Weird Reaction... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Weird Reaction...

So, Brown horse has a cinching/nipping problem. Only when cinched, and I've been working on him with it. He has gotten better, however, I was standing next to him helping to saddle him, and someone was doing his cinch. I was watching Brown, and he was watching me. I could tell he was thinking about nipping, his lips were twitching, lip was crooked his tell tale signs he is going to do it.

Then... He turns his head to the other side where no one is at, and nips at the air. Afterwards, he's all gravy, and we can get started.

He knows better that he can't nip me, because every time he gets told off. He and I have a pretty good understanding about things and he doesn't pull half as many stunts as he does to other riders on the ground.

Other reactions are him swinging his head up and down during cinching, at least when I'm doing it.

It feels like he really wants to bite, but reacts in other ways so as not to get reprimanded. He has a white spot (solid sorrel) on his girthing area, from previous ownership, which explains why he is so nasty about cinching.

Anywho, I was wondering, is this normal? Should it be reprimanded, or let it be so long as he doesn't make any attempts?
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post #2 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:41 PM
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I don't really have any answers for you, but my horse did something similar to this, last weekend. In my case however, we were refreshing some ground manners, he got frustrated and bit at the horse blanket hanging on the stall door. I will be watching this thread!
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post #3 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Deschutes View Post
So, Brown horse has a cinching/nipping problem. Only when cinched, and I've been working on him with it. He has gotten better, however, I was standing next to him helping to saddle him, and someone was doing his cinch. I was watching Brown, and he was watching me. I could tell he was thinking about nipping, his lips were twitching, lip was crooked his tell tale signs he is going to do it.

Then... He turns his head to the other side where no one is at, and nips at the air. Afterwards, he's all gravy, and we can get started.

He knows better that he can't nip me, because every time he gets told off. He and I have a pretty good understanding about things and he doesn't pull half as many stunts as he does to other riders on the ground.

Other reactions are him swinging his head up and down during cinching, at least when I'm doing it.

It feels like he really wants to bite, but reacts in other ways so as not to get reprimanded. He has a white spot (solid sorrel) on his girthing area, from previous ownership, which explains why he is so nasty about cinching.

Anywho, I was wondering, is this normal? Should it be reprimanded, or let it be so long as he doesn't make any attempts?
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I would check for pain with the saddle, maybe have a chiropractor take a peek. I know of a mare that was cinchy for years, and when I took ownership I had her checked for pain by a vet/chiropractor... Sure enough, she was out of whack and trying to bite while being cinched was her trying to tell her old owners, who assumed she was just a crabby mare. After being adjusted, she never nipped again. This is not a fix all, but I like to rule out pain before I assume it's only behavior related :)
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post #4 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:45 PM
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I rode a mare many years ago that would snap at the air when cinched. She had quite a number of scars, but we had no knowledge of her past, so I couldn't tell you if she had been mistreated or was simply a klutz. She was a wonderful horse to handle and to ride, and the air-snapping was her only issue. She never directed it at me, in fact was careful not to, so I left her be about it. If she had indicated that it was me she'd like to bite, it would have been an entirely different reaction. In her case, she was simply reacting to something she found uncomfortable, and in a manner that was not a danger, so it wasn't worth the battle.

If his body language insinuates that it is YOU he'd like to be biting, then thats something else entirely, and needs to be addressed. Match force to force though, if he pins his ears and makes a nasty face, then scold him accordingly, if he escalates the behavior, then you need to escalate the reprimand.

"Keep a leg on each side and your mind in the middle"
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post #5 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Right! We are intending to get some chiros out before and after faire so we can ensure that everyone is in good shape. He also has some white marks on his withers from ill fitting saddles, also.
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post #6 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:49 PM
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Right! We are intending to get some chiros out before and after faire so we can ensure that everyone is in good shape. He also has some white marks on his withers from ill fitting saddles, also.
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Hm yep sounds like a good candidate for a little bodywork! If my mare wasn't grey I'll bet I could have found evidence of improperly fitting tack :/
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post #7 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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I do reprimand him when he gets nasty, and have gotten at him once pretty hard for trying to kick out while getting a linimint rub down (I guess it just feels weird/ uncomfortable to him) and he's not done so since.

He thinks about it, but so long as his head does not lunge at me, he gets left alone. I've never gotten contacted, but two others got nipped pretty hard in the breast some years ago. Much better about it now, I think.
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post #8 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:55 PM
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Another problem people don't think about when girthing is the speed you do it. When you yank the girth up all the way you can actually knock the wind out of a horse. With the lesson horses I work with we made it a practice to cinch them very slowly. We'd put it on so it was just touching their sides, not tight at all. Then bridle them, then tighten a tiny bit. Then bring them in the ring and tighten a little more, then walk around and tighten the rest. Slowing it down takes the blow out of the girth.
Even our most girthy horses stopped reacting after a while, they were no longer afraid of getting puffed out.

The only one that remained girthy we discovered had ulcers. You may want to look into that if you do girth slowly.
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post #9 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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I will try that. I tried girthing slowly, but getting cinched entirely via slow pulling, instead of cinching so much, then letting him walk out, etc. That might yield better results.
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post #10 of 14 Old 03-11-2013, 11:06 PM
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It worked, but it takes them time to realize it's not going to be a big pull. It took a few weeks of regularly cinching like that.
I also just remembered - when I started working with my colt he would always try to 'groom me back' when I scratched a good spot, but his grooming could get rough so I'd push his nose away and say 'no'. After a few repetitions of that he would turn his head completely away and wriggle his nose and bite the air like grooming an invisible friend. I think some of them can't resist their 'urges' but learn to just face the other way.
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