Tighten your girth

Bronco Sculpture, League City, Texas 0206101152
Creative Commons License photo credit: accent on eclectic

We all want to be safe when we ride, right?  And we all know that our girth should be tight, right?  So make it a habit to slip your hand under the girth just prior to mounting to double check to see if that girth is tight enough.

When tacking up, some horses get sore and sour because in the rush to ensure that the girth is tight, un-savvy horsepeople slap the saddle on and yank up the girth.  This pinches the tender skin behind the horses elbow and causes discomfort.  As a result the horse often begins to nip and pin its ears.

Have a heart and loosely put on the girth so that the saddle will not slip around.  Let your horse relax and then tighten it again a hole or two and just before mounting check and tighten it one last time.

Here is my routine for tacking up:

  • put on saddle and loosely do up the girth.
  • put on any bandages or boots necessary
  • readjust saddle pad and tighten girth one more hole
  • put on the bridle
  • readjust saddle if necessary and tighten girth one more hole
  • lead horse out and prior to mounting check girth and tighten one more hole if necessary
  • warm up the horse and check girth and tighten one more hole if necessary

As you can see the girth plays an important role in my regime.  I am happy to report none of my horses bite, tail swish or pin their ears during tacking up.  I tighten it and check it 5 times  and four of those times is prior to mounting.

It is important to do the girth up in steps to prevent the horse from getting sore and sour and biting, nipping or tail swishing.  Horses that have developed this habit of biting and tail swishing are usually sore and sour and this habit can be reversed by doing the girth up slowing one hole at a time rather than several yanks which pulls the tender skin near the elbow of the horse.

4 Responses to Tighten your girth

  1. Dawna Lucas says:

    Thanks for the great advice, I’m going to use this routine when I first introduce tightening the girth on my youngster this spring! She’s had a saddle on her back before, but no tightened yet.

  2. Laura says:

    Thank you Dawna. That sounds like a good idea!

  3. Very interesting to hear how you adjust it in small incremental ways. I usually tighten just once after the horse has had the saddle on for a few minutes. But your approach seems more humane, and probably effective!

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks Brett for the comment…
    I used to ‘crank the girth’ but now I go one hole at a time. Since starting my one hole at a time girth tightening routine… I’ve never had a cinch-y horse and have cured some ‘cinch’y’ mares.


Leave a Reply