How tight should the girth be done up before you get on?

Joyscarer

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Dec 30, 2006
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It needs to be tight enough not to slip when I get on.

Joy used to blow her belly out and was girthy. I swapped girths to a non-elasticated humane one and now both problems have ceased. The girth would probably need doing again when I've been out on a hack for a short while but I don't tend to bother. The saddle stays where it is despite being too loose by the time I get back from the hack and untack.
 

ncharibo65

Nina :)
Nov 5, 2007
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When I was just getting used to my loan horse, I knew he blew out but not to the extent that he did, so put them on about hole 3 or 4.
Put foot in the stirrup, not realizing (from a mounting block), and the saddle slipped right round. I had to take it off quickly still standing on the block.
Now I know to put it on holes 5+ or it will just slip. He really does blow out big style though - I also try to get them even on both sides rather than like hole 7 and hole 3 or whatever.
It does seem tight, but it needs to be - otherwise I'd just slump to the side when he breathes in again.
 

Method_Acting

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Aug 12, 2005
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If I'm getting on from the ground I'll do it up nice and tight (but in stages... tack up loose, go get my hat/gloves and go up a hole, get out the stable and do it up a couple more then pull legs forward)

Then when I get on it usually doesnt need tightening. If I'm getting on from the block/leg up I'll do it a hole looser, then do it up when I get on :)
 

Madilyn

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Aug 10, 2021
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At my old riding school I was always told to do the girth up tightly before I got on. I used to do it up in stages (i.e. in the stable, when I got to the school and then just before the mounting block). However, I was riding a new horse last night who tried to kick out when I attempted to do my 3rd girth check. My instructor explained that the girth shouldn't be over tightened before I get on as this is cruel to the horse. He explained that the horse is an oval shape and if the girth is tightened too tightly without a rider than this puts undue pressure on the saddle area and underneth of a horse - this is why horses puff out and make a fuss as it does actually hurt them. As we use a mounting block - if we mount correctly then the saddle shouldn't move, even if the girth was totally lose. The girth should then be tightened when on board.

So my question is, how tightly do you do your girth up before you get on and how tightly do you do it up when you ride? He explained that you should be able to fit a full hand inbetween the girth when ridden and it should not be any tighter than this. I feel really bad as I think that I have been over tightening my girth for all these years.
But I have been riding this horse for lessons and I tighten the girth like I had other lesson at different schools, and the coach came over and loosens the girth. I’m not sure why! She is a mare and her name is Oakley. So I’m confused. And I have a lesson next week and I’m not sure how to go about this. Tighten the goth as always of keep it a little bit looser?
 

GaryB

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Mar 23, 2015
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Is it because this is an elastic girth and the other ones weren't. The elastic ones always feel looser to me!
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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This is what I was taught. This is for "English tack" not Western.
One should buckle the girth loosely when one puts on the saddle, and take it up gradually hole by hole.
If you are mounting on your own, the girth needs to be tight enough so the saddle wont slip with your foot in the stirrup.
If someone is helping you mount, an RI will often put their weight on the outside stirrup and that steadies the saddle as you mount.
However, after the rider sits in the saddle, the rider's weigh compresses the saddle and the girth usually needs tightening again. Just to take up the slack.
That is why one always loosens the girth immediately after dismoumting.
It also exlains why in my very first lessons, I was taught how to tighten the girth from the saddle. On my old share I would always need to tighten the girth when we had gone a few hundred yards.
 

Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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Gosh, who knew that 12 years ago I was confused about girths? These days I ride with a girth so loose there probably isn’t much point in having it there, but for our ambles around the field it is all we need.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Gosh, who knew that 12 years ago I was confused about girths? These days I ride with a girth so loose there probably isn’t much point in having it there, but for our ambles around the field it is all we need.
O dear Mary P. I rode Maisie in a very loose girth. My escort said she could see light under the saddle when I cantered. That was said not to be good. I have often encouraged you to hack without fear, but one does need to play safe and not have the saddle slip.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Apr 30, 2010
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the girth needs to be tight enough so the saddle wont slip with your foot in the stirrup
That's what I believe. And if by some mischance you actually have your weight in the stirrup, it still won't slip round.
a girth so loose there probably isn’t much point in having it there
I would ride Ziggy like this. My RI stopped me once and slid her hand between Ziggy and the girth VERTICALLY! She shouted me, as my South African husband would say. The saddle always stayed put, never slipped, because Ziggy had a bit of wither and we balanced each other out. I can't do that with Sid, he is round like a tin can and once it starts slipping it just won't stop. Poor chap.
 
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Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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That's what I believe. And if by some mischance you actually have your weight in the stirrup, it still won't slip round.

I would ride Ziggy like this. My RI stopped me once and slid her hand between Ziggy and the girth VERTICALLY! She shouted me, as my South African husband would say. The saddle always stayed put, never slipped, because Ziggy had a bit of wither and we balanced each other out. I can't do that with Sid, he is round like a tin can and once it starts slipping it just won't stop. Poor chap.
Same.🤦‍♀️
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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I do mine up in stages and have it reasonably tight but able to fit a hand in easily. As Buddy does tend to spook and do very good horizontal levitations, I have to rely on the saddle staying in place...
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I go for fairly tight. I do up in stages whilst tacking the rest of him up and myself. Im lucky that my mounting block is perfect height to just swing leg over so no pressure applied in stirrups for mounting. I will then recheck once onboard before i walk off.

Somedays i find i cant do up as tight pre getting on, if ive moved the to fresh grass, other days i can tell they just havent taken enough breaths in.
 
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