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Cinched, Not Pinched: 8 Most Comfortable Girths for Horses

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Written by Ali S.

Discover the most comfortable girths and cinches

Having a proper fitting girth is essential for your horse to reach its peak performance. An ill-fitting girth can cause pressure, irritation, and limit your horse’s movement. It is important to make sure your horse’s girth fits well to avoid any discomfort.

Here are the 8 most comfortable girths and cinches discussed in this article:

Girth Category Summary
Professionals Choice SMX Girth

(English)

Best All-Around English Girth
  • Waffle-patterned neoprene has a four-way stretch and is a comfortable choice for basic English riding on the flat or over small jumps.
Horze Belly Guard Girth

(English)

Best Jumping Girth (with stud guard)
  • This anatomical jumping girth with stud guard is well padded with elastic straps at both ends.
HDR Contoured Leather Girth

(English)

Best Jumping Girth (without stud guard)
  • If you’re jumping, but don’t need a stud guard, this anatomical girth is high on comfort.
Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Dressage Girth

(English)

Best Dressage Girth
  • Perfect for horses who need unrestricted movement for dressage, this short girth as a padded calfskin lining.
Weaver Leather Felt Lined Smart Cinch

(Western)

Best All-Around Western Cinch
  • This nylon and felt combination wicks away sweat and prevents rubbing.
Mustang Pro-Roller Mohair Blend Roper Cinch

(Western)

Best Western Roper Cinch
  • Supple with some “give” as your horse moves, this cinch is (as the name implies) popular with ropers.
Professionals Choice Mohair Straight Cinch

(Western)

Best Mohair Western Cinch
  • Soft and strong, mohair girths are durable and comfortable on your horse’s skin.
Total Saddle Fit – Shoulder Relief Cinch 

(Western)

Best Contoured Western Cinch (Shoulder Relief)
  • Though contoured cinches are rare, this is a great option for Western riders who want an anatomical fit.

Buying great tack is one thing. Remembering to pack it in the trailer is another! Check out our Ultimate Packing & Horse Trailering List

Getting Real About Girths

Whether you ride english or western, it is important to have a proper fitting girth (or cinch).

  • Long Girths: For long girths (e.g. jumper, hunter, flatwork), make sure your girth buckles don’t land in a position that irritates your knees under the saddle flaps.
  • Short Girths: For short girths (e.g. dressage, some monoflap jump saddles), you want a width of 3-4 fingers between the bottom of the saddle pad and top of the girth.
  • Western Cinch: When using a western cinch, your cinch rings should be higher than your horses elbow to avoid interference and rubbing.

Finally, the Attention They Deserve

The Fairfax Performance Girth has been a revolutionary advancement in girths, and many riders are considering the importance of girth fit and comfort for the first time.

Fairfax has done a lot of research to prove how proper girth design/fit can increase a horse’s performance and reduce pressure by up to 82%, increase range of movement by 33%, and eliminate gait asymmetry.

The downside? Fairfax girths are quite pricey. The upside? This article showcases 8 alternatives that prioritize comfort, but at a lower cost. So, no matter your budget, you’ll be able to keep your horse happy and healthy.

Click here to jump to our English girth section

Click here to jump to our Western cinch section

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Common Types of Girths

There are many different girths available, depending on your horse’s needs. Girths come in a variety of different materials including leather, neoprene, wool, vinyl, synthetic, string (mohair), and webbing.

Many girths have elastic on both ends, making for easier tightening. For hunter/jumpers, it is common to use girths with built in belly guards that protect the horse’s chest from their front hooves over fences.

Your girth is only one piece of your equipment equation. Learn about the Common Types of English Bits

Click here to jump to our English girth section

Click here to jump to our Western cinch section

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How to Choose a Girth

The discipline you ride will influence the best girth for your horse.

  • For hunter/jumpers, brown leather girths or fleece girths are most often used in the show ring.
  • In dressage, short, black leather girths are most common.
  • In saddle seat, white patent leather or vinyl girths are often used in showing.
  • For western disciplines, black neoprene and mohair cinches are commonly used for competing.
  • Neoprene and wool girths are generally used when training or for pleasure riding.

Click here to jump to our English girth section

Click here to jump to our Western cinch section

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Most Comfortable English Girths

Best All-Around Girth

The Professionals Choice SMX Girth is a great option for an all-around girth. The waffle-patterned neoprene offers four-way stretch that provides comfort and support for your horse.

comfortable-english-girth

Click to see it on State Line Tack

This girth features elastic on each side and roller side buckles, for easy tightening. It is easy to maintain and won’t absorb sweat, so it’s ideal for everyday riding and showing.

