More About English Girths
Riders likely spend more time obsessing over and choosing saddles, but the girth is among the most vital pieces of equestrian tack. A slipped girth or the rare broken girth can wreak havoc. An English girth that doesn’t fit your horse correctly can result in rubs and girth galls. English girths come in a variety of sizes and materials, but safety and your horse’s comfort also always the prime criteria for choosing the right girth. When you are deciding on a horse girth for sale, give it as much consideration as you would the saddle and bridle.
While leather is the classic material, it is far from the only choice when perusing English girths for sale. Note that most, but not all, English girths have elastic ends for ease of tightening and girth pressure equalization. Some English girths have elastic on both ends to make girth adjustment simpler. Contoured girths are designed to complement the horse's anatomy and keep the saddle from slipping forward. Here are the most common materials used for girths:
- Leather – A well-cared for, quality leather girth can last a lifetime. The elastic ends may need replacing every decade or so.
- Neoprene – Easy care neoprene, a form of synthetic rubber, is flexible and requires only a quick wiping after a ride for cleaning. Neoprene does not breathe like natural materials, but it also less expensive.
- Cord – Cord girths are made from strands of nylon. These lightweight, soft, washable girths especially suit horses with sensitive skin.
- Canvas – Inexpensive canvas girths require little maintenance.
- Fleece – Girths are not made of fleece per se, but those of various materials have outer fleece linings for the horse’s comfort. Canvas and neoprene girth models most often offer fleece linings. These girths are usually machine washable and certainly washable by hand. Separate fleece or sheepskin girth covers are available for leather and other types of girths.
- Sheepskin – similar to fleece girths but higher in quality and price, sheepskin girths offer comfort and protection for the sensitive horse.
English girth prices, especially for leather models, vary based on the type of leather used and detailing, such as stainless steel roller buckles. Many riders use less expensive girths for schooling and save their fine leather girths for competition.
Dressage girths differ from girths designed for hunter/jumper or all-purpose saddle use. Because the saddle flaps and billet straps are longer on dressage saddles, the girths are necessarily shorter. Dressage girths are primarily available in leather, neoprene and cord.
Measuring for a Girth
Figure out the right size girth for your horse via a simple measurement. Place your saddle pad and saddle on your horse. With a tape measure, measure the length from approximately the second hole in the billet straps on one side to the second or third hole in the billet on the other, going under the barrel. You may need someone to hold the tape on the other side of the horse while you measure. Your horse may lose or gain a bit of weight over time, so you don’t want to measure to the bottom of either billet. This method gives you an approximate length while accommodating minor changes in the animal’s body. Then look for an English girth for sale that fills your bill.