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Tightening girth while mounted (long billets)

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  • Tightening girth while mounted (long billets)

    I recently switched over from hunters and hadn't ever ridden in a saddle with long billets until 6 months or so ago. I could easily tighten my girth in my (short billeted) hunt seat saddle, while walking. If, God forbid, I find my girth to be loose after I get on in my (long billeted) dressage saddle, I feel like a monkey trying to tighten it! I feel like I have to lean waaaaaayy down and can hardly feel what I'm doing, plus I can barely push the billet ends back in the "keeper" part of the girth when I'm done.

    Is this normal or is there an easier way? Luckily my horse is quiet but I still feel like maybe I should just dismount, tighten, and get back on instead of potentially falling on my head!

  • #2
    Make sure your girth is long enough. You don't want the buckles anywhere near his elbows. Mine has about 2 inches between the bottom of the saddle and the top of the girth.


    • Original Poster

      Yeah, my girth buckle is only a couple inches from the edge of the flap. I can't go up a girth size, if that's any indication.


      • #4
        Originally posted by KPF View Post
        Yeah, my girth buckle is only a couple inches from the edge of the flap. I can't go up a girth size, if that's any indication.
        LOL, It's a learned skill for sure.

        When you bend down try to move your butt to the very back of the saddle so when you're tightening, you're not so far on the neck. You're more over the shoulders. Keep your shortened reins in one hand and rested on the neck (over the mane) - gives you more balance and also you can use your reins if the horse starts to walk off.

        I'm not sure if that made any sense It's hard to explain!


        • #5
          I don't even try, just make sure the girth is where it needs to be before I get on. You should be able to ride with a loose girth, anyway, you're not going over fences. I can slide my flattened fingers between the girth and the horse at the girth's tightest.

          "The horse you get off is not the same horse that you got on. It's our task as riders to make sure that the difference is for the better."


          • #6
            Yeah, it is awkward, and I give my husband a heart attack every time he sees me doing it, and if you get short arms like me, that is going to be extra awkward. I just shorten the reins, bridge them into one hand, grab a handful of mane in my rein hand, and lean waaaaay over the neck to tighten the girth....

            I only do it at home on my very seasoned horse. I don't do it if I'm at clinics/shows where they are more excited; and I don't attempt it on my green horse. I either hop off, or find someone to help me.


            • #7
              Originally posted by threemagicalmares View Post
              I don't even try, just make sure the girth is where it needs to be before I get on. You should be able to ride with a loose girth, anyway, you're not going over fences. I can slide my flattened fingers between the girth and the horse at the girth's tightest.
              I wasn't always a Smurf
              Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
              "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
              The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


              • #8
                It's called a groom.
                "Your best can be worn at any length"- Jason Mraz


                • #9
                  When you do you girth in a jumping saddle, you put you leg forward over the flap and tighen under the flap.
                  When you want to tighten the girth with long billets, keep both your stirrups, put your leg(the one on the side you are tightening) a behind the girth, turn your shoulder and seat toward the side you are about to tighten and stick you bum out on the other side while going down with your upper body and arms. It's the easiest way, it gets you right there without going over the neck, and you can use both hands.
                  ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                  Originally posted by LauraKY
                  I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                  HORSING mobile training app


                  • #10
                    I don't think riding with a loose girth is good.
                    Like every other piece of tack, it should be well fitted or it could cause rubbing or other problems.
                    Without realising it, you will be gripping the saddle if it's even slightly moving.

                    What is the point of having a saddle if it is not properly tighten?
                    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                    Originally posted by LauraKY
                    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                    HORSING mobile training app


                    • #11
                      The only easier way is with lots of practice, haha. You'll get used to it!


                      • #12
                        You'll get used to it. I ride a pony who's girth buckles (the peg part) have springs in them so they stay in place when you tighten the girth. You dont have to fiddle with getting the peg in the hole. I can usually just pull up the billet and the peg slips into the hole.


                        • #13
                          I do all my girth tightening before I get on. I know how tight it needs to be for my horse and I tighten it to that point gradually. Put saddle on and tighten pretty loosely. Put on my helmet and gloves, tighten a hole. Put on bridle, tighten a hole. Walk out to ring, tighten, pull down stirrups tighten. At that point it should be enough, but if needed can walk forward a bit, one last tighten.

                          The very rare times I do need to tighten under saddle it is pretty difficult and I can never tuck the straps back in the billet holders.


                          • #14
                            I watched a pro one time reach down on a fairly seasoned horse to tighten girth. Saddle shifted, said pro went in the dirt and said horse bolted off with saddle 1/2 way around his barrel, galloping around property scared witless. Fortunately rider and horse were fine, but the horse could have done himself in.

                            Don't do it...
                            We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                            • Original Poster

                              Glad to know it's not just me!

                              Zevida, that's about what I do currently, but Mr. Horse is starting to develop a topline, and I've changed saddle pad configurations, so I've had a few times where I've discovered that the girth is loose after I've been on for a few minutes.

                              Hopefully I can stay with the current saddle pad plan for a while and get used to whichever holes it needs to be on before I get on. I think otherwise I'll get off to tighten. I have a tall mounting block so it's no big deal. I have my horses at home so unless I'm having a lesson, unfortunately I can't beg someone else to tighten it from the ground!


                              • #16

                                Nowadays, I find it EASIER to tighten, while mounted, the "short girth" on my dressage saddle than the "long girth" on my jumping 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).


                                • #17
                                  I'm so used to tightening the girth from the saddle that I didn't think it would be such a big deal to someone else.

                                  Now, if it had to be tightened on the OTHER side, I'd be in trouble. Probably not nearly as flexible going the opposite way.

                                  My old Arab can still do a quick spook/spin and luckily has never done it while fixing the girth. I always mumble "Buckle up for safety" while doing it; maybe he's listening.


                                  • #18
                                    Just one more example of why dressage riders are more supple than h/j riders!