After the last Tuesday Tip I had quite a few people write to me and ask, “How tight should my girth be?” I figured that would be a great follow up Tuesday Tip!
Below is a question that was a comment on the blog post:
I do not tighten my saddle to much, and once I have the cart hooked, when I put my hand under the pad and saddle it seems to tight to get my hand under it… so I guess my question is… what is tight or to tight? Thank you!! – Colleen
This is a great question because there are a few things to think about in this case.
It is hard to tell how tight your saddle is if there isn’t anyone sitting in the cart. It’s very likely that you can’t really fit your hand under the saddle because of the extra weight from the cart. Two wheeled carts will rest completely on their back UNTIL we sit in them. And this is why balance is key. And being balanced to the weight of the person that sits in it. So if you have someone sit in it, so you can see if your saddle is too tight, that person should weight around what you do. In other words, don’t have a small child sit in the cart so you can test this ?
As for how tight the saddle should be… that will differ per pony and per driver, as well as depend on what you are doing. For the type of driving I do I don’t have my girth super tight at all. My friend, Molly sometimes has her girth so loose you can see daylight between her pony’s tummy and the girth!
But those that do CDE’s and especially the marathon portion will need a tighter girth to keep everything in the proper place. I typically want to be able to easily slide my hand between the side of the pony and the girth strap after they are harnessed and have had a chance to breath. Typically this can loosen some as we drive.
For those of us that come to driving from riding NOT making the girth tight can be a hard thing to settle into. The saddle of the harness is not balancing anything. It is there to hold the shafts of the cart. It’s there to connect the breeching to. In some cases it’s there to connect the breast collar to. On a work style harness there really isn’t a saddle, but just a wide strap that connects the hames to the breeching of the harness. This is because typically when using a work harness you are driving a pair or a team and there aren’t any shafts, therefore there won’t be any weight on the horse’s back, so no saddle is necessary.
This brings me to the different types of girths that we offer.
First, is the traditional style with wrap straps. This style girth is often used in the breed show ring. The wraps straps should be wrapped quite tightly around the shafts as the saddle is also acting as your brakes in this instance. Not only will your wraps be tightly wrapped around the shafts but your girth will also be quite snug. Not because of balance but because you do NOT want that saddle to move if your horse has to suddenly stop.
Next up is the traditional girth. This is a non padded girth with the over girth. This style goes with our Traditional Buggy/Pleasure style harness. The MaraFUN and SuperFUN harness also come with this style. It is a simple wide piece of Brahma web.
Then we have the Comfy Fit Padded Girth. This type of girth has carefree lining, just like the rest of the harness. It is soft against your horse. This style of girth isn’t super wide, but it is comfy!
We also have an elastic type girth. This girth is not wide either but is a heavy duty piece of elastic that offers a bit of stretch, but not too much. This girth is very good for those wider horses and ponies and for the marathon part of CDE’s because of the stretch it offers. It will stay in place and can be a bit tighter than the other styles of girths. The stretch will allow the horse to move and turn and BREATHE. Breathing is important when you are moving fast.
And lastly is the Comfy Curve Girth. This style girth was designed for those ponies and horses that have a bit of a tummy and a very defined girth groove. The girth groove can cause the other types of girths to slide forward into the girth groove, pulling the saddle forward or tipping it so it won’t lay flat on the flattest part of the pony’s back. It was also designed with the thought that some horses have very thin, sensitive skin in their arm pits and they get sores there from the other style girths. The Comfy Curve girth is much wider than any of the other options, which can also be more comfortable. I like this girth for trail driving and driving all day long.
A big tip I would like to share in closing is, if your horse or pony does get a little sore behind the elbow, I suggest getting a girth that is a bit longer. If you have a longer girth than is traditionally seen, the buckles will clear that area behind the elbow and very often this can fix the problem!