The Gaggle of Girths

I’m not really sure what the correct term is for a group of girths but “gaggle” seems like surely it must be right… right?

Sometimes finding things that Henry and I both like is impossible difficult, and he’s enough of a delicate flower that if he doesn’t like something he isn’t shy about letting you know. I can’t totally blame everything on him though… I’m pretty picky too. That’s why I had to go through 6 dressage girths to find one that we both approved of and wasn’t stupid expensive. Yes SIX. Strap yourselves in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

When we first started out with this eventing thing last fall and I bought the Frank Baines saddle, I didn’t want to invest much in dressage tack in case we ended up back in jumperland. So I bought the cheap little Ovation Airform girth. It served us really well for a while but once I body bodyclipped Henry he started getting weird patches of missing hair around the middle of where the girth sat. I thought this was perhaps because of the synthetic material (I’d had that problem with him before with a synthetic jump girth – his skin is super sensitive) so I decided to move on.

I tried Brandy’s really gorgeous leather Albion girth and Henry and I both loved it, but shelling out $230 for a girth was not happening no matter how much I whined to myself. Sadly, and very reluctantly, I gave Brandy her girth back. At least now I knew that he seemed to like the leather girth, so off I went a-hunting for something similar.

Somewhere in all that hunting I got sucked into the black hole of craziness that is anatomic girths, and someone offered to let me try their TSF. That thing sat really awkwardly on Henry, with a big gap at the front edge and all the pressure on the rear edge. He was so grumpy when I tightened the girth that I didn’t even bother riding in it. Some internet research told me that I wasn’t the only one with the weird gapping problem. The TSF was another “no”, which I wasn’t too upset about because for the price I didn’t like the leather very much anyway.

Once I climbed out of the black hole of anatomic girths and back into the realm of “normal” leather girths, I decided to try the Shires Blenheim girth. It was leather, it was in budget, and I liked the white stitching detail. What I failed to notice while shopping is that there was only one keeper for the billets, and it was way down low toward the middle of the girth. So low that my billets didn’t actually reach to it and flapped around all over the place. You fail, Shire’s girth. You fail hard.

After The Great Shire’s Failure I decided maybe I should give up on trying to find a nice leather girth in my price range and opt instead for fleece: enter the Ovation Dri-Tex girth. I had used a fleece jump girth with him once upon a time and it was fine, it just tended to not actually hold my jump saddle in place at all. Slight problem, but I figured that wouldn’t happen with the dressage saddle. And I was right, the saddle didn’t move around at all. But that girth sure did. I liked that it was wide and squishy, but the fleece would bunch up under the billets and shift, ending up twisted all over the place by the time I got off. Plus the elastic was so thin that it was very easy to end up overtightening the girth. Why do fleece girths suck so much? Why did I use them for so many years? What was I thinking? I hate you fleece.

After that I circled back around and got another Ovation Airform girth to hold us over until I could find a bargain that I was happy with on a nice leather girth. Or until I felt okay splurging on the fancy sheepskin lined Frank Baines with humane ends that I was heavily lusting after… whichever came first. Yes, the overtightening issue of the fleece girth sent me completely into Paranoid Nutjob Mode about a too tight girth and made me only want something with humane ends. That’s just how I work. Go with it.

Then, as if by magic, there was a Nunn Finer Piaffe for a great price. It was nice leather, it was well padded, and it had humane ends. I thought maybe this could finally be the one. When it arrived I was very happy with the leather quality and how nice and squishy the padding was. I’ve been using it now for about a month and a half and it gets the Henry seal of approval too. I’ve come to really love the humane ends, they seem to work exceptionally well with the design of the billets on my monoflap Devoucoux. No rubbing or chafing issues either, with lots of elbow clearance. The saddle stays put, the girth stays put, it looks nice, and the horse is happy. FINALLY. It only took 8 months.

Hopefully I’m done buying dressage girths for quite a while. My delicate psyche can’t take any more. But hey, if anybody needs a cast-off dressage girth I’ve got like 4 of them floating around in my house/car… a whole gaggle of ’em.

10 thoughts on “The Gaggle of Girths

  1. This is so interesting! I have never hated a dressage girth more than the Nunn Finer Piaffe. It sat all wrong for me, pulled my saddle forward, gave Estella rub marks, and the pressure was ALL in the front. I really like my TSF now, it works about a million times better for me. I definitely agree that the quality leaves a lot to be desired, but holy miracle my saddle stays back where it should and it doesn’t slide forward into her elbows. Henry and Estella must be opposite shapes ;).

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    1. Yeah, I just don’t think Henry is the type that needs an anatomic girth. That thing sat so horribly on him! I’m glad though, since I aesthetically prefer the Piaffe plus it works best for my saddle. For once we’re all on the same page. 😉

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  2. i am so lucky that my guy is so adaptable to anything (hot house flower he is not :).Glad you found one you liked though!!

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  3. I think this girth search, and the comments, further illustrate why any company promoting their product (girth, saddle, pad, whatever) as THE ONE solution is silly. This is not the ring of power, it does not majikally control the mind of whatever horse you put it on, and all horses are different! We all need different things.

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