Does a Girth Really Affect Saddle Fit and Stability?

County Logic and Total Saddle Fit Girth

You can see the distinctly different shape of the County Logic (1st and 3rd) vs. the Total Saddle Fit (2nd and 4th) which also has extra rings for the 5-point breastplate to attach to. Photo by CJ Millar.

Finally after receiving my Total Saddle Fit girth last fall, along with a collection of several other brands, I am back in the saddle and got to test this out while riding for the first time last week. We had taken some pictures from last fall of the Total Saddle Fit girth on several of my horses, and compared to a few other brands, including the County Logic girth, my old Professional Choice SMX VenTech girth, my SmartPak breathable girth with fleece, and my SmartPak Air+ Neoprene girth.

Like many of my tests, I found that having so many horses is a benefit in that they are all different shapes and sizes, and I can get a good gauge on what products fit what horses, and why.

For example, the County Logic girth fit my narrower chested Oldenburg gelding that has somewhat higher withers. While the saddle still slipped some on longer rides, we found that overall the girth laid flat against his side, with fewer pressure points than the Total Saddle Fit girth. While for my broad barreled Dutch Warmblood gelding, the Total Saddle Fit girth was the clear winner, keeping the saddle more securely in place, while the County Logic was tight in the front and looser in the back.

And for my most sensitive, strange OTTB Sky, of course my well overused-barely-in-tact Le Tixerant girth was the only thing he was comfortable in aside from the VenTech (go figure). To be fair, the big advantage that the Le Tixerant girth had for this horse was the middle elastic panels, but rumor has it Total Saddle Fit will be coming out with a long girth with similar technology to their short girth soon. Fingers crossed!

total saddle fit girth comparison

OTTB Sky (Mr. Sensitive) in all three girths. Hard to see from lighting/winter coat, but the first two (Logic, Total Saddle Fit respectively) put pressure in front and create a bit of a gap in back while the Le Tixerant fit most flush against his side. Photo by CJ Millar.

Sky aside (we don’t call him Mr. Sensitive for nothing), specifically when comparing these other two horses as well as the width and contour of the girth — they are not nearly the same in shape, width, or contour, which I never realized until I held them side-by-side — it made sense. Max, the Oldenburg, is more wedge shaped and narrower towards the chest, but widening along his sides and ribs so the narrower and less dramatic contour under the belly to armpit area worked well for him on the County. Cole, the Dutch, is very broad and boxier all around, with very little narrowing in the chest and armpit area, which made the wider Total Saddle Fit girth the better option for him because it kept the saddle in place, removed pressure from under his ribs, and had a smooth even fit.

Although the lighting isn’t the best, if you look closely, you can see how the girth on the left (Logic) doesn’t lay quite as flat on Cole or contour quite as well as the one on the right (Total Saddle Fit). Photo from CJ Millar.

I also tested out my tried and true favorites of the VenTech and the SmarkPak alternative and found they worked for nearly every horse in the barn because of their material. The pros of the SmartPak option are contour and price which I preferred slightly over the VenTech, as there was a minimal difference otherwise. (The VenTech is a hair more giving in the neoprene, the SmartPak a hair firmer, so really it’s personal preference).

For a go-to all around girth, these both worked for me and my entire crew, so something I made a mental note of to always have on hand, and on the trailer. And in the cases of horses with higher withers or odder shaped sides/barrels, it was easy enough to adjust saddle fit and placement through breastplates as needed. Though for a saddle fit purist, definitely not ideal … hence the rest of this article! For longer trail rides, the SmartPak breathable girth with fleece won out overall, as it didn’t cause any chafing or rubs like the neoprene can do (especially on more sensitive skinned horses) and was still breathable so as to not cause discomfort from excessive heat. Three solid options for various scenarios.

But now, on to the good stuff! Based on the fact that Max wasn’t ready to hunter pace, but Cole was, I opted for the Total Saddle Fit, which in addition I found did a better job of holding the saddle in place than the alternatives.

total saddle fit girth

Despite the added “winter weight,” the Total Saddle Fit girth fit Cole beautifully! Photo by CJ Millar.

Starting out, Cole was a little um … hefty, shall we say …. from a winter off due to weather and my back injury, so we could interestingly only buckle the back billet one hole and the front one two. This was thankfully short lived, though nice that I was able to adjust how to girth him up to keep the girth flat against his side as he got back into shape and the girth broke in some.

I LOVED all of the rings on the girth, which made it great to attach the 5-point for a hunter pace, and I also loved that Cole seemed really comfortable and the saddle stayed wonderfully in place throughout the entire 7+ mile pace. Even though we had a breastplate on, the saddle never moved and the breastplate became just an accessory, there for emergency purposes only which was nice. And most interesting was that when we got back and I untacked Cole, the saddle had stayed SO still that even when I dropped the girth, the saddle was still in place and the sweat marks showed that as well. Pretty cool if you ask me.

After completing the hunter pace, the saddle was still in place, even after I dropped the girth. Impressive! Photo by CJ Millar.

Noteworthy: The saddle I am presently using needs to be reflocked, so thanks to the Six Point Saddle Pad I was able to adjust with necessary padding until we can get a reflocking done. As you may already know, more padding makes the saddle more likely to slip, so the fact that the saddle stayed in place so well I feel really is a testament to the girth, and of course I am grateful for the adjustability of the saddle pad otherwise we’d have had to miss the pace until we can make a saddle fitting appointment for reflocking. (Note to self: Don’t take winter off from riding due to injury or otherwise and then wait until the last minute to check your saddle flocking … whoops!)

Overall, I think this is an excellent girth for the price, that made my horse happy, my saddle stay put over various Hudson Valley terrain, and kept me happy as well. I know that I’ll be adding more into my tack collection so that I have one for all of my horses that pace! Have a girth you love? We’d love to hear more, share it in the comments below!

Windy Hollow Hunt Hunter Pace

Cole after finishing his first real hunter pace, with many more to come!