My name is Dawn, I'm 26, and live in south florida.
I've been riding a long time, hunters when I was younger and now I'm giving dressage a try. I recently started leasing a 15 year old arabian gelding who is a sweetheart, but has some issues.
He was owned by a lady who abandoned him at my trainer's barn. A wonderful family who doesn't have much horse experience fell in love with him and bought him. He seems perfect for me - he has some background in dressage, and is really a sweetie.
I had heard that in the past when you tighten his girth that he sometimes freaks out (and even flipped over once...maybe more than once, I can't remember what they told me). His new family hadn't seen him do it, but heard that he had done it in the past. The day I rode him for the first time I was tacking him up and when it was time to put on the girth, they told me how many holes to put it on (I had no idea about his girth issues at this time, I just thought they were being protective so I did what they told me, thinking i'd tighten the girth up when we got in the ring). I did exactly what they told me they always do. He seemed fine, but after I got his bridle on and went to lead him out of the cross ties, he totally collapsed! Of course, because I didn't know he had a history of this, I thought it was something I'd done...I was really scared and confused!
Thankfully, he didn't panic, but he couldn't get up. It took him 3-4 tries to get back to his feet, after we loosened the girth. We walked him around, and then gradually tightened one hole at a time, walking him after every hole. He was fine from then on and rode like a dream. This was last Saturday.
Yesterday (Tuesday) night I went out to ride him again and this time I was very careful with the girth. I kept it very loose (not even really on) until I lead him out onto the grass, and then tightened very gradually (one hole at a time). He had a wobbly moment where I thought he might go down, but was able to remain on his feet after I loosened and then walked and tried again.
Again, after that he rode just fine.
As far as I know, this horse is healthy and is known to have this problem. My trainer told me a pinched nerve is likely the cause of this. I'd just never seen it before, and want to make sure that I deal with it the right way when it comes to tacking up. Is there anything else I can do besides tightening one hole at a time and then walking to make it easier for him?
Here he is: