While Western saddles often come with girths (called cinches) attached, English saddles do not and they are normally a separate purchase when buying English tack. In addition, if you choose to ride in some makes of Australian and endurance saddles, you will need to buy a separate girth.
A girth that is too long for your horse and saddle cannot be tightened enough to hold your saddle in place safely, and a girth that is too short may constrict your mount’s breathing and freedom of movement, plus be hard to buckle. Deciding which size to buy is typically of matter of knowing where and how to use a tape measure to get the correct girth length.
Tack up your horse as you do normally, using your regular pad or pads, and adjusting your saddle to the correct position on your horse’s back. Let the billets or straps hang free down your horse’s sides so that you can use them to measure.
Place the end of your tape measure on the middle hole of the billet or strap closest to your horse’s right shoulder, and tape it in place with either duct or masking tape.
Run the measuring tape under your mount’s belly in the spot where the girth normally sits and pull it up to the middle hole of the same billet or strap on the animal’s left side.
Note the marking where the tape measure hits the middle hole. That is the size of girth you will need to purchase.
There is no need to make length adjustments for girth covers or fleece girths, as the fleece material compresses against your horse’s belly and will not change the size of the girth.
Remember that leather and fabric girths stretch with use and you may need to readjust the number of holes you buckle as the girth ages. Also, the elastic ends on some leather girths will lose their flexibility and a new purchase may be in order.
If your horse is “girthy” – he shows his displeasure at having a girth tightened – or he’s sensitive around his belly, have a friend help you by holding one end of the measuring tape in the appropriate spot on the saddle while you quickly measure to the other side. Also, watch those hind legs for sudden movements or kicks.
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Abetta Shock Foam Girth Western Girth 32 36