From Endurance to Dressage
My Arabians have always been thin-skinned. They're picky about what touches their skin, and since a lot of materials will rub a hole right through their flesh, I respect their choosiness.
Endurance riders use a lot of synthetic materials out of necessity. Endurance horses sweat copious amounts, hour after hour. Tack gets wet when riders sponge their hot horses. Tack gets rained on when riders cover mile after mile of trail, heedless of the weather. Leather tack just can't stand up to that kind of abuse.
Even so, there were two pieces of tack that I used that had to be from natural fibers: my saddle pad and girth. For years, I found that mohair or fleece girths were the only things that wouldn't rub my horses raw, and natural wool pads kept my horses' backs cooler and pain free.
When I made the switch to dressage, I kept Speedy in a synthetic fleece girth which he still uses. I liked it so well that I purchased one for Sydney as well. It was in such good condition when Sydney left that I was able to use it on Izzy. While it fits him perfectly, I am having the same problem that endurance riders have: Izzy sweats an unbelievable amount which makes the girth really gross after only two or three rides.
I finally decided to see if my big brown horse is as sensitive as Speedy. I gave the Riding Warehouse a quick search and found the Ovation Airform Synthetic Chafless Dressage Girth. For $34.79 (I had a discount code but had to pay shipping), it was worth a gamble.
There isn't anything that I don't like about the girth, and more importantly, Izzy is going just fine in it. Ovation must use a basic pattern because the Airform has very similar billet keepers and roller buckles as the fleece girth - both of which I love. Both buckle ends have elastic, also a must-have for girthy horses.
The one thing about the girth that surprised me was how lightweight it is. I expected something a bit more substantial. Even so, it doesn't feel cheap or flimsy, and I like how it maintains its position. It doesn't slip or slide around, and when I unbuckle it, it seems to release a gentle grip.
Although it could have been a terrible idea, I actually used it for the first time at the Christian Schacht Clinic. If the girth was going to cause any trouble, it would have been under those conditions. But nope. Six rides later and Izzy is as comfortable in the Airform as he was in the fleece.
The best thing about the girth, and the primary reason that I selected it, is that it can be hosed off with no drying time. While I haven't needed to hose it off after every ride, it's been doused at least twice already and looks as good as new.
While Izzy might not care that his girth is no longer hard and crunchy, I like that it's clean and pliable. I swear; is there anything that I haven't replaced for this horse? Wait. Don't answer that; I don't need any ideas!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: