GIRTHS AND ELBOWS


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So how long SHOULD your Girth be?

The Girth is an extremely important aspect of every Riders gear and unfortunately for the horse, it is often not given the proper attention it deserves.

The correct type and length of Girth is imperative to allowing your horse to not only perform better but to be much more comfortable in the process.

Many riders simply don't know where the Girth should end. Some also believe that a shorter Girth provides better saddle stability. If saddle stability is the issue, trying to fix this with a shorter Girth is not the answer.

How to select the correct Girth Length

With a soft measuring tape, measure your horse from the midline of his sternum, the indentation in the middle of his pectoral muscles (where the centre of the Girth sits) up to a point which is 2 inches below the bottom of your saddle skirt, then multiply this number x 2 to get the full length needed.

The end of the girth should sit 1 inch below the saddle skirt when fully 'girthed up' for riding. This allows a little bit extra for the buckle guards as Girths are always measured buckle to buckle, not end to end. When a Girth sits lower than this, the buckles will cause quite a bit of discomfort to the horse. The inside of the horses elbows may rub across the buckles or bump into the buckles as he moves and swings his forelimbs. This can occur if the horse has the type of conformation where his elbows are held closely to his ribcage (Quarter Horses for example).

Girth shape is of equal importance to the correct girth length. Straight cut Girths are far from ideal. Always select a Girth that has the anatomical benefit of a 'cut-in' or "scooped out" area, which sits just behind the horses elbow.

There has been conclusive research into whether these types of girths actually offer the horse greater comfort. Using pressure testing mats, it was found that the maximum area of peak pressure was located in a small region of the horses ribcage just behind the elbow. Studies also revealed Girths with elbow relief increased stride length (hind limb protraction) by as much as 20%! Significant increases in knee and hock flexion have also been noted.

The 'elbow cut-in' or 'curve' must be quite significant in order to achieve these performance improvements. A slight curve in girth shape is not sufficient. The horses elbow must be allowed to move backwards, unimpeded, at all times.

Please try to remember these important points the next time your are choosing your girth.

Article cited: Murray, R., et al. "Girth pressure measurements reveal high peak pressures that can be avoided using an alternative girth design that also results in increased limb protraction and flexion in the swing phase. The Veterinary Journal (2013)".

Article provided by Kuda Saddles Australia

For more information please contact Dianne Pascoe at Kuda Saddles Australia on 03 5427 3330 or visit www.kudasaddles.com.au

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