November 30, 2021

Product Review: Stubben Equi-Soft Girth

It was abject curiosity that caused me to buy a Stubben Equi-Soft girth in September. Jan had raved about hers, and I wondered what Connor would think about elastic in his Dressage girth. From the manufacturer:

The Equi-Soft girth, when properly adjusted, effectively deals with the constriction by giving in all directions and markedly reducing the tension.  This frees the underlying musculature, allows better circulation, and decreases the restriction of motion of the gut.  As respiration is enhanced and the horse experiences less discomfort, pulse rate has been shown to be reduced during exercise.  Since the muscles are less restricted, lateral flexibility is enhanced as well as the horse’s ability to employ the external obliques, serratus and other abdominal muscles necessary to support the topline.  This is manifested in greater extension of the foreleg and more active employment of the hind quarters.

But it arrived the day I dropped him off for full training, and I wasn't going to just leave him at the trainer's with a brand new girth, so I waited until I got the chance to ride him on my own in it once in early November before feeling confident enough to ask CGP to try it.


Then I got a call from her one night, "OMG congratulations on your new saddle, Connor goes AMAZING in it, like, wow! So much lift through his shoulders!"

I was super confused. Unless Kate had dropped my new saddle off at CGP's without telling me it was finished, CGP was definitely still riding in the loaner Patrick.

"New...saddle?" I said.

"Yeah!" she said, "You know, it's got serge."

"Is it brown or black?" I asked, and she said black. "Yeah that's still the loaner, the only thing I've changed this week is that's a new girth I'm trying."

"Wow!" she said, "Well he loves it, huge change!"

(Now, if you're wondering how she could be so oblivious about tack, remember that she has 6 days a week of 10-15 lessons and training rides per day, and in order to do that much volume, she's not the one tacking the horses up. Also, on a dachshund like Connor, she'd have to be pretty motivated to get under him and look at the girth. So when he felt that different under saddle, she thought something big must have changed and just assumed it was the saddle.)

It's hard to say what he loves about this girth. It may be the enormous amount of elastic in the center.


It could be that the straps actually float above the horse's sides where there is no pad underneath them.

It's hard to see when he's so fuzzy, but I'm not lifting the girth away from his side here, there's a finger-width gap here that gradually gets smaller as you go up toward the buckle.

It could be the way it ergonomically hugs his sternum.

Real talk: using dirty girths in product review photos because it was cold and I was rushing (but I did clean it after!)

It could simply be the sizing, as I went with a 24" because it was the smallest size Smartpak had, and I wanted to be able to easily return it if he didn't like it. It gets the buckles far above his elbow.

This is on one of my longest saddle pads too, the BoT with the quarter sheet visible above it here. The buckles won't even come close to the flap on my actual Dressage saddle, whenever it arrives.


But I honestly don't care, because if he loves it that much, I'm not going to ask him why! 

So the horse loves it, what about the human? Some notes, from me:

  • It has so much elastic, you're not supposed to crank it down as tightly as a normal girth. You're supposed to tighten it just tight enough to keep the saddle stable and no further. This is a little anxiety-inducing for some people (but not me, I belong to Girth Undertighteners Anonymous)
  • It has interchangeable liners (leather, lambskin or neoprene) that Velcro onto the top part of the girth.
  • It's a pain in the freaking butt to clean, especially after the Prolite, whose care instructions are "drunk in a bucket after rides". Getting underneath all those elastic pieces...ugh.
  • A friend of mine reports that she loves the Dressage version, but the jump version caused her saddle to slide back on XC (prelim/training), which makes sense since you can't crank it down super hard.

Bottom line: It's a cleaning nightmare and I'm keeping it, and that should tell you all you need to know about how much of a difference this girth made for Connor. Connor absolutely loves it.

What: Stubben Equi-Soft Girth

Colors: Black, brown

Sizes: 18" to 56"

Options: Lambskin, leather or neoprene liners available

Price: Varies depending on options selected. I paid $297 at Smartpak, which has somewhat limited options available. Full range of options are available on Stubben's website.

5 comments:

  1. My pony's current girth is a 14" because he is pretty tiny and his saddle has long gullets. Do you think we could get away with going up to an 18" since it does not go as tight as other girths?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a small girth! I'd say it's worth a shot, but I would order it from someone with a good return policy if you're not able to borrow/try one first.

      Delete
  2. Good to know about the long version. I was kind of thinking I might want to try that on Shiny, but honestly, I have to tighten her girth pretty snug to keep my saddle from rolling around on her. (If only she had withers.) I wouldn't want it sliding side to side AND back! Lol! Glad Connor loves his though! It's so nice to feel a real change like that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also appreciate the comment about the long version. I have multiple friends who use the short version and I've been on the lookout for the long one, but couldn't easily find it in the states. Maybe I'll keep it in the back of my mind for when we finally get a dressage saddle.

    ReplyDelete