by Kaye Meynell When it comes to f astening the girth, how tight is too tight? I there was ever an item of tack that could be described as being simple you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the girth: a strip of material that exists predominantly to hold the saddle in place. However, as technology and the understanding of how tack can affect the horse’s way of going have improved, the girth market has exploded. f HOW TIGHT IS TOO TIGHT When it comes to fastening the girth, how tight is too tight? It seems a fairly innocent question, but dig a little deeper and the issue becomes a veritable hotbed of confusion and opinions! Canvas or leather? Elasticated or nonelasticated? Shaped or straight? Regardless of the type, unless the girth is done up relatively firmly a rider risks having the saddle slip out from underneath them on even a gently ambling horse! So, whilst there needs to be some degree of tension applied by the girth in order to ensure security, there comes a point when this can become a detrimental factor to the well-being and performance of the horse. Professor Ron Slocombe B.V.Sc (Hons), (Chair of Veterinary Pathology at the University Of Melbourne) and Dr John Bowers have conducted numerous studies investigating the effect of girths on the performance of racehorses. In a study where they compared the tensions applied by strappers saddling racehorses (with the same saddle, under-saddle packing and girth), they found a large range in the tensions applied (average 13 ± 0.4 kg) and reported that no strapper could reliably secure girths to the same tension, on different horses. This poses the question; can riders really rely solely on their Continued