Britain’s secret weapon: the girth that helped win Olympic gold

  • A new girth being launched today (Thursday 30 August) at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is set to revolutionise the way riders think about girths.

    At the beginning of 2011 the British Equestrian Federation, through the World Class Performance programme, were involved in the testing of a new design of girth that they felt was so influential on a horse’s performance they asked the manufacturers, Fairfax Saddles, to hold the launch until after the London 2012 to prevent details leaking to our rivals.

    Tested by our Olympic eventers and dressage riders and used for Olympic competition by several team members including Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mary King, this girth is now available to the general public.

    This girth claims to:

    • reduce peak pressure testing by as much as 85%
    • increase fore and hind limb extension
    • improve symmetry of movement

    and it’s all backed by months of scientific testing using Pliance pressure pads (usually used to measure pressure undersaddles) and gait analysis by Centaur Biomechanics.

    So how is the Fairfax Performance Girth different from others on the market? Vanessa Fairfax of Fairfax Saddles discovered using Pliance testing that the peak pressure points beneath a girth are not on the sternum, as previously thought, but just behind the elbow.

    She designed a girth that is cut back dramatically behind the elbow and also has what she describes as a “floating edge” — a soft edge that guides the muscles in that area back beneath the girth rather than blocking them as many traditional girths do.

    However, for the moment, you’ll have to be prepared to fork out £220- £390 to own a girth from the range — unless you take advantage of a 10% discount available to H&H readers in today’s magazine. The girth comes in long or short (dressage), long stud guard or short stud girth options.

    To understand how this girth works, read about what it can do and to take advantage of your discount offer, see today’s Horse & Hound.

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