May 3, 2017

A Long, Circular Story about Girths and Being a Responsible Blogger

This is a long, circular story about blogging, girths, and why I completely failed at sizing them for Connor.

A long time ago, I had a..20"? 22"? Total Saddle Fit Dressage girth:

Which was fine, but I thought it was a little big.  It came up higher than I thought it should on Connor's sides.

And the World's Longest Billets on the Thorowgood I owned back then stuck out by a solid 6".

So I sold it to get something shorter and ended up with an 18" Total Saddle Fit StretchTec Shoulder Relief Girth:

Which I was moderately happy with, even if cleaning it drove me CRAZY.  You just cannot keep hair and dirt from getting in between the Velcro "halves".  It was always dirty.

Then a few weeks ago, when Connor's summer coat was coming in, I noticed white patches forming where the two "halves" of the girth must have rubbed Connor, with the velcro in between them.  I had no idea this was even happening, there were no rubs or damage to his winter coat, but we'd had that girth for months, so it had been a while, poor pony.

White spot by girth visible in this "Hey is my horse downhill?" photo I probably sent JenJ.  The white spot has since faded, so I caught it in time before it completely killed the pigmentation and became an acquired leukoderma.

I was immediately very mad at this "gimmicky" girth that hurt my horse, and was so irrationally frustrated with anatomic girths in general, I bought a contoured Lettia Click girth as an impulse buy and sold the TSF.  And came this close to writing a post about how terribly designed the TSF StretchTec girth was.  But I'm glad I didn't...

Lettia Click Girth shown.  I loved the Click mechanism.

In the process of my remote saddle fitting experience with Ann of Equestrian Imports, she pointed out that the straight Lettia girth was all up in Connor's business behind his elbow, which was pulling the saddle forward of where it should be.  She told me to move the saddle back and put a hands width of space between his elbow and the girth, which I did, but...

Both saddle and girth would always slide forward to the original location very shortly into my rides.

Ann suggested a Total Saddle Fit girth (of course she did) but in 24".  When I protested and said that must be too big, she said "Absolutely not, if it's any shorter the contours will be in the wrong places and rub him."

Immediately, I thought "Oh.  My God.  I am an idiot.  THAT'S why the StretchTec girth rubbed Connor.  It wasn't the girth's fault at all.  And I'm really glad I didn't write that scathing blog post now."

So, because Ann sells them, and because I knew some karma just came full circle, I ended up with another classic TSF girth.  This time in a 24" size.  And the saddle and girth both stayed where I put them, where Ann recommended them, through the entire ride:

Taken after a ride.

Compare to the Lettia girth photos above.  So much more freedom behind the elbow for him

There are a few takeaways here:
- Sizing anatomic girths properly REALLY matters.  And the length of the girth and whether it keeps your saddle on the horse is only one small part of that sizing.

- It's important to do your due diligence before blasting a product on this very public platform.  I am so glad I didn't write what was on my mind when I thought bad design was the reason for Connor's rubs.  We don't owe anything to the manufacturers, and should feel free to state our opinions, but man, my opinion would have been dead wrong.  And the internet is forever.

- Connor definitely needs an anatomic girth.  No question.

- I could have saved myself a lot of buying and selling if I had just thought a little more critically about how the girths fit him.

And with that...we are REALLY done shopping for saddles and girths now!


  1. I never thought about how the size would place the contours in the correct (or incorrect) place! D'Oh!!

  2. You really don't have much room for error on a tiny little Connor, either. I've been curious about the Stretch Tech stuff but glad to know you found something that works.

    1. I like it, functionally. It does have a lot more evenly distributed pressure than the classic. But between the Velcro and the cloth being right on the sweatiest part of the horse, it is literally impossible to clean. And almost certainly has a shorter lifespan too, that elastic will wear out eventually.

  3. Your experience fits mine to a T - you need a longer anatomic girth than you think to be sure you get that elbow clearance. Fairfax actually recommends that your girth should end an inch below the bottom of your saddle flap! I'm glad you found one that fits C and works for him - it's a real struggle!

  4. Girth sizing is super important, and is one reason why I had to buy 6 different girths for Kachina before I found one that worked for her ( That said, while the TSF Stretchtec girth didn't seem to interfere with Kachina's shoulders, or rub, she clearly told me that she did not like it. Despite putting it on carefully, I think the gaps between the leather in the elastic section, and the stiffness of the velcro, made it uncomfortable for her. I still needed an anatomic shaped girth to keep my saddle in place, but I've found that a Prolite Girth (synthetic version of the Fairfax) made us both happier.

  5. I have been using a County anatomical girth on Riva for years for the very reason that it kept the saddle where it should be. When I learned about Total Saddle Fit ( believe from you!) - same girth at half the price, that is what Ffergie got. Love TSF products and their customer service is amazing!

  6. Very good follow up! Dressage girths I find pretty mystifying but thanks for shedding light on the topic

  7. I completely agree about it being tougher to clean. I just say it's good for my OCD to have to deal with it and try not to look at it that much haha. I know I'm really happy with it in a 22" but most people with big horses use 22" girths so I've always thought Katai was just a weird anomaly but maybe that's just how it's supposed to fit :)

  8. I like mine. Nilla got a gall from a different girth and I bought the sheepskin cover. She doesn't need it now that the gall is healed up, but I figure it adds to the comfort and makes it easier to clean as the girth itself doesn't collect hair/dirt, so I leave it on. You might want to consider adding one.

  9. Good to know! Thank you for sharing!