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Girth Suggestions? Girths always seem too tight on bottom and loose on sides

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  • Girth Suggestions? Girths always seem too tight on bottom and loose on sides

    Has anyone ever had a horse on whom all girths seem too tight on the bottom (sternum area) and too loose on the sides?

    My horse is like this, and it can cause him pain on the underside of his girth line (pectoral/sternum), especially if the girth ends up overtightened because it feels loose to the rider if the rider checks it while mounted. The worst for him seems to be those nylon/fleece girths and anything with double elastic. So far, he has done best in a super old shaped leather girth with elastic on one end and plain leather on the other, but that particular girth needs the elastic replaced and is generally kind of a junky girth.

    Would an ergonomic girth be a good idea for him? I've really never had the problem with any other horse. Most recently, he developed two large (rock hard) hematomas from the girth on either side of the midline of his belly (leather with double elastic; never going to be used on him again). He's obviously having some time off now, but I'm trying to find the right girth for him. When I am riding him/tacking him up, I know the nuances about how tight his girth can and can't be, but when others ride him, I can see how it is easy to accidentally tighten too much because it really does feel loose when you reach down to check it while you are on the horse...even though it is like a vice on his sternum.

  • #2
    You could try the le Tixerant girth- the stretchy part is in the middle, so that it looks like a jumper's stud guard girth. I had a super-fussy guy who went well in that girth. It is expensive, but it is a nice piece of tack and it might do the trick!
    You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil


    • #3
      I use an ergonomic girths (shaped) on both of my horses. The saddle seems to stay more still and the balance is better. One horse/saddle combination is much improved usiing a "stud guard" girth that limits one "Fancy name" saddle's tendancy to pop around. The other saddle is wool flocked and is a beter fit.

      I vastly prefer a double elastic girths. Girths are leather.


      • #4
        I would consider using a girth with a neoprene lining, elastic on both sides, and then as you are doing be very cautious about the tightness. I would also recommend stretching the horses front legs out after tightening the girth and before mounting to make sure that skin and subcutaneous tissue is laying flat and smooth under the girth. I think you are going to have some trial and error here.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, guys. I've already been doing trial and error for a long time it seems...

          The thing is that I am not always the only one riding him, so I'm looking for a girth that won't lend itself to overtightening. Double elastic does NOT work for us for this reason. The horse goes much better in a girth that is elastic only on one side.

          Unsurprisingly, this horse is thin skinned as well as sensitive in other ways. Neoprene girths that I have tried have rubbed him/caused weird flaking at the girth.

          I do pull his legs out after he is girthed, but can't always guarantee that others will (although I will mention it). The problem is that he strenuously objects to having his legs pulled out from under the girth, so will sometimes try to bite, etc. I think he is just habitually sore, sore, sore in his pectoral/sternum region.

          He is regularly adjusted by a vet/chiropractor. His sternum is sometimes "out" at adjustment. Two ribs on his left are often out as well. He is a TB with a "normal" (not shark fin) wither and normal shape by appearances other than this weird girth thing. I like the look of that Tixterant girth...


          • #6
            How about an old fashioned string girth, that has no elastic at all and is very soft against the skin? Some BNT's still use this and nothing else. Worth a try.


            • Original Poster

              I had wondered about that too...may be worth trying that inexpensive option first before going the pricey route!


              • #8
                I had a slab sided TB like this. For him, the key was not over tightening. He had a massive set of withers which kept side to side motion at a minimum, and I used a breast plate and an anti slip pad to keep the saddle from slipping back. From there, I kept the girth snug, but never super tight.

                Never tried a string gith on him though, one of those may work!
                APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                • #9
                  I have a girth I bought at Big Dees, (the have a website) it has memory foam like material underneath a breathable type neoprene on the underside, the foam is situated at the sternum and behind the elbows. It was worked wonders for me on the slab sided, and horses who seemed "girth sore" It has a very pretty outerside, and machine washes. It was under $50.

                  Looking on their website, this one fits the description: http://www.bigdweb.com/ENGLISH-GIRTH...uctinfo/41085/

                  But I feel like it is this one: http://www.bigdweb.com/ENGLISH-GIRTH...uctinfo/27384/


                  • #10
                    Not all elastics are made equal. You want a triple elastic girth, properly with elastics on both sides so that the pressure is equalized for the horse.

                    I've said it several times before but in my humble opinion these girths are the steals of the century:

                    Fabulous quality, excellent sheepskin, the wide O middle panel keeps it from slipping... and when it gets grimy toss it in the washing machine (cold water) and it comes out pretty and fluffy. The elastics are STURDY triple elastic - hard to overtighten unless you're made of steel. Made my girthy gelding a very happy boy - no more faces when I'm putting it on.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks very much for the suggestions, guys. I am basically going to work my way down the list, I think (hopefully will find something that works for him before I run out of money, lol).

                      Since he is not going to be wearing a girth for a while, I have some time to think about it. Poor guy has two matching swellings on the underneath of both sides of the center of his abdomen, right where the girth goes. They are hard as rocks and very sore.

                      I think I'm going to order a mohair string girth to try first (sometimes the simplest, cheapest options end up working best for this particular horse!). Any specific recommendations on mohair string girths?

                      I see Dover sells one made by Ovation. After a belt buckle breaking on an Ovation belt, I'm not sure how I feel about using one of their girths, but hopefully the buckles on the girths are a bit more rugged.

                      And advice on sizing of mohair girths? Would I just buy his normal size?


                      • #12
                        I have the Ovation one. It does stretch several inches, so I bought the same size I use in a single elastic.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                          I have the Ovation one. It does stretch several inches, so I bought the same size I use in a single elastic.
                          Thank you! Are you satisfied with it, overall?


                          • #14
                            Hmm, I was always taught to check the girth's tightness on the belly, not the sides. I found lots of QHs had the sort of shape that led to this issue, but if you checked the girth's tightness on the belly, your saddle was tight enough and didn't move, unless the horse was just kind of tough and mutton-withered but that fit issue was separate from the shape of their sides. I'm glad you are warning people, but just odd that so few know this fact... Or maybe I just got super lucky having trainers who pointed out this info? Weird. Good luck - I have definitely heard only good things about mohair girths, so would be great to hear back if it works!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FineAlready View Post
                              Thank you! Are you satisfied with it, overall?
                              Yes. I don't use it often, usually only because of cold weather (tack room is unheated and leather is wicked cold) I find it is a bit more slippery and normal tightness does not hold up to all of my horse's antics without allowing the saddle to slip. I do have to check it and tighten it from the saddle partway through the ride as it seems to continue to stretch.

                              As to the quality, I had not ever really examined the buckles. I've used it lightly for two years and have been happy with it.


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by LilyandBaron View Post
                                Hmm, I was always taught to check the girth's tightness on the belly, not the sides. I found lots of QHs had the sort of shape that led to this issue, but if you checked the girth's tightness on the belly, your saddle was tight enough and didn't move, unless the horse was just kind of tough and mutton-withered but that fit issue was separate from the shape of their sides. I'm glad you are warning people, but just odd that so few know this fact... Or maybe I just got super lucky having trainers who pointed out this info? Weird. Good luck - I have definitely heard only good things about mohair girths, so would be great to hear back if it works!
                                I hear you. This is the proper way to check a girth. In an ideal world, it would be uniformly snug the whole way down, but we don't live in an ideal world and the horse is the shape he is. You would actually be surprised at how many people believe that it is impossible for a girth to be too tight - or that it is physically impossible for a person to tighten it enough to cause injury.

                                It's very frustrating that this happened, but I'm trying to just move forward with things. It is rare that he is tacked up or ridden by anyone other than me, so I think we will be able to prevent this from happening again. It would certainly be great if I can find a girth that isn't part of the problem, though!

                                I will report back on the mohair girth after I try it...which I am afraid might be quite a while from now.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thank you, Smart Alex!


                                  • #18
                                    I had a horse with a similar issue - what worked for him was the no elastic, 3 piece "braided" leather girth.

                                    According to Google it's called a "Balding Girth."

                                    No elastic to overtighten, but the design gives it more flexibility than just one piece of leather. If it rubs, slip a girth cover over it. These are the first two that came up for me but I'm sure there are more out there... I believe I picked mine up at a tack sale.


                                    It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.


                                    • #19
                                      I have one of these that I ride my fussy TB in and he and I both love it. I was skeptical at first but I got mine on eBay for $45 which is not a whole lot different than a fleece lined girth. I have the Bates version in both a stud girth and a regular one. You can find them for REALLY cheap on eBay. I got my regular Bates one for $75 and my stud girth for $80.
                                      "Be the change you want to see in the world."
                                      ~Mahatma Gandhi


                                      • #20
                                        If the same saddle is being used on this horse, and you're in a position to mandate this, then can you just indicate that the girth (you finally settle on) goes on X hole on the right side and X hole on the left?

                                        I have a pony with the same shape. Already knew to check the bottom of the girth, so when the girth appeared gap-y on the sides, I could check there. The same saddle/girth is used on him for each ride, and his little rider knows to count the holes on the billets. We use a triple-elastic-on-both-ends, faux sheepskin/cloth girth.

                                        Also, be very careful about pulling the forelegs forward. Muscles should be stretched when they are warm, and any 'pulling' can strain those pec muscles if done while the horse has just come out of the stall. Does sound like he is chronically sore in the sternum area ... that padded girth sounds like something worth trying?