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Signs the girth is too tight?

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  • Horse back tight short breaths
  • How do you know when girth is tight enough western

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    04-20-2014, 11:44 PM
By the way, what a wonderful screen name - The Sacrificial Sloth!

You must have a great sense of humour!
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    04-21-2014, 03:54 AM
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. :) )
    04-21-2014, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ponyboy    
The girth doesn't go around the "stomach." It goes where the band of a bra would sit on a human. That area doesn't expand/contract nearly as much.
Next time you girth up your horse get it to breath in and see how more easily the girth goes up
    04-21-2014, 01:04 PM
Sure they DO hold their breath. Just like humans your rib cage expands when you inhale.
I tighten up multiple times and watch to see that my horse is bracing against a tight girth. Then I use it to my benefit. My horse starts to push out when he thinks I am tightening the girth yet AGAIN, and THAT is when I mount, so he holds the saddle tighter for me. Again, when I dismount after schooling, there is space between the girth and the horse. It makes both me and my horse happy.
I also prefer to use string girths and string cinches when I can bc they conform to the individual horse's shape and, IMHO, they are more comfortable.
    04-21-2014, 07:50 PM
Originally Posted by Corporal    
I tighten up multiple times and watch to see that my horse is bracing against a tight girth. Then I use it to my benefit. My horse starts to push out when he thinks I am tightening the girth yet AGAIN, and THAT is when I mount, so he holds the saddle tighter for me. Again, when I dismount after schooling, there is space between the girth and the horse. It makes both me and my horse happy.
What you are describing is something your horses naturally do, and this method falls short of the claim you made that you teach all of your horses to hold their breath.
    04-26-2014, 04:10 AM
The rib cage has to expand in order of the lungs to have room to fil with air while inhaling. Just as it does when they exhale.

"Bracing" is the horse tightening abdominal muslces, not holding thier breath. I guarantee you he will not hold his breath just for you to mount and dismount (An instinct he vonluntarily does not hold to begin with.) no more than he would if I shut off his nostrils. He will fight to breath in.
    04-26-2014, 04:25 AM
Just as it does when they exhale was meant to read... Just as it relaxes when they exhale. Typo.

It all works on pressure physics.
    04-26-2014, 05:09 AM
Hhhmmm. Humans can voluntarily, and involuntarily, perform the so-called Valsalva manouevre, which has survival value in certain situations and does entail temporary holding of the breath. We also do it when lifting heavy things, or bracing ourselves. I would be very surprised if other mammals didn't do it too.
    04-26-2014, 06:22 AM
The Valsalva maneuver is not holding ones breath but forcing air through through a closed airway. I can hold my breath with out forcing.

Valsalva maneuver - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I use the Valsalva Maneuver to help correct my SVT events.
Not the same dynamics as holding ones breath. A horse will not hold his nostrils and blow out forcefully. Tightening the muscles while performing a forcefull movement (quick stop and turn and etc) can create a grunt or a valsalvic type reaction but its reactionary (involuntary) and mommentary and caused by sudden tightening of muscles that cause one to blow against a closing or restricted ariway. Its not the same as voluntarily holding a breath to create a reaction of lung/chest expansion to keep a girth or strap from being tightened. It is not the same as holding a breath before going under water. It is not the same as being self actualized to voluntarily hold a breath to get a reward. You cannot teach a horse to do this no more than I can teach it not to poop.
    04-26-2014, 06:32 AM
The Valsalva manoeuver does entail a temporary delay of respiration, as does the dive reflex. However technical you want to be about the variations that come under the umbrella of Valsalva manoeuver, the fact is that humans and other animals sometimes do hold their breaths when bracing against things, and in plenty of other situations. Don't get me started on whales. Animals have myoglobin in their muscles to deal with temporary oxygen deficits. The drive to breathe is not quite as all-encompassing as you have suggested, and there are survival-related reasons for sometimes not breathing, in humans and other mammals. Breathing can be easily voluntarily overridden in mammal species, compared to e.g. Rate of heartbeat.

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