Friday 11 November 2016

Half Pad & Girth Help

I'm still happy with my purchase of my new (to me) Stubben Aramis saddle. However, I'm having some trouble fine tuning the equipment to go with my saddle:

1. The Half Pad

I've been using an Ogilvy half pad on Kachina for the last 14 months. My old Jaguar saddle seemed like a good fit but I liked the idea of having an extra layer to even out pressure and to soften the impact of my not awesome seat on Kachina's back. She seemed to go well in the Ogilvy so I used it all the time.

Also because of this graph, from Invictus, that I first found via The $900 Facebook Pony

When I had the trial of the Stubben, I rode in it without the Ogilvy so I could make sure without the extra padding that it wasn't causing Kachina any discomfort (it didn't seem to). Once I bought the saddle I figured keeping the Ogilvy would be just an extra safeguard. However, I have found that the saddle doesn't seem to fit quite as well with the Ogilvy. When I ride with the Ogilvy the saddle seems more prone to slipping slightly from side to side. Also, no matter how much I lift the Ogilvy and saddle pad up into the gullet when I tack up, they seem to slide down through the course of the ride and I worry they are pushing down too much on her withers and spine (the saddle itself still has lots of clearance, it's just the pads that drop). Lately I've been alternating riding with or without it because I can't made up my mind.

What should I do?
A) Ditch the half pad completely, my saddle fits and the flocking is in good shape (it is) so I shouldn't need it.
B) Switch my Ogilvy for a thinner style of half pad (suggestions?)
C) Get my saddle fitted/reflocked so that I fit a half pad under it
D) Other (please explain)

2. The Girth

With my Jaguar saddle I used a no-name but very nice contoured padded leather girth, size 30". It worked well, but I wished that it had some elastic. I sometimes struggled with how much to tighten it, but I think that was mostly due to the squishyness of the Ogilvy half pad.

Old girth

When I bought the Stubben, I realized that I needed an offset girth. First, I bought a 30" leather offset girth off of a friend. The 30" size is too long for my new saddle so I knew going in that it was only going to be a temporary solution. Also, the leather is quite stiff, and there's no elastic.

Stubben Aramis with straight girth,
you can see by the angle of the billets why I needed an offset

Next, I bought a 28" Total Saddle Fit Stretchtec Girth with the leather padded option. It was contoured, shorter, had lots of elastic, and glowing reviews throughout the blogosphere. I figured I was going to be set.

StretchTec arrival day

Unfortunately, the Stretchtec Girth isn't working for us. First, due to the stretch of the elastic and the leather sticking out from the buckles, the 28" is still too big. Also, while the girth looks and feels like it is adequately spreading the pressure, I don't think Kachina likes it. She's never been super enthusiastic about saddling or girthing. That's part of why I wanted a girth with elastic as I thought she might like it better, but she's gotten more girthy since getting the Stretchtec girth. Of course the new girth came around the same time as the new saddle. Part of me panics that the new ($$$) saddle doesn't fit and that's the reason for her resistance, but she's fine when I ride, her back shows no soreness or sensitivity, and her sweat marks stay looking good. That makes me think the girth is the culprit. Also, while I get the reason for the design, I'm not crazy about how the padding piece in the center of the girth isn't fully connected and can float around. I worry that it's pinching her somehow. She hasn't had any girth galls or anything but she gives me dirty looks when I even pick up the girth and turns her head around each time I tighten the girth even when I go up gradually.

The StretchTec in action, this isn't even fully tightened,
the girth is too long and is interfering with the saddle pad

The girth issue and the half pad issue are connected. First, the thickness of the half pad may affect what size girth I should buy. My current girth is borderline too long with the Ogilvy, but definitely too long without it. Second, the squishyness of the half pad makes it harder for me to make sure I'm tightening the girth the right amount. Third, maybe the problems above with the half pad are what is causing her discomfort and making her girthy.

