Fixing the very cinchy horse
Okay so background on this mare, just turned 4, 15.2 hh quarter horse mare. Sent to me for some barrel training.
Coming along beautifully, very smart and willing.. but:
When cinching her, regardless of how easy or slow you do it, she sets back, jumps forward, sets back, jumps forward. Now if she's not tied, you can snug it then let her walk around a few steps then continue until it's tight. No known pain or issues of that nature.
I'm curious to hear what you guys would do to FIX this problem!
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I don't know anything but western saddles but I've found using a really soft fleece lined or string type girth helps a lot. I have two horses that get like this when they have time off and it takes me a few sessions of back into work before it goes away.
I tend to have them on the lunge a little while before I get on too as they are inclined to explode when they move and I'm getting too old for all that now
Its definitely better to tighten the girth gradually and allow them to move around a bit to adjust to the feel and then tighten it again and then again and so on until you have it where you want it
Be sure nothing is pinching anywhere, some horses are real babies about the tiniest bit of discomfort that others don't even notice
My first guess would be that she's been pinched bad at some point during her training either by a cinch or a poorly fitting saddle. Are you 100% certain that it's not a recurring pain issue? She might have a spot in her back that hurts to have the saddle tightened down on.
Does she do anything like this when she's tied at other times or is it strictly during saddling?
Have you considered ulcers?
Has she coliced badly before? Sometimes if surgery was needed they will develop a sensitive cinch area.
I second the fleece.
Cinch up in degrees. Just attach the cinch and suck it up just a tad, and walk away for a few seconds. Go back and tighten it just a little more.
With some horses, you have to take this really slow for a few times, some you don't. Use your discretion with your horse and situation.
The walking away after every small tighten is important, it gives them some release and a clue that they did something right.
If she is really reactive, just tighten until you can sense a reaction coming on (flinches, tensing up) and immediately stop tightening and walk away until she settles. You may need to do this daily for a while.
I make it a point to cinch up in degrees everytime I ride.
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Peritonitis will cause this, internal organs will too. Could also have cracked rib, abscess in deep tissue, girth be too long, or saddle at some point may have been defective and hurt her.
Could also be spoiled and has gotten away with it.
Put aside a couple of days where you have all the time in the world. Throw the saddle on and start to tighten the girth. Just get it to where the saddle won't fall off. Then walk a few steps. Tighten again. Walk. Tighten. Once it's tight enough, walk a lap. Then loosen a bit. Walk. Loosen. Walk. Once it's untied, start tightening it again. Tighten. Walk. Tighten. Walk. Repeat however long it takes until she has no reaction anymore. Then do it the next day. And the next. Until she's stopped reacting.
I have a friend that has a mare that used to grind her teeth and away when getting cinched up. Usually when they act like this and there is no physical problems it means they have been pinched or there girth has been yanked on. How I got my friends mare over it is what mustanggirl said and also rubbing/messaging the area where the cinch goes (with out a saddle on), gets them used to feeling a pressure there and teaches them your not going to hurt them. I also get a rope/luge line and wrap it around there heart girth and by pulling both ends one up and one down gets them more used to the pressure. And of course after her doing what you want praise her! Hope that helps :)
Now maybe I'm just sensitive to this issue, but if you have to tighten the cinch three times, you're cinching too tight. Even with a horse that bloats you should only have to cinch up twice. You have to recognize that two or three wraps of the latigo around those rigging rings has a multiplying effect. Even a small woman or boy can make a horse extremely uncomfortable by over-tightening the cinch.
Being as you are a barrel racer, and need a pretty snug cinch while racing, I suspect this is your issue.
Three other issues that can contribute to over-cinching, are too much saddle pad (those soft, cushy, pillow-like pads), too wide a cinch, and padded cinches. For normal riding (western tack, non-performance competition), if your saddle fits properly, you need very little padding, and the cinch need be no more than snug. I recommend a wool felt pad of 1/2-1", and a straight mohair string cinch (not the roper style).
The bad news is that once a horse is cinchy from over-cinching, it's pretty tough to get them over it. You just sort of have to deal with it. It becomes a habitual behavior with them that is hard to get rid of.:-(
^^Thenrie, that's certainly a different way of looking at the issue and it could very well be right. Normally, unless I'm fixing to rope something, I'll usually only cinch up 2 times, the first is relatively loose when I first put the saddle on, and then I'll pull it up snug-ish after leading them out to where I'm going to mount.
Though I have been guilty of just stepping on in the barn after only lightly tightening it that first time and, after riding for several hours working cattle or whatever, I get off to find the front cinch nearly as loose as the back...hanging an inch or more off their belly.
Not something I would advise anyone else to do, but I've been lucky and not had an accident yet.
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