Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ovation Airoform All Purpose Girth Review

As I'm sure many riders can sympathize, having to deal with girths is a bit of a pain in the butt. They always seem to be different lengths, even when they say they are the same length, they are easy to make wrong (with fuzzy stuff that warps outward, with too stiff leather, with elastic that stretches out too much), and they just aren't the most fun piece of tack to deal with. So when I started looking into girths I was not at all excited and I was a reluctant shopper. I didn't know what I wanted exactly, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money or get something that was poorly made.

After a lot of browsing around online, I found the Ovation All-Purpose Airform Chafeless Girth. There were several things that stood out to me from that really kinda ridiculously long name. Firstly, I know that Ovation is a very reputable brand, my trainer has it on her list of good companies to buy things from. Secondly, the airform aspect interested me because it sounded like it wouldn't be hot (heat wave here in Oregon). Lastly, the chafeless aspect of the girth seemed like a good idea. I have used a girth maybe once or twice in my life that did chafe the horse I was riding, but generally, I have not experienced any chafing problems, but it seemed like something to be safe instead of sorry about.
After I found the AP Airform Chafeless Girth I did toy around with the idea of getting the Ovation Airform Click-It Chafeless Style Girth, but when I looked at reviews it seemed that people were having trouble with the click-it aspect of this girth. Also, it was more expensive than the non-Click-It girth, and so I went with the cheaper option. It ended up only costing me $30 on Amazon which is a very decent price.
I ordered the girth in brown (hoping and praying that it would match the saddle I have been using). After testing it out, I have to say that it is not the same color as the saddle that I might buy and have been using, it is a darker brown. It is actually a closer match to my bridle which is a Havanna brown. The nylon-y material has almost a red hue in it as you can see in the pictures so that might also make it hard to color-match. The girth also comes in black.
Casey's girth size varies according to the girth and the saddle, but generally, she ranges between 50" and 54". I decided to order a 52" because it is in the middle. It is really hard for me to say if it runs true to size because all of the lesson girths at my barn are from different companies and they all vary in size so I don't know which is the truest sized girth to compare to. What I can say is that this girth fits Casey with all of the saddles that I have tried. My guess is then that it runs pretty true to size.
The girth itself is made out of a really interesting material (the Airoform). It is almost spongy in consistency and has a lot of little holes throughout to allow airflow. The Airoform is really soft and malleable (no stiffness at all). It is also supposed to be hypoallergenic. I cannot say how it feels for the horse (because I can't read her mind), but I would imagine that it feels a lot nicer than a stiff leather girth.
The girth also has two long stretches of nylon-y material that create a curved pattern around the girth. These are single-stitched and do stand out from the Airoform. I don't quite know what their functionality is - maybe to hold the Airoform softer material together? - but it does make the girth look interesting.
The buckles on the girth are stainless steel roller buckles. They are really easy to use, roll nicely, and so far do not make any squeaky noises. There is only elasticized inserts on one side, but I prefer that to having elastic on both ends (because I feel like the more elastic, the easier it is to overtighten the girth).
After riding with the girth I cannot say that it actually is any cooler for the horse. Part of that is that Oregon is so hot right now that Casey ends up drenched in sweat no matter what we do. I think that this girth probably feels nicer on her sweaty tummy than a leather girth just due to the softness of the material.
This girth is supposed to be easy to care for because it is synthetic and you can just sponge clean it. My experience is that it is easier to clean the sweat off, BUT the holes in the Airoform material are perfect little horse-hair-trappers and so overall I would not say that it is very easy to clean. Right now Casey's has her summer coat, so a few small caught hairs aren't bothering me, but I could imagine that this problem will only get worse when she grows out her winter coat. That being said, I really don't care if my girth is perfectly cleaned at all times so this one factor would not stop me from buying this girth again.

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