PROS:

  • The neoprene provides comfort and support.
  • It does not rub or irritate.
  • It’s durable.

CONS:

  • The sizing can be a bit off, so you may want to order two and keep the one that fits best.

Read Customer Reviews on State Line Tack

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Best Jumping Girth (With Stud Guard)

The Horze Belly Guard girth is padded to keep your horse protected from studded shoes while jumping. This stud guard girth is leather and has elastic at both ends.

Click to see it on Amazon

It includes a D ring and buckles so you can attach your breast collar or martingale. This stylish girth is a great option for the show ring.

PROS:

  • It is very padded.
  • It offers protection from studded shoes.
  • It is made from high quality leather.

CONS:

  • It can show signs of wear over time, so proactively clean it after each ride if possible.

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

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Best Jumping Girth (Without Stud Guard)

The HDR Contoured Leather Girth is designed to allow your horse to have free movement in the shoulder and elbow. It is made with supple leather to provide comfort and style.

It has elastic on both ends and includes roller buckles, making it simple to tighten.

Click to see it on Amazon

PROS:

  • Provides comfort for your horse’s elbows and shoulders.
  • The supple leather makes it comfortable and stylish for the show ring.
  • It is durable.

CONS:

  • It can run on the smaller side, so order up a bit.

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

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Love jumping? Learn about our 10 Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (And Staying Safe).

Best Dressage Girth

The Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Dressage Girth is designed to keep your horse’s shoulders free from girth pain and interference.

Click to see it on Amazon

It is made from high quality leather with padded calf skin lining that is easy to clean and keeps sweat away. The girth is also available in antimicrobial synthetic.

PROS: 

  • Gives your horse shoulder relief.
  • The padded calf skin is comfortable.
  • The synthetic material is antimicrobial.

CONS: 

  • Its design does not fit all horses. 

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

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Most Comfortable Western Girths

Best All-Around Western Cinch

The Weaver Leather Felt Lined Smart Cinch with Roll Snug Cinch Buckle is the perfect all-around western cinch. It is nylon with felt lining to provide ultimate comfort for your horse. The felt wicks away sweat and helps prevent rubs.

Click to see it on Amazon

Its effective design is easy to use while allowing your horse to preform at its peak. It is a great cinch for showing or pleasure.

PROS:

  • This cinch provides comfort and support.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It is durable.

CONS:

  • The felt can be difficult to clean.

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

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Hitting the trails? Check out our 6 Best Saddle Pads for Trail Riding (And Happy Horses) first.

Best Roper Western Cinch

The Mustang Pro-Roller Mohair Blend Roper Cinch features 27 strands, sewn leather center, and pro roller buckles. This hand strung cinch is designed to provide comfort and allow your horse to move freely.

Click to see it on Amazon

It is soft yet durable, with elasticity in the strands. This is the ideal roper cinch.

PROS:

  • The mohair blend provides comfort.
  • It is durable.
  • The pro-roller makes it easy to use.

CONS: 

  • It is possible to shrink because different cords have varying elasticity.

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

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Best Mohair Western Cinch

The Professionals Choice Mohair Straight Cinch is a top choice for its durable handcrafted design. This cinch is made from 27 all-natural mohair fibers that are both soft and strong, providing lasting comfort for your horse.

Click to see it on Amazon

This cinch allows your horse to stay dry from sweat and free from chaffing.

PROS:

  • This girth is soft and durable.
  • It is great for sensitive horses.
  • It keeps sweat away.

CONS:

  • Mohair has natural elasticity, so this cinch may stretch out a little.

Read Customer Reviews on Amazon

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Your horse isn’t the only one who should be comfortable. Check out our 7 Most Comfortable Boots for Walking.

Best Contoured Western Cinch (Shoulder Relief)

The Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Cinch provides the comfort your horse needs while being high quality. Its contoured design provides shoulder and elbow relief, while allowing your saddle to fit better.

This cinch is made from top grade leather and comes with a removable neoprene lining (also available in fleece for an additional cost).

Click to see it on Amazon

It provides excellent support and comfort, even for the most sensitive of horses. It is a popular choice for gaited horses, as it allows them to move freely.

PROS:

  • It provides shoulder and elbow relief.
  • It is great for sensitive horses.
  • It provides support and comfort while letting your horse move freely.

CONS:

  • It is more expensive than many cinches because of its anatomical design.

