We are often asked questions about the correct fitting of Fairfax and Prolite girths.
It is not uncommon for there to be a gap a the front edge of the girth between the leather and the horse’s sternum, particularly when the horse is standing still.
This is part of the design and the front edge of the girth is not supposed to fit tightly against the horse’s skin. The girth has a Prolite cushioned ‘buffer zone’ which ‘floats’ and allows the muscles of the shoulder girdle to move under the Performance Girth, instead of being blocked by a hard edge of a normal girth.
As the horse moves and the body posture changes, the space will reduce and may disappear altogether when the muscle bulk is under the girth.
The gap at the front does not indicate that pressure has transferred to the back edge of the girth. It’s worthwhile reminding customers that Fairfax has conducted extensive scientific testing using pressure mapping and gait analysis and that the Performance Girth is proven to reduce pressure. A scientific paper was published in the Veterinary Journal (October 2013) and presented at the BEVA National Congress.
To achieve maximum benefit from the Fairfax Performance Girth, it needs to be fitted correctly. Follow these guidelines:
1. What Size?
Fairfax Performance Girths are measured in the standard way – buckle end to buckle end. As they are lined with Prolite, they can be thicker than some so we recommend customers go for one size larger than they currently use.
Standard or Narrow Gauge?
Narrow gauge girths are designed specifically to fit horses (and most ponies) with a narrower rib cage. Measure the flat area between the horse’s elbows. If it measures less than 20cm, your horse needs the narrow gauge.
If you don’t have a tape measure, try using a sweat scraper. If it won’t fit between the front legs, the horse is a narrow gauge fit.
Or, if the palm of your hand lays flat between the front legs, the horse is more likely to be a standard fit.
Don’t mind the gap
It is not uncommon for there to be a gap at the front edge of the girth between the leather and the horse’s sternum, particularly when the horse is standing still.
This is part of the design and the front edge of the girth is not supposed to fit tightly against the horse’s skin. The girth has a Prolite cushioned ‘buffer zone’ which ‘floats’ and allows the muscles of the chest to move, instead of being blocked by a hard edge of a normal girth.
Very often when the horse is in movement and the body posture has changed there will be less gap at the front and at certain points throughout the stride, when the muscle bulk is under the girth, the gap may appear to have disappeared altogether.
The gap at the front does not mean that pressure is being transferred to the back edge of the girth. We have conducted thorough scientific trials on pressure under the girth (on horses in motion) and have proven that the Performance Girth reduces pressure. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S109002331300365
The front of the girth is clearly indicated. Make sure you fit the girth with the curved section facing forward (towards the forelimbs).
Avoid the elbows
When fitting the Performance Girth, the aim is to get the buckles away from the pressure-sensitive area behind the elbows – so fit the longest length possible.
As a general rule, fit the girth’s top edge as close to the bottom edge of the saddlecloth as possible when fully tightened. Obviously, this depends on the size of the saddlecloth, so an alternative guide on a dressage saddle is to have just two billet holes remaining on both sides of the saddle.
3. Ensure symmetry
Always girth up evenly on both sides.
4. Let the buckles take the strain
Always thread the billet through the buckle before pulling the girth up. Do not use the leather keepers above the buckle to do the girth up – you will break them!
5. Use the central loop
Always connect martingales, breastplates etc to the ring provided. Don’t pass any straps between the girth and the horse’s skin.
6. Don’t pull the front leg forward
This is not necessary with the Fairfax Girth. We have found that stretching the horse’s front leg after girthing up simply draws more skin forward into the area behind the elbow, increasing the risk of rubbing or girth galls.