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Why do you need a girth and how to fasten it properly? Tips for beginners

Published: 2022-09-05 10:14:57 Categories: Guides Rss feed


Beginner riders might struggle to remember all the names and functions of all the equestrian equipment. If that’s you, then you came to the right place. We’ll explain the girth’s functions and how to put it on a saddle.

The ability to name all the equipment is extremely useful. By knowing how to put the equipment on and what’s it for, the rider guarantees a comfortable and safe ride for all involved. Even though a lot of knowledge comes from practice, reading this article will give you some basic grounding – because girth is one of the most essential pieces of equestrian tack.

Why do we need a girth?

A girth is a wide belt that goes underneath the horse’s belly to secure the saddle and prevent it from slipping during a ride. It’s especially important when participating in horse jumping, riding in a faster gait, or for beginner riders who lack stability in the saddle. The girth protects the rider from falling and prevents the saddle from making abrasions on the horse’s sensitive skin. There are many different types of girths available on the market, so it’s important to choose the right girth for the horse’s anatomy and the equestrian discipline the rider practices.

What is the function of a girth with an apron?

One of the types of girths – apron girth – serves another purpose when jumping bigger fences. Some horses bend their front legs quite tightly, which makes them prone to injuries on their chest – especially if they have horseshoe studs. The apron, which is an additional protective piece of leather or neoprene, prevents the horse from injuring itself. Additionally, the apron supports the horse's sternum during a jump.

How to properly tighten a girth

An ill-fitted girth, just like any other piece of equestrian equipment, can cause discomfort or even injuries to horses. That’s why it’s so important for every rider to know how to properly put it on.

The girth is secured to the saddle by girth straps. Usually, saddles have three girth straps on each side, whereas girth only has two buckles on each end. So, the girth is secured only to the first and last strap, the middle one is left as a backup. Another thing to remember is that the distance from the girth to the elbow should be around a hand length.

You should never tighten a girth by using a lot of strength. Firstly, you should buckle it loosely, but tight enough so the saddle doesn’t move. Next, it’s a good idea to walk around with your horse in hand, to let the animal breathe and stretch. After that, usually, you can notice that the girth became loose and can be buckled a bit more tightly. The girth should secure the saddle from sliding when you get on a horse. The next tightening should be done while sitting in the saddle – firstly before the trot and then before the canter. To tighten the girth, you should lift your leg to the front of the saddle. Another method is to pull your leg backward- this method is less comfortable for the rider but safer, so should be used when working with skittish or young horses. 

When you're sitting on a horse, you can also check how tight the girth is – it should be tight enough to secure the saddle but loose enough to not restrict the horse’s breathing and movement. Most riders agree that you should be able to easily put two fingers underneath the girth. Remember that both buckles should be secured evenly.

Remember that the girth should be even on both sides. It should lie straight, it can’t be twisted or dirty – if the inside of the girth has some dirt e.g., dried mud, it can cause the horse discomfort and abrasions. If you’re not sure whether you tighten the girth correctly – ask your riding instructor.

Check out Equishop's offer: girths, stirrups, horse boots.

Contact us if you have any questions.

Equestrian store: +48 784 039 784


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