Earlier this week I rode a horse in her brand spanking new Fairfax girth.
Have you seen these?
Have you touched one?
Have you ridden in one?
I hadn’t, until now. Yeah, of course I`d heard of them – they were kept top secret until after the London Olympics as they were hoped to be Team GB`s secret weapon.
Anyway, you can feel the quality. You can smell the quality of the leather. It`s made of top-quality leather, which is lovely and supple, and there are several leather loops for martingale and side reins to be attached. Each girth even has a serial number stamped on, and a little arrow pointing towards the front of the girth.
The girths are well cushioned, which gives them quite a lot of bulk, which was the problem a friend found with her side saddle – by the time the two other girths have been fitted. The Fairfax girths are cushioned by Prolite, which is often used in riser pads as it distributes pressure evenly, absorbs impact, and doesn`t rub easily. These girths were even tested by Centaur Biomechanics to analyse the pressure on the working horse.
The Fairfax girths claim that the design allows the Prolite cushioning to “float”, which allows the horse to move more freely. However, both my friend and I found the girth to be very heavy, despite it`s luxurious feel.
Research has also shown that the horse has a reduced gait asymmetry when wearing a Fairfax girth, and a wider range of movement.
You can see from these girths that they are contoured. This is to avoid the pressure points just behind the elbow – where all the girth galls form – and allows the muscles to move freely.
I gulped at the price of these girths – £220-290 – and I have to say I didn`t feel a massive improvement in the way the horse I rode went, but she tends to be a bit wibbly wobbly and doesn`t always go forwards to the contact, so she may not be in the position, with her training, to give me consistent comparisons. I also wasn`t fussed on the extra weight the horse had to carry.
However, I think there is a lot to be said about girths with a contour fit. I`ve seen a huge number of horses recently, particularly those that are clipped, with slight rubs from their girths. I always pull Otis`s forelegs forwards before I get on to reduce the chance of rubbing, as do many of my clients. Hopefully when their summer coats grow through the horse`s will have more protection on these pressure points. I have seen photos of horses competing who have clipped out, leaving the girth area, as well as the spur square commonly seen, which is a good preventative. But there are plenty of other girths on the market which have similar contour design that are much more competitively priced that I think I would be just as interested in trying.
Has anyone used a Fairfax girth, and what are their thoughts on them?