Biting after girthing
I mentioned this a while back... and was told to check saddle fit and ulcers. I had the vet in, had a saddle fitter in, even an equine massage therapist. I do appreciate those suggestions and I'm glad I've eliminated those things, but Harley still doesn't like to be girthed. He'll now tolerate a rubber curry under his belly (before, he would swish his tail wildly, but I've told him firmly to hold still a few times and he seems to accept it - mind you, I'm also careful not to be too rough on his belly).
My coach suggested I only tighten the girth in the arena. That works well on the cross ties, when I'm only pulling it enough so the saddle doesn't slip, but once we get to the arena, it becomes an issue again, only, he's not tied so he keeps moving around. I do hold the reins by putting an arm through them as I tighten the girth, but he still keeps moving.
Finally, he nips at me after I put on his girth. As I walk him out to the arena, and especially when I turn my back to him slightly, he lunges at me as if to nip. Now I don't feel any teeth - but that's probably because I expect it and catch him in the act so then he pulls away. It's like he's telling me he's annoyed at me. And after I tighten it in the arena, he tries to nip at me again, sometimes grabbing my coat sleeve a bit. I'm not trying to minimize the behavior, I take it very seriously, especially because he's also my 10 yr old daughter's horse. He needs to be totally kid safe.
So I tried carrying a nail between my knuckles and ***** him slightly when he tries to bite - silly horse things it's a new game and tries to pick the nail out by pulling on it with his teeth. Very agile and clever, his teeth do not even touch my skin, but he is able to get them around a tiny nail and pull on it. He is seriously such a goofball sometimes that it's hard to be mad at him. But the whole nail thing is not working. Slapping at him doesn't work either, obviously. I actually started saying "no" whenever he looks like he wants to nip and he kind of looks down like he got caught red-handed, very much like a dog would. In fact, my tendency to say "no" comes from having two dogs. But he still tries to do it.
Oh, and FYI, after I ride him and get off, even if it's just for a couple of turns around the arena, I can pat him, snuggle with him, and he looks happy and affectionate and wouldn't think of nipping. He is still wearing the girth but it doesn't bother him anymore. He likes to work, likes to be ridden, so that isn't the issue. It really seems tied specifically to the tightening of the girth.