Horse girths and Girth Sleeves
A girth is part of horse tack that keeps the saddle in position, strapping around the middle of the animal and connecting to the billets of the saddle on either side.
For speed or jumping events - including show jumping, polo, fox hunting and eventing – other horse tack may also be required to keep the saddle securely in place such as breastplates, breastgirths, breastcollars, and overgirths (surcingles).
Pressure should be spread uniformly around a horse's girth, making the size of the girth an important consideration. This piece of horse tack ought not to be too narrow, unclean, or too tight. And there should be enough room to get two fingers between your horse and its girth.
It is also best if it has some "give" to it, which makes it more comfortable for the horse. Many riders also choose one that allows for extra elbow room, so the horse is not restricted as his leg moves backward.
How to measure a girth
To measure for a girth, such as a Stubben or a Frank Baines girth, the saddle with a pad or numnah should be placed on the horse. A measuring tape can then be used to measure from the middle hole of the billet on one side, under the horse's belly, to the middle billet on the other side.
Durable leather and neoprene girths
English girths - such as those from Frank Baines - are usually made of either leather or neoprene; a soft and easy-to-clean synthetic rubber material. As the traditional choice, leather suits most horses, but needs to be kept very clean and supple to provide a comfortable fit. The Frank Baines stud girth features a removable woollen backing which can easily be taken off to clean.
Neoprene is a good alternative as it is easy to clean and take care of. The Tekna girth is fantastic alternative to leather ones, and with its affordability it makes a great second girth for general hacking and schooling work. A leather girth can then be used for competitions.
Dressage girths are shorter than those used on other saddles because the dressage saddles have longer billets, keeping buckles away from under riders' legs.
Problems with girths
It is important for a girth to fit comfortably. If it is too narrow or has a narrow reinforcing strip down the centre, it may cause discomfort. Symptoms can include chafing and pinching around a horse's elbows and middle. So called "girth galls" can be formed that appear as tiny lumps near the elbows; left untreated, they can develop into nasty open sores.
Another equine illness is "girth itch", usually caused when this piece of tack fits poorly. A bacterial infection, it occurs after a horse has got too sweaty - it needs to be treated by antifungal medication and antibiotics. Leather girths maybe more suitable for some horses than neoprene.
Do check your equine friend's skin is not wrinkled under the girth. To remedy this problem, help the animal stretch out its front legs.
Horses often hold their breath when the girth is tightened, giving a false impression the saddle is tight. As many a rider experiences, the horse seems to breathe out as soon as the rider has mounted, leaving the saddle loose and likely to slip. This effect can be reduced in some horses by slowly tightening the girth over a period of a few minutes rather than making it very tight straight away.
Girths in the Dogwood Collection
Girths are among a wide range of horse tack and equestrian equipment supplied for sale by the Dogwood tack shop. As well as Stubben, Frank Baines, Tekna, Amerigo and Equippe brands, the collection also features NuuMed woollen girth sleeves.
Our equestrian products are made of the finest materials, providing reliability and comfort for both horse and rider and are all extremely long lasting.
For more information about anything at Dogwood please feel free to contact one of our friendly team on 0845 30 10 365.