Horses do not and I repeat do not hold thier breaths when cinched. This is a myth. Horses are not self actualized in such manners and it goes against thier natural instincts. Even under water it will not hold its breath voluntarily. (the action of being under water goes against the bodies natural function of breathing thus causing a natural reation of not sucking in the water just like in humans and other non aquatic animals, involuntarily). Its only in panic (our body's need for oxygen) when such things occur. Horses do drown just as a human and other such animals when our body's need for oxygen outweighs the natural instincts to not suck in. Humans (and I beleive higher order primates) have the mental/ brain power or capacity to voluntarily hold our breaths untill our body's demand for oxygen causes us to breath in.
Horses tighten thier abdominal muscles. They don't have to hold thier breaths to do such no more than we have to. When the abdominal muscles are tighten it, the girth (stomach) area, expands and breathing becomes more shalower. Beleive me they are breathing just like we do. When the muscles are relaxed the girth area decreases thus a loose girth. Kicking, hitting, slapping the horse or girthing up to abruptly will only cause the reinforcement of such action of abdominal muscle tightening. If I know someone was going to whack me in the gut you bet your bottom dollar I would get ready and tighten my abdominal muslces. The same habits form in the horse over repeated times. They arent dumb that's for sure. Girth up slowly. You wouldnt want some one to strap a belt on you and tighten it it suddenly and tightly would you? I say not. Girth up slowly, first girth up snug easily then put on the brilde and lead the horse to where your going to mount then tighten the girth tight enough to get your hand under it firmly, for your weight in the saddle will loosen the girth up naturaly. You may need to tighten again once you have mounted depending on how much saddle padding you have. Yes you can tighten a western saddle while mounted. Not easily done at first but once you get the hang of it its easy as boiling wter.
If your horse is having a hard time breathing that could be a sign of a to tight girth. If the girth is deeply imprinting on the skin or if the fat is rolling around the edges of the girth it might be to tight. If you can't get any part of your hand between it and the horse's ribs it might be to tight. If you hear the snap of a rib bone it might be to tight. (just kidding on that one. :) )
"The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?" Jeremy Bentham
Last edited by ZaneyZanne123; 04-21-2014 at 04:00 AM.