Finding the correct size saddle for your horse is already a challenge. Matching that saddle to the correct girth is sometimes equally difficult. The size girth you choose needs to address the horse’s comfort and also ensure the rider’s leg is able to move freely.
With the different saddles on the market and many different English girths available, finding the right length girth can be a challenge. It’s not like you can take your family-owned pony to the saddlery and measure all the different saddles or girths.
You need to measure your horse to find your horse’s girth size. Here’s a detailed horse girth size chart and guide to help you.
Girth Measurements For The English Rider
The girth is a belt that holds your saddle in place. It is intended to fit behind the horse’s elbow. This girth area is very sensitive. The girth should not pinch the horse’s elbow or place too much pressure on their rib cage. During endurance riding, riders can be disqualified for an ill-fitting girth that causes saddle soreness.
Measuring Your Horse’s Body For A Girth
To start off, you will need to measure your horse’s heart girth line. Using a tape measure, carefully measure where the girth will lie.
The girth should fit a hand’s width behind the horse’s elbow. Place the saddle on your horse and hold the measuring tape in place. You should fit four fingers width between the girth and your horse’s ribs.
Your tape measure should pass from the middle billet hole on one side to the corresponding billet hole on the other side. Be sure to measure in inches as girths are sold in inch increments.
Long And Short Girth Sizes
Depending on the type of English saddle you use, you will find long and short girth sizes. Different billet strap lengths contribute to whether you will need a longer or shorter girth.
When the billet straps are long, your horse needs a shorter girth. If the billet straps are tucked into the side of the saddle, you will need a longer girth size. Dressage saddles usually need a shorter girth length. However, a jumping saddle or a general-purpose saddle tends to have a longer girth.
A dressage saddle’s girth would end two finger widths below the bottom of the saddle pad. Other English girths will usually extend over the bottom of the saddle pad.
Using A Girth Size Chart
Once you have a measurement in inches, you can consult a girth sizing chart. With this chart, horse height is considered. This may not be 100% accurate as sometimes the horse’s barrel is bigger than their height allows. It will give you an idea of which size group to look at though.
Example Size Chart
|Horse Height (from ground to wither)||Dressage Girths or Short Girths||Standard English and Jumping Girths or Long Girths|
|13-14H||18-20 Inches||38-40 Inches|
|14-15H||22-24 Inches||42-44 Inches|
|15-16H||26 Inches||46-48 Inches|
|16-17H||28 Inches||50-54 Inches|
Using a chart such as this, you will have some idea of which horse girth sizes to consider. The best by far is to get the correct measurement for your horse’s desired length of girth. If your horse is an in-between size, it’s a popular choice to use a fleece sleeve to help pad the difference.
Fitting The Girth For Correctness
When you choose a comfortable girth for your horse’s size, fit it carefully to ensure it is indeed the right size. The horse’s skin is sensitive, and if the girth pinches or pulls, it will cause them to be in pain.
With the saddle pad and saddle in place, attach the girth buckles to the right-hand billet straps. Set the girth to the middle billet hole. Now pass the girth around the horse’s barrel to the billets on the left side.
Be sure the girth buckles are in a comfortable position under the saddle flap to not bother your leg when riding. If the girth is the correct desired length, it will fit snugly and without pinching the horse. Check that the space between the girth and ribs is four fingers wide.
Most girths will need some adjustment, but try to tighten the buckles incrementally, matching it hole for hole on either side of the horse. Make sure the saddle is fitted in the correct place without being tight.
Horses are sensitive and don’t like the pull of an overly tight girth. For a sensitive horse, consider getting a fleece cover for their girth. Or add a fleece saddle pad to ensure their comfort when you are riding.
Old Girths vs New Girths
When deciding on the size of girth, many riders make the mistake of using their old girth as a measure for the new girth. An old girth or a used girth is no longer true to their original size. With wear, stretch, and continuous riding, a girth loses shape. Always measure your horse again for their new girth size.
If you ride in more than one saddle, keep in mind that the billet length will influence the size girth you should use. Check your horse’s skin for signs that their old girth is rubbing the girth area and consider getting a new girth or using a fleece cover.
Different Types Of Girths To Consider
For The English Rider
For English girths, there are numerous options to consider. You can opt for anatomical girths, asymmetrical girths, crescent, and athletic girths, or shorter dressage girths.
Girths can be made from many different materials. You can consider synthetic girths, leather girths, and even machine washable padded girths.
For The Western Rider
Perhaps you ride in a Western saddle, and you then need two girths. The horse’s heart girth will be measured much like the English girth is measured. Except, the measurement will be from the middle of the right-hand fender to the middle of the left-hand fender. This will give you the cinch size to get.
With your saddle pad and Western saddle correctly placed on your horse, measure the distance between the two fenders. Also, measure the distance for the back cinch or belly strap across the belly to the other side of the horse. The size cinch will be suited to your horse.
Western saddles can be fitted with string girths or leather girths with a fleece lining. A leather girth or heart girth needs to fit with the same amount of pressure as an English girth around the horse’s body. The back cinch or bucking strap will be somewhat looser, according to your horse’s comfort level.
A girth is a vital part of your riding equipment. If it is ill-fitting the girth will cause your horse pain and resentment. Rather spend more time fitting the girth correctly and re-measure your horse with the changing in the seasons. A better girth fit makes for a happy horse and partner.