Breastplates or Breastgirths?

I`m having a dilemma with Otis and his saddle slippage at the moment, so want lots of suggestions.

His jump saddle has always slipped back, partly due to his large shoulders, and partly due to the fact he has a very rangy figure when fit. Last week he had his jump saddle reflocked, so now I`m in the perfect position to assess the effectiveness of his breastplate.

I`ve always used a martingale to jump, so the obvious first step was to try a hunting breastplate. I`ve always liked the discreet leather work of the hunting breastplate, however when we started jumping bigger fences and Otis got fitter I found myself sliding backwards, especially up steep hills!

So last year I researched the market, and came across the V-Check breastplate. This has a leather central strap between the front legs, and then strong elastic straps to the d-rings on the saddle. Now I thought this would work well for Otis as it is fitted a bit tighter than the leather breastplate because the elastic has some grip. However, this breastplate caused the pommel of my saddle to pull down onto Otis`s withers, and then pop up at the back. So I added the bridging leather strap, which connects the elastic straps over the wither so that it resembles a hunting breastplate. It is better now, but I have to admit that I am always repositioning my saddle before I get on as a marginally loose girth still allows it to slide back slightly.

Now I`m thinking about the five point breastplate; it attaches to the girth just below the saddle flap as well as the d-rings, so I think this would reduce the downwards pressure on the saddle. However, these are rather expensive to trial so I might have to sweet talk a friend into lending me one. But what does everyone else think of them – are they that effective?

So far I`ve mainly considered the combination breastplates as I need the martingale element, however I`m beginning to think that by combining the function of two piecese of tack into one, the functionality is reduced. Which means I might be better off purchasing a breast girth and separate martingale. However, I worry about the fit of the two pieces of tack – will one cause the other to rub? 

 Breastgirths are pieces of elastic that run around the chest of the horse, attaching to either the d-rings or the girth. Logic dictates  that I would be better off with one that attaches lower down, and I worry that the showjumping breast girth can put pressure on the gullet and windpipe.. You can also get breastgirths with a leather piece that attaches over the wither, which I guess helps keep the breatgirth horizontal and at the correct height. Then I could put a running martingale over the top of it. Has anyone any experience of breast girths, and are they effective?

Then I look online and there`s such a huge range of combination breastpates, including one I`ve never seen before – the bridge breastplate – but non of them explain why they work better than others! It`s a minefield!

Answers on a postcard please.


6 thoughts on “Breastplates or Breastgirths?

  1. nbohl October 20, 2015 / 7:52 pm

    I have a bridge breastplate, doesn’t put any pressure on my guys big withers like the ones who attach to the Dee rings do

    • therubbercurrycomb October 20, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      Thanks 🙂 I hadn’t seen one of them before so will definitely be researching it more.

  2. The Thrifty Equestrian October 20, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    I LOVE my five-point breastplate! I haven’t noticed any loss of functionality when I do add a martingale (which, granted, is infrequently). I really do think that it distributes the pressure more evenly – because of the way the elastic is positioned. My other friend uses strictly the hunt style breastplates because she spends most of her time actually in the hunt field, where tradition really matters.

    I’ve also heard good things about the bridge breastplates! I would try sweet-talking friends into loaning you different ones to try. Or try buying them used! That’s a great way to get a nice piece of tack without breaking the bank!

  3. firnhyde October 21, 2015 / 7:06 am

    Have you tried a non-slip pad, perhaps? I have a mutton-withered mare whose saddle used to slide forward a lot, but the problem disappeared when I bought a new, professionally fitted saddle (you might even be familiar with the make – a Kent and Masters!). I know your saddle has been professionally fitted, though.

    • therubbercurrycomb October 22, 2015 / 1:23 pm

      I love my Kent and masters dressage saddle! I have a non slip girth and tried a pad but no avail :/
      My jump saddle is a thorowgood which uses the same tree as k and m which was why I chose it and I couldn’t afford a k and m jump saddle 😦 next year maybe!

      • firnhyde October 23, 2015 / 5:53 pm

        K&M are so expensive… just worth every penny! I have the Pony Jump saddle because they don’t make proper jumping saddles in my size, LOL. Would love a dressage one but alas too poor. If only we lived nearby and could share!

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