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Short billets vs long ones

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  • Short billets vs long ones

    Can someone please explain the pros/cons of a short billet saddle vs a long billet saddle? Is one supposed to be "better" for the horse? Is it an aesthetic thing?

  • #2
    long billets enable your girth to be shorter, and therefore the buckles lie well past your saddle flap, not up under it. It is much more comfortable, and on a dressage saddle, makes it much easier to tighten the girth.

    I have yet to see a dressage saddle with short billets, though.
    Nothing worth having comes easily.


    • #3
      Short billets provide more stability and more even pull, but can cause bulk and/or bruising under the leg. Short billets give you the option of re-girthing without dismounting should one billet break while you are out hunting, trail riding or XC. I've yet to hear of anyone KNOWING that billet broke until something more catastrophic told me... still... that's the theory. Long billets can pinch, & the buckles can rub the elbow, but no bulk. Short billets can be run as 1 & 2 or 2 & 3 to change the fit/balance somewhat. (some even have four short billets) Long billets can be run as 'v' billets, and many have a sliding dee ring behind for the rear billet to customise to the particular horse it's on. Short girths can cause pressure at the buckles right over a huge nerve center if not fitted correctly.

      A very, very BNT used to torture his working students by using short long girths on the very last hole or two... no bulk, but still the stability.

      My answer to that is my preference is to use a short girth, on the very highest hole. I want the girth to buckle as close to the bottom of the flap as possible. It means I have two or three girths per horse--seasonal changes in coat and weight--but it is the most stable, without the pinching or rubbing issues.

      Having said that, current Ancient Passier has short billets, long girth. Slight bruising but no chafing and I don't notice the buckles. His Princeness and the Pea is blissfully happy <knocking wood madly, throwing salt over my shoulder, making sign of the cross> with this setup.
      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


      • #4
        Originally posted by Gucci Cowgirl View Post
        I have yet to see a dressage saddle with short billets, though.
        When I was used-saddle shopping, the Swiss brands such as Roosli and Spirig all had short billets.
        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gucci Cowgirl View Post
          long billets enable your girth to be shorter, and therefore the buckles lie well past your saddle flap, not up under it. It is much more comfortable, and on a dressage saddle, makes it much easier to tighten the girth.

          I have yet to see a dressage saddle with short billets, though.
          My Passier GT has short billets
          Providence Farm


          • #6
            And most Spirigs have very short-long billets. Far shorter than many dressage saddles, because the girth is custom made along with the saddle, and the buckles are to be up very close to the bottom of the flap

            (I'd been doing 'my idea' for a decade or so when I found out it wasn't *really* my idea. )
            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gucci Cowgirl View Post
              I have yet to see a dressage saddle with short billets, though.
              Thirty years ago, they all had short billets.))

              ETA: Okay, lets say that thirty years ago, short billets on dressage saddles were a lot more common than they are today.
              Last edited by monstrpony; Jan. 22, 2009, 12:52 PM. Reason: I knew that would back fire ...
              "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

              Spay and neuter. Please.


              • #8
                If a billet broke on my cav saddle I'd know... My string girths aren't fixed at the ends, there is a good 8" of play before they are fixed, so if it broke, I'd have a metal piece banging around...

                But luckily that has yet to happen (knock on wood).

                I've noticed all the ones I've looked at are long long long... my horse's girth is a 48 I think and I'm up on the last two holes on both sides. ... with those long billets I'm not sure they make midget girths for my wee one... he is 13ish and not particularly pudgie! my western cinch is all of 18" long maybe and because the rigging is so low (its built like a dressage, very up an down almost center fire rigging... and yes I know its built like that... because I built it that way.. for my ass cheeks on my horse=) )... and its up right i think where a dressage saddle/girth system would fit and man can it be a pain in the ass... or leg rather!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by monstrpony View Post

                  Thirty years ago, they all had short billets.
                  Nope!!! my Sowter had long billets, and that was made more than 40 years ago. It is still alive and in use, just not daily.

                  Long billets, or short are a personal choice, but commonly the long are found on dressage saddles and the short on A/P, Hunt seat saddles and jumping saddles.
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                  • #10
                    I know its a theory that short billets provide more stability, but I don't think it holds. The attachment point of the billets is the same long or short, and the girth, when buckled to the billets, makes for a long narrow strap that offers the same stability no matter if its a short or long girth. One of my old Keiffers had long billets and holes under the flap for a long girth if desired. There was no difference in how the saddle rode or stayed on whether a short or long girth was used.
                    I prefer the long billets and have my girths custom made if necessary so that they are correctly adjusted when on the second or third from top hole- so the buckle guard of a short girth comes very nearly to the flap of the saddle.
                    I have no trouble tightening the girth while mounted, although yes, its easier with a long girth and short billets. The main advantage is lack of bulk under the rider's leg.
                    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                    • #11
                      I've ridden in both styles, long billets and short; the biggest difference is where your leg lies on the horse. With long billets your leg is *ON* the horse, with short ones the buckles under the flap tend to be right under your thigh. You can close your leg easier with long billets with a more effective aid.

                      Yes, many saddles have short billets, but once you have the longer ones I think you will find the flap flatter, easier to aid with, and far superior. JMHO YMMV!
                      ~Equine Jewelry~
                      Used Saddles For Sale


                      • #12
                        I way prefer short billets as it is easier to tighten the girth mounted.

                        that said, my devoucoux has a monoflap with long billets and it is wonderful (but hard to tighten the girth mounted)
                        A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton