why is she being girthy and how can I stop it? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 39 Old 01-08-2009, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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why is she being girthy and how can I stop it?

Lately I've noticed that Jubilee is very girthy. Whenever I go to tighten the girth, she pins her ears right back and looks back at me. Last time I rode, even when I put the saddle pad on her, she put her ears back. I have ruled out soreness, because a) there aren't any saddle sores b) her saddle fits and c) when I re-tighten the girth in the arena, she doesn't mind. So all I can assume is that she's thinking, "What I have to work? Awww mom!!" Why else would she do that? She doesn't mind when I put the saddle on, just when I tighten the girth.

I've tried, going really gentle, one hole at a time, and she still gets snippy. In that moment where the strap goes up, she yanks her head up, ears back. Like I said, when I re-tighten in the arena, she's completely fine, so obviously it isn't a soreness issue. I've also tried standing near her girth and kind of playing with all the straps. Like, not in an annoying way, but just touching the saddle, patting her near her girth area, rubbing her, etc. Once I had a lot of time to tack up, so I took about 15 minutes, trying to get her to stop being girthy. Each time she would fuss, I would stop touching the girth and walk up to her face, until her ears perked forward again.

(*Note: My horse always has her ears forward. And like most horses, I can tell a lot of her mood. If her ears are back, she's either, listening, like undersaddle, or hearing something behind her. If they're flat back, she's mad).

Also, I should mention, that she doesn't take the bit too easily either. She won't fuss, but she just closes her teeth and won't open. It takes lots of coaxing to get the bit in. Now, I'm thinking, that probably the two are connected, because maybe she's telling me, I don't want to be ridden. But in the arena, she doesn't fuss at all. She's perfectly fine.

So what should I do? Thanks in advance!

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11



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post #2 of 39 Old 01-08-2009, 10:05 PM
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Has she always done that or is it a new thing? Do you spend much time with her before you tack her up? Maybe she's saying she wants more time to hang out with you or something...And maybe when you pet her until she puts her ears forward she's being positively reinforced that pinning her ears gets her attention, so she does it more?
Just a thought. Good luck! =)
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post #3 of 39 Old 01-08-2009, 10:13 PM
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Don't always get on and ride. Tighten the girth (just ignore the antics - no petting or anything) and then spend the time working on some ground work together - something fun like walking around the property and stepping over logs or asking for a sidepass past a tree, etc. Interesting things that do have meaning when you are in the saddle as well. Also lots of neck petting and telling her she is a good girl. Then take the saddle off, groom her out and return her to the pasture/stall that day.

Sometimes horses just need down time like that so they stop anticipating.
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post #4 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 12:27 AM
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Horses don't just all of a sudden get girthy for no reason. Your horse either has a soundness/soreness issue, or your tack doesn't fit. You should have the vet and chiro out to see her, and a saddle fitter. Realistically, we should be getting our saddles at least checked every 6-8 months. Yes you may have had your saddle fit to your horse, but she may have gained/lost weight and muscle since then and the saddle may have also changed shape.
As for the girthy-ness, put the girth on the lowest hole on both sides and grab your lunge line. Lunge her at the trot a bit, then tighten the girth QUICK and switch sides and repeat until your girth is tight.
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post #5 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 04:12 AM
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I agree with Wallaby, Cat and anebel. She's trying to tell you something, to her, it seems like your not getting it. How long have you had her? Have you allowed any snot nosed brats, ride her. I once had a lesson horse like this. Some snot nosed punk thought, that instead of taking ten minutes to properly girth her, to just girth her in one sitting. All I have to say is this, where is that punk and I hope he's wearing a belt, and let's see how he likes being belted up good and tight..... So anyways, I'm taking it you do English, I rode western with this mare that would draw blood if she ever did get a firm grasp, it would be tight enough the saddle was on, but clearly some slack. I would go get her bridle, put it on her, tighten it up slightly more so there was contact, do a latigo, go to the arena and walk her around. Than during a safety check, I would tighten her up again. Get on, walk her around, and than the instructor would tighten her up. For english I would say do the same thing, enough she can feel it, but no pressure, walk her around or lounge her, than tighten again. Something, however is going on. Listen to her. If anything get a professional. I would hate to see your mare be like the mare I once rode. A mare that thought everytime she was girthed she'd be sliced in half.... It's sad, it really is.
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post #6 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 07:49 AM
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Taking this in another direction, how long ago did it start and is it possible that she's just in her heat cycle? The mare I used to lease would change from a kinda-monster to an absolute hellion when she was going into heat, and every single thing was a battle. If you rule out soreness, it could just be that she's feeling hormonal and crabby. Just my $0.02

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post #7 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

I have already ruled out the soreness issue. If she was sore, she would act funny while I ride her, which she doesn't. And no, this didn't start all of a sudden, she's been doing this for several months. I know I said, "lately" in my post, but that's because I've just realized that this has been going on for a while and is really starting to bug me. I've had her for a year and 3 months. When I put the girth on, I don't tighten it up all the way. I only put it on the first hole and then re-tighten in the ring.

I think I might just practice doing a lot of tacking up but not riding, so she doesn't "anticipate" it, like Cat said.

Thanks again.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11



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post #8 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 11:06 AM
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Vida is like this in the winter too. Personally I think she has sensitive skin and the longer hair in winter makes it more so.
I go ahead and start to tighten the cinch/girth just until its tight enough to hold the saddle on. Then I go either brush her tail or just sit down and drink a Coke. Then go back and finish tightening the cinch,doing a final tighten just before I mount up.
I just ignore her ear pinning on the initial tightening. If she is like Vida she will be less nasty if you let that cinch settle in for 5 minutes or so before you go for the big tighten.


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post #9 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Vidaloco View Post
Vida is like this in the winter too. Personally I think she has sensitive skin and the longer hair in winter makes it more so.
I go ahead and start to tighten the cinch/girth just until its tight enough to hold the saddle on. Then I go either brush her tail or just sit down and drink a Coke. Then go back and finish tightening the cinch,doing a final tighten just before I mount up.
I just ignore her ear pinning on the initial tightening. If she is like Vida she will be less nasty if you let that cinch settle in for 5 minutes or so before you go for the big tighten.
Vida, thanks so much! That actually makes a lot of sense, because come to think of it, I just really noticed her being like this in the cold months. And yes, she does have sensitive skin because when I brush her with something tickly like the curry comb, around her girth area, she reacts in exactly the same way, ears back, head up. So yeah, maybe she is just sensitive.

But then, how would you explain her not taking the bit easily? Is she just being stubborn? She doesn't get fussy, just closes her teeth.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11



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post #10 of 39 Old 01-09-2009, 11:27 AM
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Is the bit cold? I warm it up (I stick it under my shirt or down my pants )
That's the only thing I can think of. If your not riding as much as usual due to the cold weather. She may be just being stubborn.


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