I’ve had the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth for my jumping saddle for well over a year now. As I said in a previous post, I like the idea of the girth much more than I like the girth itself. As a used purchase, it is entirely possible that mine is made from the older leather TSF used to use. I know they did a replacement program when they switched to a better leather, but, since I bought mine used, I don’t know if mine is the “good” or bad leather. I do know the one I have is stiff and a terrible orange/red color that no amount of hydrophane has managed to change.
In addition to the leather being stiff and ugly, the front center part of the girth bridges/gapes away from Nilla’s body. This means that the pressure of the girth is entirely on the back of the girth under her and along the front of the girth at the saddle attachment. Here’s a line to illustrate what I mean since this isn’t the best picture:
Given all of these issues, I’ve never loved this girth. However, as a downhill mule with huge shoulders, Nilla really needs everything I can get to help keep the saddle back.
When I saw that Total Saddle Fit had come out with a new girth with an elastic middle – the StretchTec – I was excited to try it. It seemed like this elastic middle would solve the gaping issue with the original girth while still offering the shape to help keep the saddle back. I held off on buying when until Rolex because I knew TSF was going to be there and they have a $10 off deal at Rolex. Plus, I could shove the girth in my luggage and not pay shipping.
The girth comes in neoprene or leather, but a really cool feature of the girth is that the linings can be swapped out. So you can buy one and add the other lining later. I bought the neoprene as I prefer a softer, stickier girth. A bonus for that decision is that the neoprene was cheaper. The main girth is still leather and it’s just the lining that’s neoprene. I don’t think any judge or snooty dressage spectator could possible notice that it’s not entirely leather. And even if they could, they’d be so appalled by the condition of my saddle – which actually cost less than this girth – that the girth would never be an issue.
I’ve liked how the girth fit from the moment I first tried it, but I’ve been waiting to do a review until I’d been riding in it for a while. Now that I’ve had the girth for almost two months, I thought I’d share my thoughts and opinions.
The StretchTec really solved all of the gaping issues that I had – and have read about others having – with the original shoulder relief girth. The girth hugs Nilla all along it’s entire length and width.
Even the neoprene lined girth looks great. My saddle’s billets, on the other hand, look terrible. I like how the girth hugs Nilla while the anatomical shape holds the saddle back from her elbow.
The only real complaint I have is that I should have gotten one size down. I debated getting the 24″ or the 26″. My previous girth was a 24″ and it was really hard to get on even though it had big elastics on both sides at the buckles. The TSF girth only has a little bit of elastic at the buckles, so I ended up buying the 26″. Well, the elastic in the center of the girth also stretches and that ends up making the new girth a bit too long for her. It’s so stretchy, I always end up having to tighten this girth after I’ve warmed up for a few minutes.
While I do still need to use a crupper with Nilla, I do this this girth helps. I have even used it with draw reins (which attach to the two buckles on the center of the girth) and the girth does not slide forward. This is with considerable force being applied to the girth given Nilla’s antics that necessitated the draw reins in the first place.
Girth is back, saddle is back, despite draw reins and pissed off mule. The girth obviously also works well without the side reins. I have even jumped a few times in the dressage saddle with this girth and everything stays in place.
Right now, TSF is only offering the StretchTec on their dressage girths, but I hope they will extend the technology to their jumping girths. Or maybe I’ll just buy that monoflap saddle I’ve been eyeing. I would highly recommend the StretchTec girth even to people who’ve tried the previous TSF girths and weren’t very impressed. If you did like the previous TSF girths, you’ll like this one even more. I would recommend it even if you don’t have an oddly shaped horse who needs an anatomical girth because the leather quality is great and the stretchy center and neoprene make for a very nice fit.
That is a very neat girth. It looks great on Nilla too.
That girth looks very cool! I’m happy it worked out for you and kept the saddle back.
This girth looks interesting but I was so disappointed in the others that I’ve seen and tried that I wouldn’t lnvest in one.
Glad it helps you!
It’s very helpful. I’m not sure what ones you’ve tried in the past, but you might actually like this one.
Overall I like my TSF girth. It’s not without its drawbacks though. I hope they hurry up and make this one in a short brown so I can upgrade.
The color size options are very limited at the moment.
thanks for posting a review on this, ive been very curious about the anatomical girths as most of my girths (and i own like, 7, for some reason) were cheap pieces of crap that really just hold the saddle relatively on the horse. i hate how it snugs up in the armpits when i have the saddle in the right place and i feel like the cut back sort of design frees up that area.
just an interesting concept all around.
It definitely frees up the armpit area and keeps the saddle back off the shoulder as well.
I was one of the unlucky ones who purchased the original version. I hated it so much that I think I threw it away and didn’t even try to re sell it. I love the first picture with Nilla sleeping and ignoring you.
I’m pretty sure mine is one of those originals. It’s just really crappy leather.
Nilla is such a cute mule <3
Haven’t tried a TSF girth, I have heard both good and bad. Glad this one works for you!
I’d be super interested in trying a jumping one if they come out with it. My saddle has a really forward flap and I feel like the girth never sits in quite the right place.
I hope they make the jumper one so I can replace my old one.
I’ve had mine for a month now and agree with everything you’ve said. The one thing I don’t like is that the edges of the velcro don’t perfectly seal and they are a MAGNET for horse hair. If you figure out how to clean that, let me know!
I’m not having that issue. Do you have the leather lined one or the neoprene?
The draw reins attach to the two rings in the middle, or to the leather piece that connects the two rings? I don’t entirely understand the purpose of having two center rings rather than one, when breastplates usually need to attach to one center point.
Thanks for the note that you’re having to tighten it a few minutes in. I think that’s probably a deal-breaker for me, so I’m really glad to find that out ahead of time.
I attached them to the two rings. There is a leather connector piece that you are supposed to use, but I don’t because I don’t know where I put it. And I don’t care. I might go find it if I needed to attach a breastplate/martingale.
Also, I think you could tighten it fully when getting on with a normal horse. I have to re-tighten all girths with Nilla. This one just gets more loose than others.
Interesting design! Glad it works for you and Nilla!