Photo by David Genadek © 2008

Pads and Girths

Nip the Grip!

Elizabeth Graves© 2010

  Every year in my work with folks and their horses I run into people that have had the very bad experience of being thrown from their horses due to gripping pads and girths. Not all horses will react in such a volatile manner, it's amazing just how stoic these horses can be, but that damage and/or discomfort can certainly still be present.
  Since I'm such a research nut I did my homework on this and in conferring with a number of Veterinarians on just what is happening here is that the Fascia, that membrane the attaches the skin to the muscle gets torn away.
  Detaching the skin in turn makes it even more moveable beyond the limits of what the Fascia attachments limits would normally allow. Not only is this painful and certainly can interfere with any horse's performance due to this discomfort .The healing time for the Fascia to re attach without riding the horse it can take 1-3 months for healing and reattachment to occur, with riding it won't.

  So why are they so popular? The most popular reason is obviously to reduce or eliminate slippage or movement of saddles. A little slide in pads and girths without being slippery is desirable so this grabbing of the skin does not happen.
   It's just a quick fit to other problems, kind of like the myth' can't control your horse, get a bigger bit". What should be done is to evaluate what the reason for slippage and movement of the saddle is happening in the first place.

List of Reasons
1.Saddle not fitting
2.Rigging of saddle incorrect
3.Improper placement of saddle
4.Improper positioning of saddle
5.Poor equitation practices
6.Rider mounting improperly in dragging themselves on to the horse instead of using proper impulsion of one's body or a mounting block.

It's very easy to be confused and miss led in the world of marketing and often it's what the uneducated consumer demands so of course money and profits are going to motive a manufacturer and retailer to step up and provide what is asked for.
As I always I hope what's good for the horse is more important than what you need for one's self without thought of the ramifications that could come from incomplete thought process of the actions and results of what we desire.

Other factors to consider in pads and girths:
Both should perform with breathability, keeping the body of the horse as cool as possible and wick away sweat. Many girths and pads are made of petroleum products today having a rubbery texture which in turn cannot perform of the any of these desired factors. Some horses can show sensitivity also to these products that cant not functions as a good pad and girth should, galling, and heat bumps can be evident.
My personal experience with none of these side effects and comfort to the horse is natural fiber products.
4xz m,When a horse is in discomfort or pain one cannot expect  a horse to perform at peek. We know that distractions such as lack of comfort from  itching, burning, over sweating, and pain distract the mind from being on the task asked from the handler/rider. It's not uncommon just as in signs of a poor fitting saddle or bad experience with riding for a horse to give the physical/emotional signals of resistance.

Take some time, watch how products perform while being used on horses at reasonable expected amounts of time, before  purchase. Think through what draw backs and positive reasonable effects a product can have on a horse, and finally make the decision for the horse first.

I don't always listen to a lot of people without seeing evidence of performance myself. I commonly see those that have committed to product for so many human related reasons other than true performance, be it peer pressure, marketing beliefs, having vested interest in the product such as sales. Just because a large number of the population uses something does not make it a good performer. Good example most people pay their taxes but it does not mean that money paid in is performing well.