What should I do?
A) Switch the leather padding for the neoprene option on the StretchTec (wouldn't solve the size issue, but cheap option and might make the mare happier)
B) Buy a sheepskin cover for my girth
C) Buy a new Stretchtec girth of a smaller size, with either the padded leather or neoprene option, (maybe the size is the biggest issue)
D) Buy a new Total Saddle Fit girth that is the traditional model instead of the StretchTec, and is a smaller size (fixes size and type, but maybe Kachina just doesn't like the Total Saddle Fit girth shape)
E) Buy some other kind of girth, please give suggestions
F) Other (please explain)

Note 1: I know Total Saddle Fit has a good return policy, but I've had my current StretchTec girth for more than 30 days

Note 2: Ulcers are unlikely, Kachina lives outside and is on a free feed hay bale with a slow-feed net so gets forage throughout the day. Though she did make the transition from being on pasture to being back in a pen a month ago.

Note 3: There were a few rides with the new saddle where I accidentally positioned it too far forward. When this happened Kachina immediately reacted when I mounted up and wouldn't move forward and was kicking at the girth. Each time I got off quickly, adjusted the tack, and was able to have a good ride afterwards. I've since learned and for the last several weeks I've been much better at checking that the saddle is fully behind the shoulder. Could the girthiness just be from this remembered issue though?


  1. G. Continue to throw money at the problem and hope your horse eventually gets over it.

    At least, that's generally what I do.

    1. LOL. Basically all options involve throwing money at the problem, ideally I'd like to only have to throw my money away once or twice more though =-P

  2. I ride without a half pad and I tried really hard to have my saddle fitted to where I could use a half pad. Stinker kindly informed me he does not like half pads. If you do decide to go the thinner half pad route, thin line makes one that is very slim that lots of people at my barn love.

    As far as girths go, I adore my H-girth but they are $$$. And hard to find used. Jan (codex dressage) has another interesting girth but I can't think of the name at the moment. But again I think it is pretty pricey. I have heard very mixed things about the TSF girths. If they fit awesome, otherwise they suck.

    1. I do have a Thinline half pad that I used before I got my Ogilvy, I didn't like how it shifted around, but I haven't tried it with my new saddle so that is worth a try.

      I just looked up H-girths... I did not know that was a thing! (this is why I ask these questions, to find out about options I haven't even thought of!) Can that be used with a standard saddle, or do WOW saddles have the billets further apart?

    2. It will work with standard billets. Right now my saddle is set with more of a point billet so it will look a little wider in my pictures.

  3. The thinline half pads are nice if you are looking for some extra protection without changing saddle fit, I have the straight thinline (with no fleece, etc) and I really like it. Not sure what to tell you about the girth, but my horses both hated the total saddle fit girth and I ended up returning it!

    1. Another vote for the thinline... I guess I'm going to pull that out of my garage and give it another go! thanks.

      Good to know that other horses have objected to the TSF girth. That makes me lean towards trying a different brand.

  4. I would get the traditional TSF, I've used that and really liked it. At least they are super easy to sell if you don't like it! If she struggles with that, go for the sheepskin cover. If you are ever desperate I have a schleese dressage girth on my car right now (with no dressage saddle... haha) you can totally have if you want.

    Also wanted to suggest these pads, they provide a little bit of padding but also hold the saddle nicely in place. I'm saving up for one of those too! I use one during my lessons (on a lesson horse) and I love it!

    1. That's one good thing about the fact that my TSF StretchTec didn't work out, it should be relatively easy to sell. Anyone here want it? It's a 28" black.

      What size is your Schleese girth/how much do you want for it? I think I probably need a girth with a design to keep the saddle back, but I will keep that in mind!

      The price of those ecogold pads is a little hard to swallow for something that will need a lot more washing than a half pad, but thanks for the suggestion, I'll add that to the list :)

  5. If your saddle fits I'd ditch the half pad. But I agree with KateRose about the EcoGold if you do decide you really want a half pad. I like supporting Canadian companies when I can.

    I would also get a traditional TSF girth. I really love mine and all my horses do too.

    1. Supporting Canadian companies is great. Both for the moral reasons and also because prices in CAD and better shipping! I like that Ogilvy is Canadian too :)

      So you don't have any issues with the front gaping? That's one thing I had read about the traditional TSF design.