Morgane here again with another product review (because seriously, who doesn’t love trying fun tack?). This time I want to discuss Total Saddle Fit’s newest girth, the StretchTec with fleece. You may remember that I reviewed their original shoulder relief girth when it debuted and was solidly impressed. The StretchTec fleece girth is equally impressive, managing to build on their previous design and offer even greater performance and value.
So what makes this new girth different? The StretchTec fleece girth essentially takes the popular, and effective, anatomical design one step further incorporating segments attached with elastic that offer the horse more freedom of movement through the rib cage and better breathing. This basically means that there’s less respiratory restriction while working which translates into better performance.
While the theory certainly sounds good, I was eager to see how the actual girth functioned in practice. A bit of disclosure though, I am no stranger to segmented girths and perhaps a bit biased towards them as I’ve actually frequently used Stubben’s Equi-Soft girth with great results. Unfortunately, the hefty price tag on that particular girth prohibits it from being a go to for many of my clients. That being said, I was quite hopeful that the StretchTec would perform similarly.
To put it to the test I choose Stormy, AKA The Paintlet, first. He provides additional girthing challenges as he’s pink and easily chafed. He’s also insanely sensitive about being confined or restricted; when riding you can’t close him up too much behind and in front simultaneously or he gets extremely tight and worried (I think it’s a bit due to his overachiever personality). Given all that, it’s fairly easy to tell if he likes something or not.
When initially girthing him up in the StretchTec, I liked how it aligned the saddle and the amount of clearance it left behind his elbows (see the below photo). After the first ride it was equally clear that Stormy was happy with the StretchTec. He was quieter in his work (no grinding his teeth, a personal favorite activity of his when his brain starts to overheat), better off the leg, and just generally more relaxed and through. This trend has continued over the past few weeks of work using it. Because he’s such a sensitive horse, I surmise the relaxation likely comes from feeling less restricted overall.
Photo (c) Morgane Schmidt Gabriel
After giving it a go with The Paintlet, I decided to try it on a less picky creature. My second horse was a client’s PRE gelding, Bugatti. Buggles is only four but is an absolute saint of a horse who is the living definition of laid back. My reason for trying it on him was simply that I figured if I noticed a difference using the girth on such an amicable horse, then certainly the girth must really be doing something.
Just as with The Paintlet, I was happy with how the girth fit Buggles. There was plenty of elbow clearance and the center panel laid nice and evenly against him. I was also impressed with how he felt going in it. In general he felt much more forward and free in his withers and his lengthenings in the trot felt easier to maintain. While the change in his way of going was not as dramatic as The Paintlet, there was indeed a notable difference.
After a few weeks of riding multiple horses in the StretchTec girth, I’m pretty convinced that it’s quite effective and a solid competitor to other, more expensive segmented options. I was initially, and continue to be, impressed with the overall quality of the girth as well. The leather is similar to the original Shoulder Relief Girth and the fleece lining is quite nice and cleans up well (though I would be thrilled if they offered it in a black fleece option since The Paintlet is a walking dirt disaster). For less sensitive horses, or perhaps those who don’t love fleece, Total Saddle Fit also offers the convenient option of having a leather or neoprene lining as well as the fleece option. Those selections are good if you’re looking for something easier to clean or a more traditional look.
As someone who has literally tried nearly every anatomical/high-end/stretchy/unique/majikal girth out there (with the exception of the weird donut looking thing Prestige has recently spawned), I can confidently say that this girth ranks up at the top of my list in terms of effectiveness and overall value. This is a girth worth giving a serious look at, and with Total Saddle Fit’s money back guarantee (110%!) and outstanding customer service, you really can’t go wrong.
For more information on Total Saddle Fit’s StretchTec girth, or any of their other cool products, visit the Total Saddle Fit website. You can also check out their Facebook Page for additional updates, photos, and events.
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 33-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now 7-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.