Product Review: Total Saddle Fit Synthetic Shoulder Relief Girth

The new synthetic Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

We here at EN have been waxing poetic about Total Saddle Fit girths for years. AJ Dyer praised the Shoulder Relief Girth’s revolutionary contour shape which allows riders to properly position the saddle well behind the horse’s shoulder blades. Morgane Schmidt called the girth a “potential game changer for many horses,” and was so impressed that she later went out and got herself the fleece-lined version. Colleen Peachy raved about its quality, craftsmanship, comfort, fit and function.

I’ve read all the reviews with wonder but had never tried the girth myself until recently, when Total Saddle Fit introduced a new synthetic version of its original Shoulder Relief Girth.

Photo courtesy of Total Saddle Fit.

Synthetic is my siren song, as my Pony Club days of diligent tack pampering are far in the rearview. Like many adult amateurs, I’m hard-pressed for time and every moment I spend having to cleaning and conditioning tack is a moment I have to subtract from being in the saddle. I feel guilty investing a bunch of money in nice leather gear that I know is going to get trashed the moment I go splashing around a soggy jump course or canter around a muddy springtime field if I don’t have time to properly care for it afterward.

This synthetic girth, on the other hand, you can get as muddy as you please then just hose or wipe it down and boom — all good. It’s antimicrobial, weather resistant and great for horses who don’t tolerate leather well.

Best of all, it includes all the features and benefits of the original leather Shoulder Relief Girth, which we’ve deconstructed at length here in previous reviews. A few highlights:

  • Shape of the girth changes position and angle of billets to prevent saddle from interfering with horse’s shoulders and elbows
  • Cut-back sides move attachment to billets 2″ behind natural girth groove, making billets perpendicular to the ground
  • Reduces tendency to pull saddle forward into horse’s shoulders
  • Gives more room for elbow movement and prevents galls in elbow area
  • Padded and reinforced girth body
  • Double elastic on both ends
  • Stainless steel buckles and hardware

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The girth is available in both Dressage and Jump, brown and black, in sizes 18-56 inches. I got the Jump style, made to go with short billets, and am happy to report that my highly opinionated mare — her name is Princess, if that tells you anything — has had nothing but good things to say about it. Though small in stature, she’s got big movement and an extravagant jump; this girth really gives her the freedom to live her best life out there, keeping the saddle back off her shoulder and allowing for ample elbow clearance. Her front end feels freer to swing on the flat and snap her knees up over fences, and the overall balance just feels more uphill.

With regard to construction, the girth feels simultaneously padded and sturdy, with just the right amount of give in the double elastic ends. I appreciate the details, like the mid-belly D-ring I can attach a neck stretcher to when I’m lunging her, and it looks so class you can barely tell it’s not leather especially from a distance. Unlike leather, of course, the aftercare can’t be beat. I just wipe it down after a ride and it looks good as new.

Photo by Leslie Wylie.

All that, AND it’s easier on the budget. The synthetic Shoulder Relief Girth retails for $89.95 (dressage) or $109.95 (jump) — compare that to $139.95 and $159.95 for the leather versions. Whether you’re an established Total Saddle Fit devotee or new to the brand, I can’t recommend this girth highly enough — check it out here!

Go Eventing.