What is the difference between a “regular” style girth with an over girth and the girth style that has wrap straps? Why would you choose one over the other?
The wrap strap style girth has a very long strap on the girth with buckles on each end. You take the long strap and bring it up to wrap around the shaft and the shaft loop, in a figure of eight style, strapping the shafts to the horse.
There is some misinformation out there about the wrap strap style girth. Some people think that was the “old” style girth and that everyone had that style traditionally. But that’s simply not true. The wrap strap style was used on four wheeled vehicles when the shafts lay in the shaft loops and they need to be strapped down more securely than with a two wheeled vehicle.
Fine show harnesses will often have the wrap straps. They are used to strap the shafts tightly to the horse’s sides in the show ring, when you aren’t using breeching (the breaking system of the harness), making the brakes your saddle. Having your shafts tight to the horse is important. The show ring is, most of the time, well groomed and smooth – making the drive a smooth drive – so float at the shaft ends isn’t as important. When driving in the show ring you tend to not be driving for very long so ending up with a sore horse isn’t as likely.
Race bikes on race tracks also use wrap strap style girths. Again you are driving on a prepared, smooth surface. The bike is lightweight and it’s not attached to the horse for very long, so again, ending up with a sore horse isn’t as likely. On the race track you also want the shafts tight to the horse, no extra movement, to make them sleeker and faster.
I often hear people wanting to use wrap straps when they can’t get the vehicle they are driving well balanced. There are a few reason this is not a good idea:
- If your balance issue is that the end of the shafts are bouncing, that bounce will STILL be there when you strap everything down tight. Now it will be on the horse’s tummy.
- By strapping the shafts down you can’t manage the amount of weight that ends up on the horse’s back. This is not as dire when driving a larger horse or a draft but when driving a mini this is detrimental.
- Wrapping the straps tightly will mean you can’t manage to have any float in the shaft ends. When driving a two wheeled vehicle float is important.
I am not saying wrap straps are bad. They aren’t. But they should be used on the appropriate vehicle.
Now, if your vehicle is well balanced and you are using the wrap straps as security for fast driving, such as the marathon part of a CDE, then go for it! Strap those things down and keep everything in place as you speed through your obstacle courses. But if you are pleasure driving and your vehicle isn’t quite balanced, please consider using an over girth and spending a little more time getting your vehicle balanced.
Here is a video showing how to do the wrap strap style girth:
An over girth will come from the girth and then buckle onto a strap that comes down off the shaft loops. This style of girth will allow some float in the ends of the shafts, making it so you can dial in on your balance using your body as an influencer. Even if you make the over girth snug, there will still be float in the shafts because you aren’t strapping them down.
Here is a video that shows our adjustable shaft loops. They help with some of the up and down “bounce” movement that can occur:
Another thing that I hear often about the driving girth, is that horses and ponies end up with girth galling. A few things you can do to help with this issue:
- Make sure your girth buckles are NOT in the elbow area. This will mean getting a longer girth. Do your best to have those buckles be ABOVE the elbow area: http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL1aCzP-xrg
- Don’t make your girth tight. The driving girth, as a rule, doesn’t need to be very tight. Again, there are times when you need it to be more snug – when you are doing the marathon course of a CDE, show driving without breeching, doing any kind of fast, hard driving. But for the most part your girth does not need to be tight.
- You can take a look at our Comfy Curve girth. This girth was designed to stay out of the elbow area and give them lots of room there.
- I have also used toddler sized wool socks and covered the buckles on the girth to help with galling. However making sure your girth is a bit longer than normal will help more!
Hopefully this answered some of the questions about the differences between the girth styles. If you still have a question please leave a comment below and I will answer it as best I can! You can also reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email Kirsty at email@example.com.