed with it. It's about 5 years old and still looks brand new despite daily use.


                                        ^^ Nunn Finer is good stuff. It’s not in the same quality league as Fairfax, but is excellent value for money and will last forever.

                                        The Bella Donna girth is the specific model that is similar to the Fairfax -