Horse “biting” during tacking up... please h - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Horse “biting” during tacking up... please h

I’m new to the horse forum but here goes nothing. I partially lease this pony named Betty. She’s a pony and a mare so she has quite the attitude. When I put her saddle and girth on (I don’t slam the saddle down or tighten the girth all at once or too fast) she “bites”. What I mean, is she pins her ears, throws her head back and bites the air next close to you but not close enough to actually bite (most of the time anyways). The only advise I’ve gotten is to whack her but it (understandably) makes her want to bite me more and puts her in a bad mood for a few minutes. I’ve also tried ignoring it and pushing her head away but she still does it. The last thing I’ve tried is something I read. Kicking her leg lightly to redirect her attention (not to cause pain) and then making her walk for a bit. That hasn’t done anything either, it doesn’t redirect her attention unless I kick her really hard (which puts her in a bad mood).

She’s not by any means a biter, this is the only thing she “bites” at. She’s a healthy 11 year old pony and doesn’t have anything medically wrong with her. Does anybody know how to deal with this? Any and all help is appreciated.
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post #2 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 07:59 PM
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The response you're describing is called being "girthy." This response is an indication of pain or could be a habit that was created out of past pain. This is not an attitude, this is not being mean - this is her trying to tell you "that hurts!!" The most common cause of a girthy horse is gastric ulcers, and when you tighten the girth, you're irritating those ulcers in her stomach. You should talk to the leaser about how long this behavior has been going on and ask if she/he could call a vet out to tell you what the best steps forward are in regards to diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention.
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post #3 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:01 PM
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I know you say she is medically sound, but it sounds like pain: back pain (possibly due to poor saddle fit) or maybe ulcers. Does she bit both when you put the saddle on her back and when you girth her up?

I am a cheater. When I had a lesson horse that had a reputation for biting when tacking up or hoof picking, I gave him hay while I was tacking him up. So I didn't have any problems.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #4 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:02 PM
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I'm with @Aprilswissmiss on this.
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post #5 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:12 PM
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My gelding does the same thing but he will try and bite me. I've been using treats like a peice of carrot. He gets dancing around after saddle is on.

When I hook up cinch he starts tossing head pinning ears bitting at lead rope. Before I even try to do up cinch I give him a peice of carrot.

Grab cinch put strap through cinch ring,give another peice of carrot. Then slowly tighten cinch. I'll give him another peice of carrot in-between tightening keeps him busy. He still has his ears flat back, but doesn't toss head and bite at stuff.

I also use alfalfa cubes broken into smaller pieces.
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post #6 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
The response you're describing is called being "girthy." This response is an indication of pain or could be a habit that was created out of past pain. This is not an attitude, this is not being mean - this is her trying to tell you "that hurts!!" The most common cause of a girthy horse is gastric ulcers, and when you tighten the girth, you're irritating those ulcers in her stomach. You should talk to the leaser about how long this behavior has been going on and ask if she/he could call a vet out to tell you what the best steps forward are in regards to diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention.
The person I’m leasing her owns the barn and is the riding instructor. Since I only partial lease I don’t deal with the vet, farrier, etc. The owner/instructor helps around the barn and stays on top of this stuff, they even just took a horse to a vet hospital to get them checked for ulcers. Also her sister (the horse trainer at the barn) rides this pony once a week so I don’t think it’s medical. I think it’s just a habit. I do remember when she was younger (she was born and raised at this barn) they had to do some special thing related to the girth, put it on really slowly or something like that so maybe she used to have pain with it and it’s habit. But it’s mostly when I put the saddle on her back rather than the girth. I can’t say I’m too knowledgeable about this but one thing that’s certain is that it’s not medical and has been going on her whole life. I’m guessing it’s a habit, do you know how I break this habit?
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post #7 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
I know you say she is medically sound, but it sounds like pain: back pain (possibly due to poor saddle fit) or maybe ulcers. Does she bit both when you put the saddle on her back and when you girth her up?

I am a cheater. When I had a lesson horse that had a reputation for biting when tacking up or hoof picking, I gave him hay while I was tacking him up. So I didn't have any problems.
She does do it for both, mostly when I put the saddle on but she also does when I tighten the girth. She doesn’t do it after, more of as I’m lifting it to put on her back. The saddle was fit for her (it’s not mine, it’s hers) but I do think she’s getting a new saddle soon because hers is old and the leather is kind of wearing away.
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post #8 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
The response you're describing is called being "girthy." This response is an indication of pain or could be a habit that was created out of past pain. This is not an attitude, this is not being mean - this is her trying to tell you "that hurts!!" The most common cause of a girthy horse is gastric ulcers, and when you tighten the girth, you're irritating those ulcers in her stomach. You should talk to the leaser about how long this behavior has been going on and ask if she/he could call a vet out to tell you what the best steps forward are in regards to diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention.
I forgot to mention along with the thing she used to have to have done with the girth, she wears a gel pad and has this grouper (I think it’s called?) that attaches to the back of the saddle and to her tail since she hates when the saddle is too far forward (which I don’t put it too far forward anyways, mostly just to make sure it doesn’t move forward during the ride) so I don’t think it'd be pain although I’m not positive.
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post #9 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 08:48 PM
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It's hard to know just based on what you're saying, but if she needs a crupper just for a normal ride, and she wants to bite when you put on her saddle, it sounds like maybe her saddle doesn't fit. At least, that would be my first guess.

I'm no expert here, so take it with a grain of salt.

I know from experience that horse owners, barn owners, and instructors can all talk a great talk about the healthcare their horses get, and how well their tack fits, but a lot of times there is a lot of exaggeration and even misinformation there. And it's hard to talk about things like this to them when you're leasing, because they can be really dismissive.
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"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person

Last edited by ACinATX; 08-23-2020 at 08:59 PM.
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post #10 of 112 Old 08-23-2020, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
It's hard to know just based on what you're saying, but if she needs a crupper just for a normal ride, and she wants to bite when you put on her saddle, it sounds like maybe her saddle doesn't fit. At least, that would be my first guess.

I'm no expert here, so take it with a grain of salt.

I know from experience that horse owners, barn owners, and instructors can all talk a great talk about the healthcare their horses get, and how well their tack fits, but a lot of times there is a lot of exaggeration and even misinformation there. And it's hard to talk about things like this to them when you're leasing, because they can be really dismissive.
It definitely is hard to talk to them about this stuff...They mentioned she’ll possibly be getting a new saddle soon so she doesn’t need the crupper. They said only if it’s the right price... and I can’t afford a saddle especially because I might outgrow her soon. What should I do until then? They probably won’t listen to me is there anything I could do on my own?
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