Girthing Up Issues... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: SW Michigan
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Girthing Up Issues...

Not sure if this would fall under training issues, but my TB Rocket has become increasingly girthy since I have owned him. When I first rode him I thought it was because I was using the 15 year old girth that came with my 15 year old saddle and it would kinda bunch up on the sides as I rode no matter how I did it up. I have since then replaced it with a cloth like girth that does not bunch up and have been using it for about three weeks now.
He is still extremely girth though. It's not like I crank up all at once either or even ride it with it very tight. I will barely tigthen it when I first saddle him then walk him to the ring and then tighten it again before I walk him to the mounting block. I have to make sure to have either him crosstied good or the flash noseband done up because he will whip his head around and try to bite me.
Any suggestions would be great, I have checked him over for girth sores and he doesn't have any and doesnt mind just being touched in that area. His saddle also fits fine. My trainer suggested that maybe its because he is still a little bit underweight and doesnt like it being tigthened on his ribs, but I dunno.
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post #2 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 04:14 PM
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My TB is thinned skinned and he hates it when I girth him up as well. I have come to discover a great process that has helped him out greatly.

1) Fleece Girth Cover
2) Girth slowly

When I tack him up, I put the girth to the very last hole in my billets. No further. Then I boot him, then I put the girth to the next holes up. Then I bridle him and get my helmet on and my gloves, then I lead him to the mounting block and I girth him up the rest of the way - by then, he's focused on other things around him and doesn't pay any attention to me girthing him up the rest of the way.

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post #3 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 04:25 PM
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My new horse was a bit girthy when I first got him around six weeks ago, and he was really underweight (like, refugee). He's gotten so much better weight wise over the last weeks, and the girthyness is all but gone. I think his issue was a combo of greenness, inexperience, and ribbiness.

I would continue to experiment with different materials in girths, maybe he's just "picky," like some horses are with bits. A gel padded girth (I see cinches and dressage girths like this, but I'm sure they're available for an AP or close contact) maybe, or one with elastic on both ends that gives a bit more with his movement. As far as the biting goes, I would set him up, almost dare him, to do it (no crossties or flash ), and "strategically place" my elbow for him to hit as he comes around. It doesn't take long for them to discover that every time they try, they get a bony elbow to the muzzle.

Also check your saddle fit. Since this is an issue that has been getting increasingly worse, I could definitely see a slightly ill-fitting saddle over time making him stiff, or get him anticipating being stiff or in pain, and so resisting girthing.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 04:25 PM
Green Broke
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My Arab mare is extremely girthy - complete with bloating the minute you touch the girth, and pinned devil ears with the angriest glare you've ever seen. I agree with MIEventer, fleece padded girths and extremely slow tightening have yielded much better results.

I personally owe it to my grandpa's "great" training advice. He was old school, and his solution was to make me knee her in the belly anytime she bloated. :roll: Needless to say, my mare has a stubborn streak even bigger then mine and any unwarranted physical punishment/discipline will make the problem 10x worse. I figured that out quickly, and stopped listening to my grandpa's advice (his solution when she was being antsy for the farrier was to wallop her across the rear end with a wooden/chain twitch without warning me OR the farrier...I bet you can guess how that went).

So if your horse has experienced any of that sort of treatment, especially if he's sensitive and thin skinned, that could definately be the reason. Just make it as comfortable and slow as you can for him. He may never stop being girthy (my mare still is 6 years after the fact), but you can at least do your best to make it as easy on him as possible.

Good luck!

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post #5 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 08:20 PM
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Most people don't consider it, but girthyness can be a sign of gastric ulcers. Other symptoms include being uncomfortable while being groomed in the barrel/flank area, stiffness, weight loss or inability to gainweight, dull look to the coat and in the eyes.

There are several things you can do, all of which "work", but only one of which is easy on the pocket and natural. If you have the $$, I'd have a vet out to scope for ulcers. Most horses have some form of ulcer from the fees we give them and the stress we put on them, but some have much more pain from them than others.

You can use Gastrogard, which is very costly and you might have to do the treatment more than once to see significant results. My favorite ulcer treatment isn't even labeled as an ulcer treatment. Dynamite sells a product called Miracle Clay. It is a naturally occuring volcanic ash that is deposited in sea water. It is amazing stuff.... it can be used externally or internally. It actually doesn't taste bad, humans can take it as well and I've experienced the stomach settling effect personally. It can be used as a poultice or drawing agent. It coats the stomach and calms issues allowing for ulcers to heal on their own without irritation. One of my clients is using it right now for a horse that would literally try and attack you if you went to touch her side, and within two days she was significantly different.... just a totally different horse.

For the price it is seriously worth a try, and if it doesn't cure your girthy issues you can use it for a number of different things as well.

I'll include a link with more information.....


If you can't find a girth that works I'd ask your vet about ulcers, or try the clay. Good luck.

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post #6 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 08:31 PM
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Hmmm, interesting theory. Question though, since the girth is done up in their arm pit area, and the stomache is quite a ways back - how does a horse being girthy connected to having ulcurs?

I just don't see the connection??

There were quite a few horses at the Fox Hunting Barn/Eventing Barn that had ulcurs do to their highly competative use - the one's I would tack up *I was a working student* for their iders, I really do not recall them ever being girthy.

Now Nelson on the other hand, has no ulcurs *been scoped and found clear* he shows clear signs of issues when I tack him up too quckly. He bites the air, he turns his head towards me and chomps. He swishes his tail.......

I'm not disagreeing, I just don't see the connection.

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post #7 of 8 Old 07-02-2009, 08:39 PM
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Well, as gastric ulcers progress and multiply, the pain from them for some horses can get worse and worse to the point that they can be labeled as just nasty, mean horses. You are right, there is really no reason for a horse with say, one minor ulcer to show signs of girthyness... but a larger inflamed one can cause pain to radiate through their entire body.

Think about it this way, when you've got cramps have you ever had a day where they were so bad that you didn't want to be touched anywhere and you thought you were going to die? I know I sure have. I've also seen the scopes of very "nasty" horses that would practically try to eat you if you saddled them up or even groomed their barrel that were atrocious.

It is a good question you posed, but look at your diagram. The stomach lies right under the saddle area, especially for larger western saddles. The excess pressure on the lungs when girthing up a horse makes them breathe differently than they would without a saddle, and that adaptation can put pressure on organs that there wouldn't normally be without a saddle.

True, yes, some horses just hate to be girthed up, but some that develop girthyness, especially after significant time under saddle should be considered for ulcers or other internal issues IMO.

Does that help?

Owner and head trainer of SE-Wisconsin Horse Care
*Lessons*Training*Farm/Pet Setting*Dog Walking*Equi-Eval*
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-03-2009, 03:17 PM
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My TB is girthy, too. I can never girth him up in the isle, I always have to do it in the arena or outside. If I try it in the isle, he'll go down on the ground and freak out. A lot of TB's are just like that. Try girthing him up in the arena. Fleece girth sleeves are really good, too.

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is ultimately to be at peace with himself.
What a man can be, he must be.
" Abraham Maslow, 1968

Last edited by Jessabel; 07-03-2009 at 03:19 PM.
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