Sensitive "flinchy" back while saddling

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Sensitive "flinchy" back while saddling

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  • Horse is flinchy
  • Saddling sensitive horses

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    11-07-2012, 05:11 PM
Green Broke
Sensitive "flinchy" back while saddling

I bought Red in May. He's a 6-yr-old quarter horse gelding.

He has always been very "flinchy" when saddling. Either when I put the saddle pad on his back or setting the saddle on his back. I'll see all the skin on his back twitch, and sometimes he'll move away from me. As if the placing of the saddle is going to hurt him.

I always gently set and pad and the saddle on my horse's backs, with the opposite stirrup up. I know I wouldn't appreciate a stirrup flying through the air and smacking me in the bellly on the opposite side, so I don't do it to them by heaving the saddle up onto their backs.

He has never seen a chiropractor, but I have an appointment set up for February (before we get riding again after the winter) as well as a full health chec-up with the lameness specialist to make sure he doesn't have any health issues going on.

And when I cinch him up, I always do so gently, without yanking. And I won't make it very tight the first time, because I'll walk him a few steps before I get on, and then re-check and tighten then. And once he gets warmed up, I will re-check it to see if it needs to be tightened, if the saddle feels loose to me.

But when I cinch him up, he's always turning his head around to "watch" me. When I first got him, he tried biting me on two occasions, and he was reprimanded immediately for it. He's learned his lesson because he hasn't tried it again. I don't mind if he "watches" but those teeth better not come out.

I guess what I am getting at here, is just trying to figure out if he is just truly a "cinchy horse" ..... or if he might have something else going on.

I do believe my saddle fits him okay, but I am no expert by any means.

So besides a possibly chiropractice issue (which I will have checked in February, since I'm not exactly riding much at all right now), anything else anyone can think of?
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    11-07-2012, 05:16 PM
Green Broke
Here's a few saddle fit photos from earlier this year. I use an Impact Gel pad under my saddle.

    11-07-2012, 07:36 PM
Try puttig the saddle on him from the other side. If he freaks out then this has to be something that dosnt fear him. He might of had a bad expirence before in his life that you might not have been told of. My mare always watches me when I sinch up that dosnt bother me tho, but the last time I had a horse being hurt from a saddle she would curve her back in. And I later desocered the saddle bridged her back and the saddle threw then spine out. But im not a expert in that department either I just thought I would share what has happened in my past :)
    11-07-2012, 07:49 PM
For some reason I feel like your saddle might be sitting on his shoulders funny. When he sweats are there any dry spots?
    11-07-2012, 08:18 PM
I'm no expert on saddle fit either, and it's hard for me to judge for sure on the pics you posted, but I'd hazard a guess that the saddle is too far forward.

I agree that the flinching is either pain or the expectation of pain. It may go back to before you had him, since he started out biting at this exercise.

If you firmly move your fingers down his back, does he flinch and give? That could indicate back pain. If so, then the chiro may be the one and only answer.
    11-07-2012, 09:53 PM
Green Broke
It does not matter what side I saddle him from.

When I first got him, there were some dry spots after a workout. But he was pretty tubby. When I got him skinned down a bit, my saddle looked better on him and there have been no dry spots.

I do agree I could move it back a tish. I took these photos back in July, and I've been setting it back just a big more to clear his shoulders.

I have never noticed his back to be sore with pressure. I had an equine massage therapist, and she didn't detect much for back issues except some slight tightness. He did have some nasty knots near his poll that I work on a little every day!
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    11-07-2012, 10:06 PM
Green Broke
Rosie does this, but it's just an old habit. She also throws her head up and pins her ears when your messing with the breastcollar.. I'm like "holy crap senile old woman, that's not even the girth!"
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    11-07-2012, 10:10 PM
Does he seem sensitive about getting brushed a bit too hard? How is his general temperament, is he easygoing and generally spook free? Is he sensitive and reactive? Does he seem reluctant to bend his neck or collect and round his back when you're riding?

It could be a chiro issue or he may just be a sensitive horse that's a bit cinchy. If the saddle isn't leaving any dry spots, then the fit is probably okay. It's hard for me to tell saddle fit from pictures unless it's obviously a bad fit and yours isn't.
    11-07-2012, 10:31 PM
Green Broke
Yes, he is sensitive-skinned on his back (and a little on his rump) when I brush him, so I brush him pretty gently. On his neck he loves getting brushed hard! Or under his belly. He loves that too.

He is more of a sensitive, alert, spookish kind of horse, although he can be easy going and relaxed too. He does not have any trouble flexing from side to side. He doesn't round and collect as nicely as I would like, but I believe that's more of a training issue. I'm taking him to a reining trainer in feb or march and that I one of the things I am going to get help with.
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    11-07-2012, 10:34 PM
If he isn't showing any signs of pain, then the flinchy part of the saddle process may just be one of his quirks that has it's base in his sensitive nature. At some point he may have been saddled roughly to exasperate the issue but either way, I wouldn't really worry about it.

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