Where to buy it: Total Saddle Fit – Shoulder Relief Cinch – Western Cinch

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a girth and a cinch?

A girth is used for English riding, whereas a cinch is used for Western.

Structure-wise, they’re similar but not identical. A girth has two buckles on each end that fasten to the billets (i.e. girth straps) under the saddle flap. A cinch remains fastened to the saddle on one side and has a buckle on the other side that a long strap (i.e. latigo) loops through to fasten it.

What size girth do I need for my horse?

To figure out what size girth your horse needs, follow this guide.

Why are dressage girths shorter?

Dressage girths are designed to be shorter than other English girths so riders do not have any bulk or discomfort from the billets and girth being underneath their legs while riding.

What is girth size?

It’s the measurement used to figure out what size girth is the right size for your horse. Girth sizes vary based how big your horse is and on what type of saddle you are using.

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How long should a dressage girth be?

Generally, when selecting a Dressage girth, you can subtract 20 inches off whatever long English girth size you use. Most dressage girths range from a size 20 to 34 inches.

What is the proper girth placement?

A horse’s girth should run where the horse’s “heart girth” is, which is an area approximately four inches behind the elbow under the belly.

What is the most humane girth?

Contoured girths provide a humane and comfortable ride for your horse. The contoured design provides shoulder and elbow relief so movement isn’t restricted.

What is a girth on a saddle?

The girth is the piece of long, skinny tack that holds the saddle in place.

Do you measure a girth from buckle to buckle?

Yes, a girth is measured from buckle to buckle.

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How do you measure a girth for a western saddle?

To find out what size cinch your horse needs, place your saddle pad and saddle on your horse. Measure from the one rigging ring (i.e. the metal ring attached to the bottom of the main saddle area), under the belly, and to the other rigging ring.

Take that measurement and subtract 16 inches.

Which way does an anatomic girth go?

The cutback portion (that is designed for elbow comfort) should curve away from the front legs to allow free elbow movement.

Here is a helpful video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n04g-z4rAGA]

What’s the best cinch for sensitive horses?

Mohair cinches are a great choice for horses that are girthy and sensitive. Mohair is soft and provides comfort and support for sensitive horses.

The Professionals Choice Mohair Straight is ideal for horses who experience sensitivity from girths.

What’s the best cinch for barrel racing?

The Total Saddle Fit – Shoulder Relief Cinch is a top choice amongst many barrel racers. Its contoured design allows for the agile barrel racing horse to move freely.

It keeps your saddle in place and keeps your horse comfortable.

What’s the best english girth overall?

Try the Professionals Choice SMX Girth. It’s got four-way stretch and is a comfy choice for basic riding on the flat or over fences.

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What’s the best western cinch overall?

Go with the Weaver Leather Felt Lined Smart Cinch. The nylon and felt combo wicks away sweat and prevents rubbing under your horse’s belly.

What’s the most comfortable dressage girth?

The Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth is a great option. It frees your horse’s shoulders, ensure elbow clearance, and has a comfy calf skin inside lining.

What’s the best anatomical girth?

For dressage riders, the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth is a top choice. 

If you’re looking for an all purpose or jumping option instead, there’s good news. Total Saddle Fit makes a version for you too!

What’s the best cinch for trail riding?

The Professionals Choice Mohair Straight Cinch is a great choice for trail riders who want to keep their horses happy all day. It’s soft, durable, sweat-wicking, and is perfect for sensitive horses.

Be sure to check out our article about the best saddle pads for trail riding too.

What’s the best dressage girth for sensitive horses?

In addition to the Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Dressage Girth, you may also want to try their StetchTec Shoulder Relief Girth. This model allows you to interchange liners, adds a stretch elastic panel in the middle, and provides the free shoulder movement Total Saddle Fit is known for.

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What’ the best anatomical western cinch?

Total Saddle Fit’s Contoured Western Cinch is one of few anatomical options available for non-english riders.

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Picking a Comfy Girth is a Cinch

No matter what discipline you ride, a proper fitting girth is vital for your horse’s comfort and performance. There are several different styles and materials to choose from, depending on your horse’s preferences and the discipline you ride.

The right girth can make all the difference for your horse, and now you’ve got 8 great options to consider!

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About the author

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Ali S.

When I'm not taking equine science and nutrition courses or researching articles about rider fitness, you'll find me riding, driving, and showing my two Morgan horses. I also write for the Missouri Horse Shows Association and have earned a Saddleseat Road Hack National Championship!