Sensitive Girth area, Girth rubbing, Girth galls?

Some horses can be very sensitive when the girth is done up.

This can be just simply that the girth is cold and can be a bit of a shock to the sensitive skin in the girth area. Girth sensitivity can also be caused by the girth pinching when being tightened, or it is possible that your girth is rubbing and creating a sore spot or ‘girth gall’ when the horse is moving.

Girth sores and galls are extremely painful for your horse and it is essential that you stop riding altogether until the area has completely healed.

You will probably have heard of the expression ‘No foot, no horse’, well, the same can be said for the girth. A sore in the girth area cannot heal while you are still riding and you could be waiting a long time while your horse heals properly. Prevention is better than cure.

What causes a girth gall

Girth galls are caused when the girth rubs; either because it does not fit correctly or from a pressure point. A girth not suited to your horses shape can move, whilst you are riding, causing friction. A dirty girth (sweat/mud encrusted) traps the dirt particles against the horses skin causing pressure points. A dirty girth is also often stiff which will also cause friction and discomfort when the horse moves. Dirt/mud, sweat on your horse will cause the same problem.
Sensitive and thin skinned horses will also be more prone and sometimes conformation can play a part; horses that stand upright at the shoulder and horses with wide torsos and forward girth groove (this causes the girth to sit too close to their elbows)

Recognising a girth gall

Your first indication that there could be a problem will be slight rubs marks and small areas where just the hair is missing. As soon as you notice this sign, you will need to take preventative action to stop this area developing into a gall. An actual girth gall is recognisable as a swelling or small lump in the girth area, often behind the elbow. These lumps often feel warm to the touch and fluid can be felt under the skin, similar to a blister before it has burst. If  left untreated the gall will develop into an open sore.
In the early stages, before the gall has turned into an open wound, you can aid the healing process by applying cold compresses several times a day to help reduce the swelling and stop the build up fluid. If the sore has already become an open wound, the wound will need to be kept clean and clear of infection until healed. There are many creams and lotions that can be used, like purple gentian spray, Ichthammol, Desitincalendular lotion, aloe vera or zinc oxide paste.

Preventative measures

Always use good quality, well fitted tack.
Always ensure the girth is clean, soft and supple to avoid pressure points or rubbing.
Make sure your horse has been groomed properly and than no dirt, mud etc can be trapped between the girth and his skin.
If using a new girth, ride for short periods of time to ensure the girth is suitable and not causing any pressure points, also allowing the skin in the girth area a chance to harden up. Likewise for horses coming back into work after a rest period, ride only for a short length of time.

Bathing with salt water several times per day for a few days can help to toughen up the skin. This is a good idea for sensitive/thin skinned horses and also for horses coming back into work after a rest period.
Some people find that lifting and pulling each foreleg forward after girthing up can help to ensure the girth is not sitting too close to the elbow.

Girth Solutions

Horse Dream Sheepskin/Lambskin girths offer very good solution to all these problems.
Sheepskin girths are warm at first touch and will eliminate sensitivity issues almost immediately. Likewise, a sheepskin girth will not pinch when tightened. It may take a couple of times before your horse is sure he will not be pinched, but once he realises that this is no longer a painful procedure, he will quickly forget his last experiences.

For a cheaper alternative, you can use a girth sleeve. This sleeve will fit over your existing girth. There are many different shapes and styles to fit most girths. The Saddlery Shop hold a large selection of girth sleeves from brands including Griffin Nuumed, Shires and Kincade.

Sheepskin has been used by man for thousands of years for clothing and bedding. Durable and warm, we use still use these products today. Sheepskin has a great diversity of use and is used in the manufacture of many products, from: coats, body warmers, boots and hats, car seats covers, baby cot liners, bed liners for the elderly, thermotherapy products, cat and dog beds and also in the equestrian business.

A process known as medical tanning, ensures that the sheepskin can be washed and tumble dried at low temperatures, increasing its practical uses. Specially formulated sheepskin/lambskin detergents should always be used to ensure the natural oils are not washed away, thus extending the life of your products and keeping the fleece soft and supple.

Sheepskin products are very hard wearing and easy to keep clean. The scaly structure of the wool fibre repels dirt and possesses natural self-cleaning properties. Regular shaking out and airing of the lambskin neutralises odours and helps the wool stay fresh. The fleece consists entirely of proteins; Protein does not provide a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. The sheepskin also has anti-bacterial properties and protects the skin, making it an ideal material to use in the manufacture of equestrian girths.

Horsedream Sheepskin girths provide ideal pressure distribution, eliminating friction and shear forces, thus providing maximum comfort for your horse. Naturally the highest breath-ability/ventilation of any material used against a horses skin; the fleece creates a natural air cushion between the fibres allowing air flow which helps to balance temperature, reducing sweat in this area. Sheepskin girths can also absorb up to three times their own weight in moisture. Horsedream Sheepskin girths are highly shock absorbing and help prevent rubbing and bruising, chafing, pressure sores and girth galls.

Horse Dream UK offer a range of different shaped girths designed to suit your horses shape:
The straight edged girth offers is suitable for most horses and with the sheepskin extending beyond the edge of the girth, ensures there are no pressure points.
Contoured girth are cut away behind the elbow, ensuring full, free movement for your horse. Particularly good for horses prone to girth galls behind the elbow and horses with a large gait/movement.
The Half moon/banana shape girth is probably the most anatomically shaped girth on the market and also help to stop the saddle slipping forward on horses with strong, far back reaching shoulders, round belly line and/or a forward girth groove.

The Horsedream range is manufactured by Christ Lammfelle in Germany, who specialise in ‘medical tanned’ sheepskin products (No chemicals are used in their tanning process) Christ Lammfelle are famous world-wide for producing the highest grade sheepskin used for Equestrian products. This same quality is supplied by them for medical products in hospitals and also home use for the bed-ridden and disabled!
Sheepskin products that have not been ‘medically tanned’ can still hold chemicals that are absorbed by your horse when it sweats!!! so it is important to do a little research and always choose a good ‘brand’ when buying sheepskin products for your horse.

Horse Dream UK – Ultimate comfort for Horse and Rider

Easy to care for
Wait until dry and just brush off any mud, sweat, dirt etc. This cuts down on the frequency of washing. When washing is required, they can be machine washed and tumble dried at low temperatures.

So whether you are wanting to treat an existing problem or wanting to prevent one, the sheepskin girth is the ideal solution.

The Horse Dream UK Sheepskin Girth range:

Horse Dream UK Genuine Sheepskin Girths

Half moon/Banana Dressage girth





Horse Dream UK Genuine Sheepskin Girths

Contoured Dressage girth


Horse Dream UK Genuine Sheepskin Girths

Contoured long girth/regular girth






Horse Dream UK Genuine Sheepskin Girths






Straight edged Long Girth


Horse Dream UK Genuine Sheepskin Girths and Cinches

Western Contoured cinch/girth

Horse Dream UK Genuine Sheepskin Girths and Cinches

Western straight edged cinch/girth

Cleaning products available at Horse Dream UK

Horse Dream UK Sheepskin brush

Sheespkin brush brushes off any dirt or mud and keeps the fleece fluffy

Horse Dream UK Sheepskin detergent. C7 250ml

Sheepskin/lambskin detergent available in 250ml and 500ml bottles

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