girth too tight...too loose
I have just gotten back into horses after a 20 yrs hiatus. I have a 5 yrs old Percheron and my husband an 18 yrs old foundation QH. When we first got the QH she was very cinchy and would jerk around when saddling. After some time she is now much more relaxed now that she realizes we aren't going to cut her in half with the strap. My Percheron quilding was never over cinched so didn't have that issue. Yesterday a friend went to mount my guilding, I hadn't had the chance to counter weight the other side of the saddle and the saddle rolled. He is a large man... 250 + lbs. My horse never moved and he didn't get hurt. He tried again and mounted with no issues once I had a chance to counter weight him.
The group we ride with are constantly encouraging me to tighten the girths on our horses. I am comfortable with the tightness of the girth. It is snug when I mount and I can often see daylight by the end of a ride. The QH we got from a couple we now ride with. They say one day we'll end up on the side of the horse.
I don't want to cinch any tighter because I worry about long term health problems due to an over tight girth strap (respiratory, muscular, ect). But I also want to be safe.
How tight is too tight? How loose is too loose???
It's not uncommon for a horse to bloat when the girth is tightened, so you should always walk a horse around and tighten as you go before mounting. And if you've got a determined bloater, you may need to re-tighten the girth a few minutes into the ride.
Tightness-wise, I want to be able to fit both hands in there and just barely be able to pull a tiny bit of slack. I certainly don't want to see daylight, because if the horse suddenly jumps to the side, the saddle just might end up underneath him.
A well-fitting saddle can help stop sliding, as can appropriate saddle pads. And when mounting, either use a mounting block or grab the horse's mane/withers to stabilize....never the saddle horn.
Daylight is too loose for me, no matter where or when I am in my ride. I cinch tight enough that I have to work a little to slide my hand under at the start of my ride, usually by the end when my horse has fully deflated and everything is as warm and stretched as it could be I can fit my hand under easily, but still no daylight. Be prepared for the unexpected- a bolt, startle, or spin is not the time I want to be wishing I had tightened my girth more.
A normal human using only their own strength will not be able to tighten a girth so tight it is damaging to the horse. Uncomfortable, yes, especially if it's a big strong guy, but sores, etc are from the tack not fitting, not generally over tightening.
I snug my girth up, 2 fingers tight. I think it gets loose after awhile more because of being new. But still I have never felt insecure in the saddle even when we had a meltdown on our first trail ride together. I know I have the strength to make it much tighter. I just don't know if there's a point in doing that. I see others crouch down and pulling up with all they have. I don't have a need to be able to stand in one stirup on the side of my horse without my saddle moving. I was taught 30+ yrs ago that a saddle doesn't keep you on the horse, ability, training and balance does. I guess I never really forgot that. But again hitting the ground at 15 is a lot different then hitting it now.
lack of body strength spring in your leg and poor technique. You shouldn"t really be pulling yourself up with the saddle,
I like it snug. Daylight runs the risk of severe injury if there is an accident on the trail. For example, if your horse spooks and your whole saddle rolls, you may not be able to get your feet out of the stirrups and your body away from the hooves in time to save yourself from being trampled or drug. Granted, you can still get trampled or drug, but it is less likely to occur if your saddle is nice and snug on top of your horse's back and doesn't fall with you.
Girth up your horse, give them a few minutes to deflate, then snug the girth up so that it is secure. There is no need to cut into the horse's skin, but it should be snug.
When I first saddle up I tighten my cinch enough that if the horse moves the saddle wont move. Then I go and do something else like the rear cinch. The snug my first cinch a little more. I do this the entire time I am tacking up. I probably tighten my cinch 3-4 times before I get on. This might help with the cinchy behavior.
Snug up the girth to where you are doing it now. Then brush her mane and tail, walk her out and snug up again. Stretch out her front legs and snug again. Each time just a bit and this should prevent the horse from getting cinchy again. You should be able to get your hand under the girth, but not easily. Since she was cinchy, you should probably check the girth after a 10 minute ride (at a walk) and retighten if necessary.
Seeing daylight is FAR FAR too loose. You will more than likely end up in trouble at some point as other posters have mentioned.
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