Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
It’s always a great feeling when things fit. And by that I mean they FIT just right, and also are comfortable to wear. Without any kind of ill-effects from extended use…you know what I’m talking about. Boots are comfortable, and don’t start rubbing blisters on your heels after walking in them a bit. Or a sweater that is gorgeous, and doesn’t contain a blend of wool that makes life unbearably itchy.
Function and comfort are pretty high up on my list of priority when it comes to my regular wardrobe. Because I don’t find any particular brand of happiness if I’m walking around and am uncomfortable or awkward feeling. When that’s the case, my A-game has just left the building–so it’s really important that I pick out something comfortable so that I can focus on my day.
The same concept absolutely positively spills over into my riding attire as well. I’m not trying to go out riding in boots that rub my feet, a shirt that won’t stay tucked in, or gloves that just feel not quite right. The entire concept seems a little ridiculous to even consider, right? Well then, I think that it is fair to only hold the same standards for my horse. In my mind, ill-fitting tack or equipment can only lead to distractions, or even possible behavioral problems over time. Neither of which I want for my horse, that’s for sure.
So something else that is high on my priority list is doing what I can to make sure that my horse has on the best fitting tack that I am able to provide for him. Because instead to being irritated over something pinching, rubbing or applying pressure somewhere on his body, I want my horse to be able to focus on his job, and know that any pressure he is feeling is a cue from me. Not poorly fitting equipment.
For years, I’ve ridding with a traditional leather girth – and I still literally have the first girth that I bought over a decade ago from when I went tack shopping for my first horse. Within the past year or so, I’ve expanded and have even tried some synthetic girths as well.
I’m going to put it out there that my horse Ripley has never been a fan of girths. Like ever. Since Ripley became my first horse, he has always had a vice where he likes to turn around and try to nip me when I tighten his girth. Out of necessity, I’ve gotten really good at sidestepping while tightening a girth over the years.
I never really stopped to think about how tightening a girth affects the fit of a saddle – but I started to when I first heard about the Shoulder Relief Girth from Total Saddle Fit last year. There was a good deal of buzz on social media platforms about Total Saddle Fit girths, and I was also really interested to read the product review that was posted right here on EN.
So when I had the chance to try out the Shoulder Relief Girth for myself, I jumped at the chance. Not literally, of course…but I was super excited, just the same. On the day that the girth arrived, I couldn’t wait to pull it out of the box so that I could check it out. And the first thing that I noticed, was the quality of the girth.
From the time that I first picked up the Shoulder Relief Girth, I got the overall impression that both the craftsmanship and materials are of very high quality. The leather felt nice and substantial – like it is going to hold up well to use over time. The leather on the outer side of the girth is smooth (and durable feeling) to the touch; while the inner side is crafted of a softer calfskin leather.
Either end of the girth features stainless steel buckles, as well as heavy duty elastic, for the comfort of the horse. And there are even some fancy designs stitched in either end as well. I did observe that the inner side of the girth also contains padding – so the leather is not only soft to the touch, there is also padding to provide additional comfort for the horse.
After I stopped admiring the quality of the girth, my curiosity took over and I started to check out the design of the Shoulder Relief Girth. The unique shape of the girth serves a purpose – the curve along the front facing side of the girth creates a “cut back” space for the elbow. The recessed ends move the girth away from the horse’s elbow in order to make it more comfortable.
And on the rear facing side of the Shoulder Relief Girth, there is a deep offset. This offset helps to create the freedom to allow your horse to have the full range of movement of their shoulders. Noticing a trend yet? Comfort and function seem to be the watch words…and they are integral part of the design of the Shoulder Relief Girth.
When tacking up, I wanted to see the difference between using my traditional old girth, compared to the Shoulder Relief Girth. In particular, I was really curious to see how the girth affected the position of the saddle. Of course, I wasn’t looking forward to tightening Ripley’s girth twice and facing his ‘tude
I was pretty surprised when I compared the two. When I pulled my regular old girth tight, I don’t think that I ever really paid attention to the fact that the saddle tends to want to pull forward…but it does. It makes sense, because the natural line where my old girth wants to lay under Ripley’s belly, makes the buckles of the girth come up in front of the saddle’s billet straps. So when I tighten the girth, the saddle wants to move forward.
But when I went to tighten the Shoulder Relief Girth to secure my saddle, I liked that the billet straps from my saddle lined up with the buckles when pulling up the girth. Which meant that when I tightened it, the saddle stayed in place behind Ripley’s shoulders, rather than being pulled forward.
Ripley seemed to be relaxed and willing to move forward while wearing the Shoulder Relief Girth – he is very opinionated, and usually throws in a buck or some naughty antics when he is less then impressed. So I was very glad that he seems comfortable working while wearing the girth. Even after finishing up my rides, I’ve been stopping to check the saddle position once I hop off of Ripley. And what I noticed is that my saddle stays in place behind Ripley’s shoulder, just as it should.
And lately…it seems interesting to say, but Ripley doesn’t seem to be quite so “grabby” when I’m tacking him up at this point. Sure, I sometimes still get “the look” from him when tightening the girth. But since I’ve started to exclusively use the Shoulder Relief Girth, he hasn’t seemed quite as grumpy to have his girth tightened. While this could possibly be a coincidence, I’d like to think it is because tightening the girth no longer causes his shoulders to be pinched.
The Shoulder Relief Girth from Total Saddle Fit is available in Dressage (which retails for $124.95) and Jump / AP (which retails for $149.95) lengths. And what’s even better is that Total Saddle Fit offers a 30-day, 110% money back guarantee on their girths. So you can buy with confidence! You can find the Shoulder Relief Jump / AP Girth here.
Go Shoulder Relief Girths. Go Total Saddle Fit. Go Eventing.