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A very girthy horse?!

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  • Horse is very girthy when i put saddle on back

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    05-10-2013, 06:16 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Another possibility is that the horse has been pinched. This was the case with the mare I currently ride. Her past owner always put the saddle too far forwards and cinched up quickly, which often caught skin by her elbow and bunched it up, making her ouchy and often even causing sores. As long as I tighten it correctly and slowly, she's just fine, but if its anywhere near her elbow she'll pin her ears and snaking her head at me.
Celeste likes this.
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    05-10-2013, 06:22 PM
I agree, don't vice grip the cinch. Also, is the saddle back far enough? On an English and on most Western saddles you should be able to put 4 fingers in between the girth or cinch and the horse's elbow. It could be pinching the shoulder muscles. That aside, IMO it's a bad habit.
I have always tightened 3x. First is get it on tight enough so if my horse shakes the saddle doesn't end up on his side. Second, I snug it up a little more, bc I prefer that my horses hold their breaths. Third, I tighten to finish, if necessary. I want my horse to make it tighter so that I can mount. Sometimes I just need to jiggle the girth and they blow up. When I finish riding I can often get my whole fist in between the horse and the girth after I dismount.
    05-11-2013, 08:01 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Celeste    
It could that the horse is responding to past experiences.

I have an old mare that has been girthy since I bought her. The previous owners used an improperly fitted saddle that hurt her back. She associates the saddle with pain. She also had learned that if she acted angry, the owner would put her in the stall and give her sweet feed rather than make her work.

This has been a pain to correct. I just kept cinching her up in spite of her frowny face and she eventually realized that we were going to do the saddle thing regardless of her attitude. Just so she is ridden on a regular basis, she is fine. If I put her in the pasture for a month, she starts trying to move away when I start cinching her up.
And DING DING DING, we have a winner.
Every girthy horse I have dealt with was a result of the current or previous bad fittign saddle. Usually cheap junk QH saddles put on Walkers.
Celeste likes this.
    07-16-2013, 09:15 AM
I agree with the advice to go slow, it also helps to walk the horse a bit between gradual tightening. We've spent the last year really looking into this problem and have a website dedicated to it, which one might find by searching for Girth Shield or Dressage Snob. But briefly, girthiness seems to have a lot to do with how horses go about their breathing strategy. (Interesting tests in AU about this with a group of race horses some years back as well as the British tests about rib cage expansion). When horses work they use diaphragmatic breathing--essentially sloshing their guts up against the backside of lungs every stride to assist the exhale phase. When they are in the cross ties getting tacked up they are breathing muscularly and when you tighten a girth up all at once they can literally stop breathing for a moment. (You'd lay your ears back too!). There are designs of girth that help a lot and they are not what you think, but with any girth going slow, moving the horse, longing for a while will help. In out tests we found horses liked natural fiber cord girths, narrow girths by the elbows and very limited hardware low on the body. Ours did not like overly elastic models. We do our girths up quite tight--over 20 lbs of pressure and no longer have any issue.

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