Girth Strap Tightness

Every time you saddle a horse, you tighten a girth. But how tight should you make that girth? Just enough to keep the saddle on? With space to slip a hand under the girth? As tight as it will go? Furthermore, how well does a horse breathe with this
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Every time you saddle a horse, you tighten a girth. But how tight should you make that girth? Just enough to keep the saddle on? With space to slip a hand under the girth? As tight as it will go? Furthermore, how well does a horse breathe with this tight band strapped around his lungs?

John Bowers, BVSc, MACVSc, and Ron F. Slocombe, BVSc, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, Chair of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, recently investigated this question in a study involving eight ex-racehorses. They found that most grooms in the Australian racing industry tighten the girths to a point that could have a detrimental effect on their charges’ performance.

Background

Studies with humans have shown that tight strapping of the chest can relieve shortness of breath at rest in patients with chronic obstructive airway disease, such as emphysema. However, this strapping impaired patients’ ability to exercise. No previous studies had been done with horses, but anecdotal evidence suggested that the same was true for horses–that a tight strap around the chest decreases performance

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Written by:

Katherine Walcott is a freelance writer living in the countryside near Birmingham, Al. She writes for anyone she can talk into paying her and rides whatever disciplines she can talk her horses into doing.

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