The importance of a well-fitted girth

The importance of a well-fitted girth

March 15, 2021 Off By Daphne Maujean

As there are different types of saddles, there are also different types of girth. Whether it is in their design (short or long), their shape (classic, anatomical, belly-guarded, articulated) or their materials (leather, elastic, neoprene, sheepskin or even mesh), each girth is different.

Over time, girths have undergone many changes. Mainly in rope or fabric at the time, leather girths then appeared with the democratization of horse-riding.

In recent years, however, there has been a trend towards anatomical girths, regardless of the model or the materials. Then, why has the anatomical girth become essential?

A quick look at the morphology of and biomechanics... of the horse!

The girth is the only element that keeps your saddle stable and balanced on your horse’s back. Even though a majority of horses have a “classic” morphology, some have more or less marked girth place, more or less protruding withers and more or less sunken backs. All these characteristics can influence your choice of a girth. In any case, it is essential that the girth is adapted so as not to negatively impact your horse’s health and locomotion.

Indeed, the girth places itself just behind the horse’s elbows, usually at a flat of hand backwards. Therefore, it will have an impact on the bones and muscles of the thorax, which is a part of the body that is strongly solicited, especially when the horse has to carry a rider or simply move around. Wrongly adapted, the girth can also alter the horse’s locomotion, especially in the way it moves its knees and hocks, both on flat and over a jump.

By its positioning, the girth will have a significant impact on the horse’s locomotion as well as on its posture. Indeed, if the muscles under the girth are put under excessive pressure, it can negatively impact the horse’s range of motion.

In more detail, the “standard” girths go on top of several muscles’ groups.

Pressure on the ascending pectoral and the serratus ventralis can limits the protraction movements of the front legs. The rectus abdominis as well as the external and internal abdominals oblique muscles, by lateral flexion of the back and the lumbosacral vertebrae, facilitate protraction, enabling the horse to engage its hindquarters under its mass.

The girth also compresses the rib cage, preventing it from opening properly. If the horse feels constrained in its breathing, it will compensate by using its muscular strength to a greater extent. It will therefore have an impact on the intercostal muscles, which will be much more solicited to provide an equivalent effort. As a result, the horse may get tired faster.

Lastly, contrary to popular belief, a well-fitted girth only rests on the breastbone. It is therefore not at this level that overpressure phenomena can happen, but rather on the sides.

It creates a compression angle on the girth place, just behind the elbows. It is in this region, which is very sensitive and fragile, that injuries mostly happen, especially when the girth used is badly positioned or not adapted to the horse’s physiognomy.

The “anatomical” girths have been designed to reduce the pressure peeks occurring on the elbows when using a standard girth. Thus, the specific design of these girths allows to reduce and harmoniously distribute the pressures. Therefore, it improves the protraction of both front and hind legs, as well as flexion of the knees and hocks. It will have a significant impact of the horse’s physical abilities, which will have a better jumping gesture or more symmetrical gaits for example.

CWD's anatomical girths...

At CWD, we provide a large range of anatomical girths, whether it is for show jumping, dressage or eventing.

Regarding classic girth, you can choose between the “Jumping” girth and its belly-guard format, the “Contact” girth.

Indented on the elbows, they offer a greater ease of movement and a better repartition of pressures on your horse’s rib cage. For the rider, the offset buckles allow for an easier girthing and more close contact.

These girths are also available in short shape, whether in classic, belly-guard or even dressage format. Thanks to supplementary foams in the center of the girth, on the breastbone, you will offer optimum comfort to your horse.

All our girths offer additional security thanks to the Safetik® system, a reinforced snap hook cover which limits the risks of horses’ shoes getting caught in the snap hook or the reins.

The iPULSE revolutionizes anatomical girths...

We have already mentioned it in more details in previous articles, the iPULSE is a smart girth which measures the heart rate, the speed and the strides frequency of a horse. Thanks to these data, the girth allows you to follow with precision the health and physical progress of your horse. Not only does the iPULSE have revolutionary technological properties, it has also been designed to fit the greatest number of horses…

Indeed, its design is innovative in many ways…

The continuous elastic bands !

The iPULSE girth is equipped with a system of continuous elastic bands, allowing it to adapt to movements. Thanks to these elastics, the girth becomes more dynamic and gives the horse a feeling of complete freedom. It follows the horse’s movements with precision, even during the most intense efforts, therefore reducing the risks of overpressure and discomfort on the thorax and the girth place.

The anatomic design !

The iPULSE was designed with an advance and a more pronounced indent of the elbows. The anatomic design of the girth allows for better clearance of the shoulders and the back of the elbows to avoid frictions and injuries in this very sensitive area. Thanks to its greater advance, the girth naturally places itself on the breastbone, avoiding a bad positioning and soreness for the horse.

The large belly guard !

The iPULSE’s belly guard has been enlarged, thus increasing the contact area between the girth and the horse. It allows to distribute the pressures in an optimal way and to offer more comfort and protection to the horse.

The 4-in-1 size !

Its 4-in-1 systems of adjustable buckles ensures the iPULSE to be a very practical tool, allowing to girth all types of horses with precision, from 125cm to 140cm. Thanks to this system, your girth can even adapt to your horse’s physical and morphological evolution over time.

Now you know why a girth adapted to your horse’s morphology is essential in order to guarantee its comfort and physical integrity. Do not forget! The girth must be placed at a flat of hand behind the elbows so as not to hurt your horse.

To learn more about the iPULSE, click here !

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us via phone: +33 5 00 42 79 or e-mail:

Photo credits: @lapetitetinoise