We figured out why horses don’t like their girths

In a related post I have told you we solved the girth problem.  I know that sounds weird, but really, we did.

I heard a story a day or two ago at a clinic, while showing the girths to an interested crowd.

It goes like this: Friend who also rides for pleasure walking through CDI stabling at World Cup, witnessed a bunch of ears back, tails swishing behavior at tack up.

She asked, “How come all the nasty faces?”

Companion’s answer, “They are ALL like that–dressage horses.”


(And please, now that we know how to fix it–FIX IT!)


Here I am also going to tell you quite simply how we finally managed to make them comfortable.  So it will perhaps make more sense.

The solution came about by trying things we suspected would work–and finding if you do this as a job and watch carefully without investment, they really don’t work as much as you hoped.

Our prejudices at the start:

We liked our cord “mohair” girths–and on investigation found they were no longer made of corded mohair, but nylon with no give whatsoever.  Their only virtues were they typically do not rub and they are inexpensive.


Would anyone like a pile of them?

(Real fiber with spring actually is good–but you can’t buy it for $24.99.  Ever feed a goat?  We have. You shear them once a year and it takes them a whole year to “grow” a fiber girth.  Then some human has to spin it and cord it and ply it.)


These things are gorgeous!  Darin Alexander, ArtCords.  Much better, but at the tension we keep them not a solution unto themselves.

We thought the unlimited stretch fabric girths would be nice.  Our horses don’t like them.  We asked, they made faces.

We didn’t like elastic ends.  Now we don’t care–the horses don’t care.

We didn’t like short girths–too much hardware in moving places.  We still don’t like short girths and the horses have gotten over the bruising from trying the standard models.  Eventually we came up with one that carefully measured–buckles as high as you can get them–actually works.  A tiny bit of elastic, a girth shield added, and a girth cozy–no more ugly faces.



We thought anatomic girths would be nice.  The horses walked off with peg legs.


We thought contoured girths with humane ends (which we still like–the humane ends) would be great.


The horses would not walk at all.

We thought the Balding was old fashioned.


The horses liked them pretty well.

Then we got frustrated that older and older was better and better and bought ourselves one of these:


And strapped it to the beast and rode with it.  (Beast did not mind)


And then looked at it carefully.  The middle section is the pectorals–still some gel.  The spot that bottomed out is just behind the elbows at the base of the ribs.  And it bottomed out every single time–a lot of pressure was being exerted there.

So then off to the Internet and much study of anatomy and other people’s tests on race horses and girth tightening pressures and many many hours into it we came up with something that worked. The Girth Shield concept allows the horses to breath naturally while securely holding you saddle in place.  And that is what they are grumping about–its hard to breath, and it hurts.

The horses are now all very happy.  No more ugly faces

, Melynnda got her Silver Medal, I dusted off my Gold and then stuck it back in the car’s ash tray.


We found a way to give room for the ribs by creating what is in effect a second tree for the base of the horse.

And we asked Darin Alexander to custom-create a version that looks pretty much like a string girth.

And he did that too:


Nice spring, natural materials and a girth shield.  But expensive, and not actually the 100% best solution for a really troubled horse.  A good, better, best sort of situation.


The design evolves.  Now we can retrofit some girths, and we have some made over very good quality used leather girths.

More affordable.

The fiber ones are custom from Darin, we make several leather versions

We have some of what we can create for sale on Etsy, while waiting for Stubben to come to the party.  (Sadly glacial).

If you want one make contact.  Really, they are guaranteed for a trial period.  Or you can like a library, “check one out” then have a custom one done if your horse responds well.

What is to lose?

(Strong hint–the nasty faces and peg legs for a start.)






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