Girth Too Tight?

By Terry Golson

In my quest to keep Tonka comfortable under saddle, I’ve been taking second looks at my routine and my gear. (Read about why I changed his bit here.) Some things I do as a matter of rote. I’ve used the same style and brand of girth for the last five years. I tried other girths, and Tonka told me, in no uncertain terms, that they were not acceptable. Put a leather or neoprene girth on my horse, and he won’t let me on!

This is the

that he likes.


There’s elastic that holds on the buckles and extends partway around the outside of the girth. It allows for expansion as Tonka breathes and moves.

Since everything has stayed pretty much the same for years – saddle, pad, Tonka’s weight and condition – I do the girth up six holes on each side. I haven’t thought about it. Recently that elastic stretched out and bulged. Time to get a new girth. Same size and design as the last. So I did the girth up 6 holes on each side.

Tonka let me get on. He behaved normally, sort of. But…

There was that look.


The thing about thick fleecy girths with elastic is that it’s easy to pull them up too tight.

I now do the girth up 6 holes on one side and 5 on the other. I check after I ride. There are no rub marks, and Tonka says it’s okay to press him all along the girth area.


No major harm done. But if this had gone on over time, if my horse had been uncomfortable so that he was less willing to move, and if I’d pushed him forward anyway, our relationship and our training would have deteriorated. One hole matters.

What girth do you use on your horse?

4 thoughts on “Girth Too Tight?

  • Michelle McMillen

    I use a Shoulder Relief girth. Wish I’d discovered it years ago, when my horse Russell was struggling with saddle fit. It was hard to find one that didn’t gouge into the hollows behind his shoulders; this girth would have helped by not pulling the saddle forward INTO those hollows. Lance says it is very nice, thank-you.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I’ve thought about that girth and tried a copy-cat version. Out of neoprene like material, but Tonka likes his soft fleece. Still, if you look at Tonka’s conformation, his elbows are high, and it’d be nice to have the girth further back. Might be worth spending the $.

Comments are closed.