Review: Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Dressage Girth

Well, not as much happened with the barn as we were hoping yesterday; but they’re up and at it early this morning with a projected finish date of Friday. So, I’ve decided a review is in order.

There were two main reasons I bought this girth: it came in brown and it was leather. There was a close third: it also did not break the bank. Then there was a close fourth: it had a ring in the middle. And rounding out the top five was that it had keepers above the buckles as well as below. It was one of the few that had all five of those criteria for me. I had not even realized once I started looking that there are hardly any brown monoflap girths with all five of my specifications. At least, not if you don’t want to spend $170+ for a new one.

So, because my horse is a special snowflake and hates grippy neoprene (literally HATES it; she crowhops the whole ride), I needed either leather or fleece or something in the smooth category. I figured to just get one girth, leather, use it all the time, we’re good. So, I bought this one.

This is really an innovative girth. It’s very sturdy on the outside, made of English bridle leather. Many other reviews I read complained the outside is not soft enough, but personally, I think it’s fine. After use, it’s still very sturdy, but it gets more pliable. The underside is not as soft as I was expecting for calfskin, but it’s smooth and seems fine. The stitching was all well-done, and every time I’ve cleaned it, it’s shined right up very quickly.

What this girth is supposed to do is help horses with forward girth grooves that don’t “line up” with the billets where a saddle wants to sit – behind the shoulder blades. The result you get from a straight girth is that the saddle will inevitably either be placed too far forward onto the withers/shoulders or the forward girth groove will “pull” a saddle forward. Both result in pinching the horse’s shoulder blades and impinging movement. This girth allows the middle part to sit in the forward girth groove, while the buckles are set a few inches back to allow the saddle to fit comfortably behind the shoulder and allow for greater freedom of movement of the shoulder. This girth really proved to be beneficial when I tried out a demo saddle that was just a size too small for Amber. It sat right in her girth groove and kept the saddle from inching forward onto her shoulders.

I swear the girth is there….

I love the two sets of keepers on each side. I just had this vision of the billets somehow moving and they’d end up pinching her skin badly. So, that’s why I wanted the keepers there. Plus it’s a cinch to tighten the girth while mounted (pun intended). The elastic feels sturdy but with plenty of snap, and I really like the clean look of it. The buckles are also roller buckles, which is a must in my opinion.

Amber did like this girth. She went well in it and it worked great for the too-small saddle. She was definitely more relaxed when I used it, but I think it’s because the saddle, although still too small, fit better than my mom’s saddle which is a medium-wide tree. But her back is not that long. It’s short so there’s very limited space on how far back her saddle can go. Once we got our new fitted saddle, I felt like the girth and the saddle ended up fighting each other.

The saddle wants to fit in that nice little pocket behind her shoulder, the pocket she was fitted for, and the girth wanted to push the saddle back. In the end, the girth sat too far forward, and while she didn’t develop any rubs, she might have if I’d used it longer than about 5 rides. So, while I like the girth, now that I have a saddle that fits her perfectly, the girth is no longer needed.

I would still rate it 3.5 stars. It’s innovative, well-made, and has relatively quality leather for the retail price of $129.95. And, if you have Prime, you can find the girth on Amazon and get free shipping. You can also get it with free shipping from Riding Warehouse. It has held up beautifully as I’ve used it, Amber has sweat buckets on it, and every time it cleans up well and looks new. All close up photos of the girth were just the other day, after approximately 3 months of continuous use and a good cleaning. So even though it didn’t work out for Amber, I think it will for many other horses – specifically with a very long shoulder and a forward girth groove.

If you would like to read another person’s perspective on the girth, AJ Dyer wrote a review that was published on Eventing Nation, and she had more horses to try it on than I did so she could really see how it worked. She writes a very thorough review about the TSF girths and how they worked for her horses.

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