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Hannah N Holly 05-09-2013 07:35 PM

A very girthy horse?!
I have a 17 year old quarter horse mare and she absolutely hates her girth to be tightened! The vet has already came out and there's noting wrong. When I put the saddle on her ears pin back and when I go to tighten the girth she tries to bite me and kicks. She was like this for her previous owner but she corrected the problem, however I can't get ahold of her to ask how she did it because she moved far away. So how can I get her to stay calm when I tighten her girth. At shows I see so many people tighten it with ease so I am confused. It is be becoming a pain for me. What do I do!?!?

verona1016 05-09-2013 09:11 PM

My horse was very girthy when I got him. He'd kick, nip, dance around, etc. I'm not 100% certain of the cause or what eventually made it go away, but I'll tell you my best guesses :-)

I got my horse from his breeder- he had been returned by his previous owner when she couldn't afford to keep him. She said he had never been girthy when she had him, and someone else who knew the breeder said he did cinch up very quickly. So one possibility is that the breeder caused the girthiness by habitually cinching up too fast.

He also came with poorly maintained feet and had heel pain (diagnosed with a response to hoof testers); my saddle fitter/acupuncturist (who is also a vet) said one of the "ting" points for the heels is on the girth line. She put one needle in each of his heels as an experiment and while they were in he was MUCH less sensitive on the girth line. She said acupuncture wouldn't provide lasting relief until the heel pain went away. I have a very good farrier for him, and he now no longer responds to hoof testers.

I always girth up very slowly, tightening one hole at a time, alternating between left and right sides. I also frequently (but not always) give him a treat each time I tighten, and correct him anytime he threatens to kick or nip. I've also had his saddle fitted to him and have an anatomic girth.

A few months ago (when I'd had him just under a year) I noticed he wasn't girthy anymore. I can't say exactly when it stopped, but I'm very glad it did. He no longer acts uncomfortable when I'm tightening the girth, and he doesn't even pin his ears when he sees me bring over the saddle.

Joe4d 05-10-2013 06:20 AM

if the horse doesnt have ulcers or some other medical problem my bet is poor saddle fit.

franknbeans 05-10-2013 06:57 AM

Not necessarily, Joe. Many horses are girthy from folks yanking up cinch all at once. I agree with checking for ulcers tho, and try going really slow. I do it in 3 stages. First barely on, then finish putting sport boots on, bridle on, tighten about 1/2 way, finish getting ready to ride, walk to the mounting block and do a final tighten. Mine only swings his head around, and that meets with my elbow. As far as kicking-for me that is a deal breaker. I personally would make the horse think it were going to die for about 3 seconds. Loud "No" or "Quit" accompanied by either my fist to the horses side or the toe of my boot. Yeah-I kick back when they kick. Once-then it is over. If you do it right the first time, you won't have to do it again, most likely. I would be careful tho, and make sure you are set up right with a lead rope on the horse that would be in my hand.......but then, I ground tie.

poppy1356 05-10-2013 08:22 AM

Another possibility is the cinch itself. My horse is very sensitive and will try to bite when doing up a felt cinch. She has to have neoprene, the felt much pinch or something, she just hates those types. So maybe try different cinches for awhile and really make sure there isn't anything on the current one that could hurt.

But pinning the ears back when the saddle goes on might point towards saddle fit issues. I would have a saddle fitter out to make sure that isn't your problem.

Saddlebag 05-10-2013 08:31 AM

It could be girthy by association. "Oh crap, if she tightens that thing up, I have to work and I'd rather stay in bed. Maybe I can scare her in to removing that thing on my back"

Celeste 05-10-2013 08:42 AM

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.

waresbear 05-10-2013 08:44 AM

384 Attachment(s)
A real good way to alleviate girthy behavior is to tighten the girth in increments and shift weight between the increments. Good technique is tighten a bit, pick out a hoof, tighten some more, pick out another hoof, tighten a little, pick out another hoof etc. If you start doing this when you first train a horse, they rarely develop the habit.
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Hannah N Holly 05-10-2013 09:58 AM

thanks this all really helped two homes ago she was abused so that might of where the fear factor came into play. I will give tightening it up slowly a try sounds good to me and ill also get a saddle fitter out also i just got a new saddle but i havent tried it out yet i probably need to do that haha!

LouieThePalomino 05-10-2013 10:29 AM

A horse becomes girthy if people tighten the girth up too quick or too tight. If you tighten it so tight that they hardly can breathe, they with start kicking you and become girthy. You should check if its too tight and only tighten it fully before you go to get one and have someone check it after your on. When I saddle my horse I tighten it only a few holes so its really loose and then I let him sit for 30 minutes or so and then tighten it a couple holes before I lead him out of the gate, and then I tighten it fully before getting on.

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