A modern solution to saddle fitting header
A modern solution to saddle fitting header

SMART Girthing

Although you may think that having your girth looser is kinder for your horse, this is not necessarily the case!

Many clients come to SMART Saddles with horses that have existing girthing issues, but it is important to remember that the way that a flexible SMART saddle engages with the horses’ back is completely different to a traditional treed saddle.Therefore, you needn’t assume that your horse will carry this same issue forward when changing to a SMART saddle and shouldn’t shy away from having a properly fitted, snug girth.

All SMART™ saddles incorporate the patented self-tensioning girthing system to ensure saddle stability. Maintaining an even girth tension allows complete freedom of movement of the back and shoulder and reduces peak girthing pressures. The SMART girthing arrangement accommodates and improves even the most difficult and awkward conformation comfortably and improves saddle stability for all back shapes.

Many saddle fitting concerns can be resolved by simply adjusting the girth correctly.

Overtightening the girth

We certainly don’t advocate overtightening the girth, but the girth should be snug in order to function as it is supposed to – and to be comfortable for the horse. By keeping the girth snug, both the girth and the saddle can stay in place, moving with the horse throughout the stride and respiratory cycle.

As soon as the rider is mounted, the girth should be checked again using the technique below, this is not because you need the girth tighter with a SMART™ saddle, but because the flexible layers of the SMART saddle will open and drop around the barrel slightly with the riders weight, having the effect of loosening the girth.

Loosening the girth

  • Is your girth snug before you mount?
  • Is your girth done up equally on both sides, to prevent asymmetric pressure/pull?
  • Did you adjust your girth as soon as you got on?
  • Is your girth the right size for your horse?
  • Is your girth compatible with the SMART saddle?

Positioning the saddle

1. After positioning the saddle, make sure that the horse is standing squarely and not tucking his foreleg under his body. Buckle the girth loosely so that it is just touching the skin, positioning it over the sternum and behind the elbow.

Hold a girth strap

2. Hold a girth strap and, standing squarely balanced yourself, lean backwards allowing your bodyweight to gradually pull the girth towards you. The horse will naturally brace himself against this pull, and the elastic in the girth will start to engage.

Slide the roller buckle up

3. Whilst holding the strap taught with one hand, slide the roller buckle up into the next hole and gradually release the strap. Because this method does not pinch, the horse will not notice the tightening.

4. Repeat alternately with each strap until the girth is tight enough to mount.

5. Remember to check again as soon as the rider is mounted!

NB: It is a good idea to loosen the girth slightly before dismounting as when the weight of the rider is removed from the saddle it will spring up, having the effect of tightening the girth and making it more difficult to loosen from the ground.

SMART™ Saddles recommend using short (dressage style) girths, buckled as close to the bottom of the saddle flap as possible; this increases comfort for the horse, as the buckle does not lie behind the elbow or close to the costochondral (rib) joints. Rider comfort is also improved by removing the buckle from under the leg, allowing better contact, as well as making it easier for the rider to reach the buckle for adjustment whilst mounted.

There is a vast array of different girth designs on the market and we often take the time to test them to see how they perform with the SMART saddle. In our experience, many of the latest designs are developed to ameliorate the effects of a treed saddle and therefore the benefits of them do not necessarily translate well to use with a flexible saddle. In particular, we find that the type of elastic used can be too stretchy, designed to allow the girth to stretch and flex where a tree is unable to, but not necessary (or effective) with a flexible saddle.

We are yet found a design that outperforms the Professional’s Choice Ventech girth, which has been our recommended girth for over 10 years and works well for the majority of horses.

What makes the Professional’s Choice Ventech girth so good?

  • Strong, double elastic ends avoid over-tightening
  • Generous material backing to protect the horses’ sides from the buckles
  • Premium materials; stainless steel buckles, heavyweight webbing along with double stitching to ensure the long life of the girth
  • Detachable neoprene liner peels away for easy washing PLUS allows scope for repositioning according to the individual horse’s conformation
  • Available in 2” increments to ensure that you can get the perfect fit for your horse

For sensitive skinned horses or the occasional horse which does not tolerate neoprene, we suggest: