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Ever had a horse react to long billets/short girth

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  • Ever had a horse react to long billets/short girth

    Friend has a horse that acts irritated in every dressage saddle you put on him...but put a close contact (including my albion control which has a deep seat) and he's happy to work first/second level work...including having the the rider sitting. Put a dressage saddle back on (and I'm talking several different ones) and the same horse/same work is not happy go lucky anymore.

    So either it's how the weight is distributed or I'm wondering if it could be a girthing issue...long vs short. Horse perhaps doesn't like the feel of where the short girth connects (we do have a girth long enough that we take up to the last hole on both sides)

    Thoughts? Everything is in order medically/chiropractic, etc.

  • #2
    Make sure the girth is long enough that the billets are not digging into his sides. It can be very painful if that is the case. I like mine when girthed up, every part of the billet is on the girth, not on my horse' sides. This is especially important if you have a horse with wide barrel...


    • #3
      Worst case scenario, you could also look into a saddle that has shorter billets- Some of the old Dressage saddles do. We have an old Prestige that has short billets, but is very obviously a Dressage model.


      • #4
        What about stirrups lenght? Maybe it is just the difference in how the rider's legs are touching longer than with a jumping saddle.

        Also, make sure you put the dressage saddle at the right place, which I'm sure you know, it is not same as for the jumping saddle.
        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

        Originally posted by LauraKY
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        • Original Poster

          I make sure the girth goes on the last hole on both sides


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by Mkelle11 View Post
            Worst case scenario, you could also look into a saddle that has shorter billets- Some of the old Dressage saddles do. We have an old Prestige that has short billets, but is very obviously a Dressage model.
            I have a broken dressage saddle with universal billets. I'm going to give her those billets to put on her saddle


            • #7
              Originally posted by dalpal View Post
              I make sure the girth goes on the last hole on both sides
              Where are the last holes? If they are too low, you may need to punch more holes.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                Where are the last holes? If they are too low, you may need to punch more holes.
                They are not too low...they are touching the saddle flap.


                • #9
                  Can't be billets digging into his sides then... One more thought, how are the billets placed related to the girth groove of horse?

                  Many hunt saddles have the billets placed farther forward than dressage saddles do to accomodate the different rider positions so what happen is if the horse has forward girth groove, he might be comfortable in a hunt saddle, but not in a dressage saddle because the girth might be trying to pull the dressage saddle forward. If this is the case, you might want to consider a girth like County Logic.

                  When girthed up, you want the billet to lay relatively vertical. If it is slanting forward too much, you get this forward girth groove problem...


                  • #10
                    Absolutely - there is a nerve bundle and muscle attachment along the back side of the shoulder blade/barrel connection and some horses are very senstive there.

                    It could be that particular dressage saddle bugged him for many reasons, but if lots of long billet saddles bother him, try a short billet one.

                    A friend just got a wintec (yes, really) and it's comfortable, it fits the horse and he likes the short billets -he had a FIT with a properly fitted long billeted saddle. He's very big, and I think maybe the placement of the billets/girth on him was somehow uncomfortable.


                    • #11
                      My Arab DOES NOT like long billets and a dressage girth. He moves all stiff legged and won't take his normal full stride in one.

                      I have a Stubben with short billets and he's completely happy in it. I really think it has to do with the placement of the buckles on the girth behind his elbows.


                      • #12
                        My Arab never found a dressage saddle he really liked, and I know we've had school horses who preferred long girths with their dressage saddles. Those horses seemed to like long string girths - that could be worth a try if you have universal billets. Otherwise I agree there are some horses who just don't like the weight distribution of a dressage saddle. A question: how is the horse with a really, really good dressage rider in the dressage saddle? if you remove or change the rider variable, does the attitude about the saddle change, too?


                        • #13
                          Many newer dressage saddle have a rigid tree. It may be the close contact saddle has a spring tree and the horse is more comfortable with it.
                          "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


                          • #14
                            Absolutely the short girth can cause a problem. There is a nerve in there and it can set a horse off violently.

                            I know that because my horse is fine in my regular saddle with long girth, but when she was saddled with a trainer's saddle with short girth I was doing up the girth myself, really gently and slowly, because she has tender armpits, she exploded and crow-hopped all around the arena. Then acted as if nothing had happened. Her regular dressage rider was doing up her girth and her eyes just about popped out of her head - he caught it - and released the girth before another explosion. Then we proceeded again, rubbing and massaging and all was fine.

                            Heard of this many times before. Sometimes a horse is accused of being cold-backed, but that is different.
                            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                            • #15
                              or it might just be THAT particular short girth? My girl didn't like Passier stretchy short girth, but was fine in Letticia fleece/cotton one.


                              • #16
                                I switched my girth to an Ovation contour girth, and then put a thick cushy fleeceworks girth cover on it, and they seem to be much happier when being girthed up and ridden...


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks for all the comments....

                                  Yes, he reacts this way to any dressage saddle/long billets and is happy in any close contact saddle with long girth. Don't know why it took us so long to ask ourselves this question.

                                  Hoping a short billeted dressage saddle will show up somewhere that we could experiment with....Until that happens or she can change out her long billets with my universal billets...we'll keep him in the close contact.

                                  Edited to add....he reacts this way in any short girth....not just one in particular.


                                  • #18
                                    Why don't you take up the nylon strip (I assume the billet is attached to a nylon strip of some kine?), and raised the billets so you can essentially use a long girth? And then you will know for sure whether the short girth is the problem or not. This should be a very cheap fix.

                                    I myself have hard time believing long girth versus short girth by themselves have anything to do with his discomfort. I'm more leaning toward something else is going on but that is me.


                                    • #19
                                      there is quite a bit of difference in how a dressage saddle is padded and how jumping/hunt seat/etc saddles are padded.
                                      for some reason dressage saddles tend to have rounder stuffing which to me looks like it would be uncomfy... jumping etc saddles are usually flatter underneath and usually fit far better than dressage saddles.

                                      so you might try finding a older dressage saddle wiht flatter stuffing and also short billets. i know kieffer makes a model "Munchen " dressage that has both.

                                      or, just ride him in what he is comfy with?


                                      • #20
                                        It might be that the girth is just too short. Find a longer one that comes up and over the saddle pad so it's not so pinchy. I know this is a problem with some horses, mine especially seems to happen when she's a bit chubbier than she should be.
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique