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How to keep girth tight?

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  • How to keep girth tight?

    I'll keep this brief. I know very little about western saddles. Using a borrowed saddle on my mare when I take the husband (beginner) trail riding. I think it fits her but when I've ridden in it, it tends to slide to the right a little. Shes wide and flat. The saddle is FQHB with maybe a 7 " gullet.

    Thought the girth was tight when I took hubby out on trail but going down a small hill, he and the saddle went all the way over to the right. He hit the ground. I know it was tight when we left. Aside from her possibly bloating, anything else I can try? Or maybe the saddle doesnt fit so well ?

  • #2
    Probably bloating. Instead of just tightening the girth hard once, do it slowly numerous times. I usually tighten it once, lead my horse around, tighten again, get on, warm up, tighten again. Then she's good to go.


    • #3
      If the horse is wide and round and the rider is inexperienced, you may have problems with the saddle slipping no matter how tight you get the girth. You might try one of the non-slip saddle pads, like the Tacky Tack or Tacky Too.

      Also, like rhinestone_cowgirl said, you need to tighten up the girth in stages, even going so far as to stop after 5-10 minutes on the trail to check and re-tighten if necessary.
      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
      that's even remotely true."

      Homer Simpson


      • Original Poster

        So this is normal? It slides a little with me but I just wiggle it back to the middle.


        • #5
          A breast plate can help, too.

          My question is how to tighten a cinch on a bloater. With the English girth, you just pull it up the few notches between saddling up & getting on. With cinch, don't you have to undo the knot & start over? so doesn't horse just rebloat?


          • #6
            Yes, it's normal for some horses. I used to have a mule that was like a 55 gallon drum with legs. I used a breast collar and a tacky too saddle pad, but I could still shift the saddle a tiny bit to one side or another if I heavily weighted one stirrup or the other. Of course, I'm assuming that your saddle fits properly.

            Hippolyta, you don't have to knot a western cinch anymore. Back in the dark ages, when I was a kid you did. Now, you use cinch with a buckle end and the latigo has holes in it. A couple of wraps, tongue of the buckle through the hole, end of latigo threaded through the holder, you're done. I can tighten a western cinch from the saddle, and if I can do it, anyone can.
            "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
            that's even remotely true."

            Homer Simpson


            • #7
              Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
              Yes, it's normal for some horses. I used to have a mule that was like a 55 gallon drum with legs. I used a breast collar and a tacky too saddle pad, but I could still shift the saddle a tiny bit to one side or another if I heavily weighted one stirrup or the other. Of course, I'm assuming that your saddle fits properly.

              Hippolyta, you don't have to knot a western cinch anymore. Back in the dark ages, when I was a kid you did. Now, you use cinch with a buckle end and the latigo has holes in it. A couple of wraps, tongue of the buckle through the hole, end of latigo threaded through the holder, you're done. I can tighten a western cinch from the saddle, and if I can do it, anyone can.
              This... and if you are using a nylon latigo, throw it away and get a leather one. It is really hard to get tight even with a buckle, it doesn't let the horse breathe comfortabley when tight and it hurts my hands when trying to tighten the saddle. I throw them in the garbage. Roller buckles are your best friend.

              Also, too narrow of a saddle will roll. The saddle should fit nicely without a pad. I have become a believer of the thinner the pad the better. Trying to "pad up" a saddle really contributes to rolling.


              • #8
                back when I was kid, we didn't have no fancy buckles we tied the cinch with our teeth AND WE LIKED IT>

                Have not put on a western saddle for decades. You caught me


                • #9
                  Wide and flat is super-hard to fit properly, and is not at all forgiving of an unbalanced rider. As others have mentioned, the saddle may still be too narrow. A breast collar and even breeching or a crupper can help, but won't completely compensate for poor fit. Also, check to make sure the stirrups are exactly the same length and that the saddle itself isn't twisted--I'm a bit suspicious that the saddle drifts right with two different riders (also to check: your horse may be a bit asymmetrical).

                  I, personally, am not a huge fan of 'tight' girths--I've seen horses faint, walking down the trail, from lack of air. With a well-fitting western saddle, you should easily fit your clenched fist under the girth. Yes, a lot of horses do let out air once you start riding, but the bloat behaviour is often learned from and enforced by people over-tightening girths. I can reach down and check how much slack is in my girth and adjust the knot as necessary (I'm old skool--the knot allows for more variation in adjustment than holes, and--yes--leather latigo all the way) without dismounting, so it's NBD.


                  • #10
                    I agree that, If the saddle fits properly, tightness of girth is not such a big deal. I do like the Weaver Smart Cinch with a roller for ease of tightening. I also tighten in stages but try to do it no more than absolutely necessary.


                    • #11
                      Also wanted to add that even if the saddle does fit, the horse may have a bigger shoulder on the left, causing the saddle to list to the right. We have that problem with our draft cross. I bought a pad with removeable shims to try out if spring ever comes.


                      • #12
                        Yeah, wide and flat pretty much means that the tree can't make good use of the withers if the saddle starts to go sideways.
                        A good, knowledgeable friend of mine who has made lots of saddles and ridden more horses than most people will ever see, tells me that a back like that pretty much can't be properly fitted. You can get close, and 'close enough', but it won't ever fit just right, like a horse that has withers.

                        Combine that with a horse that likes to drop his back/bend his ribs in one particular direction, and the saddle will pretty much go over to the side no matter what you do-until you can teach the horse not to dump the weight of the rider over like that. And the rider has good enough balance not to have more weight on one side of the horse.

                        So you're stuck getting the cinch really tight, which the horse won't like, and using tacky saddle pads, too.

                        Great advice above, to use a roller cinch and to tighten a little bit at a time, a little more, a little more, as many times as needed. Some horses will let loose of the cinch-grumpies if you are always careful. I have one previously cinchy mare that I retrained with cookies- a cookie every time I tightened, worked down to two or three cookies for a six-tighten session, and now sometimes I might have a cookie but sometimes I might just scratch her favorite spot.

                        I have two really neato QH mares, but it is a nightmare with their barrel backs and lack of withers to keep a saddle still unless the rider is very balanced. One mare was really, really bad about dropping her back, but now a good rider can keep her using herself properly, so it's better. I still don't want to go roping anything with her.
                        But they are by far the most comfortable ones to ride bareback!


                        • #13
                          try a neoprene saddle pad for grip, and tighten the saddle more than once. Check it every twenty or thirty minutes - it can easily be checked and tightened from the saddle, usually.
                          Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                          Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!


                          • #14
                            No one has asked yet-
                            You are tying your cinch & not relying on using the pre-punched holes.


                            • Original Poster

                              I think this one used pre punched holes


                              • #16
                                Try tying, will probably solve issue.


                                • #17

                                  -Is the horse shaped like a barrel?
                                  -Does the saddle actually fit the horse?
                                  -Does he slouch and press down more on the right hand stirrup?
                                  -Is it a crappy Herculon saddle pad that is slippy by its poor design?
                                  - What kind of girth are you using?
                                  -Is the mare evenly built over the shoulders?

                                  Personally, I use a leather off side latigo for the stretchy/breathability factor. And I use nylon near side latigos b/c they are easier to work with IMO. I use either a wool or neoprene, or Weaver Smart Cinch with roller buckles. I love those roller buckles. And I use either Prof Choice pads or a 100% wool navajo pad. My saddles don't roll off my horses Now I do have one that is quite narrow in the withers. He sports a crupper b/c there just isn't enough horse to hold a saddle in place once his wide barrel and big be-hind get into gear going down a hill.