Biting after girthing - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 72 Old 02-19-2016, 10:32 AM
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Without a scope its really not possible to say that a horse definitely does or doesn't have ulcers and while on the one hand your 'people' are telling you that he doesn't show signs of ulcers his behavior when being girthed actually does,
I've put a pic of the digestive system up so you can see where the stomach is and why girthing would cause discomfort if the horse does have stomach ulcers
Why not put him on a course of something like U-Gard and see if it makes a difference? Its not something that's going to hurt him if he doesn't have them
You can also give him a small high fibre feed before riding as that helps prevent acid from splashing up and getting in contact with the unprotected part of the stomach
Another thing that frequently gets overlooked and can cause extreme sensitivity to touch and pressure that results in very fractious behavior is Vitamin E deficiency - horses being fed only hay at certain times of the year with insufficient supplement in their feed can get very low - your vet can do a blood test to check levels
I know some horses can do this just out of naughtiness but its not something I expect from a horse that's otherwise nice natured, good to handle and a willing ride such as your one sounds to be
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post #22 of 72 Old 02-19-2016, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post

Also, the vet (and the trimmer, and the equine massage therapist) looked him over and did not feel there were any signs of ulcers. They did not scope him because in their professional opinions, it is highly unlikely.
I agree with Jaydee. Often times it is much cheaper to just TREAT for ulcers, than doing the scoping. And if his mood improves, well there you go!

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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
As for the behavior itself, it isn't severe, as in, he doesn't try to turn and bite me when I'm girthing him. He just does it whenever I'm near his head, like when I'm leading him to the indoor. And it's not like a teeth bared, ears back kind of movement. More like a little head jerk and touching with the lips.

Also, I've tried the elbow, but he knows I'm going to react when he attempts a "fake-nip" and pulls away before I can reach him.

Go after him.
Period.

This is sometimes when I will take it "literal" to treat my horse like another horse. In a case like this, where I know he is going to bite and the horse knows I am going to correct him, I may literally CHARGE him while yelling like a crazy banshee. Basically, scare the crud out of the horse. Make them realize what a huge mistake it was to even "fake bite" at me.

This works especially well if they are loose like you say when you are leading him to the arena. Make him move those feet away from you and mean it. Carry a small crop in your free hand if you need to. Do what you need to do to make the horse think he just made the biggest mistake of his life.

Make the "I'm-going-to-kill-you" last for about 3 seconds, then pretend nothing happened and go about your business as you were. Of course, you have to respond to the bite immediately when it happens.

Make him take you seriously. Sounds like right now, he knows what you are going to do, and knows how to get away with it.

That's how I'd deal with it, anyway. I'm okay if a horse wants to be a little girthy or cinchy and show their emotion on their face or swish their tail, but I am NOT okay with nibbling or biting. That crosses the line, in my book.

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post #23 of 72 Old 02-19-2016, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jenkat86 View Post
I agree with most of this...sometimes though there is that 1 in 58349857348 chance that it is something physical. My mare acted the same way as OP's horse. The chiropractor came out and adjusted her, she was still the same. He came out again, noticed her ribs were out and adjusted her and she hasn't been cinchy since.

It was completely by chance that we figured it out this way.

OP, has he always been like this, or is it worse in the winter months?

Could you take a close up picture of the girth and billets when he is cinched up next time?

If it isn't physical- Foxhunter is absolutely right, it can take a very long time to correct the behavior.
Yes, he's always been like this. We got him in October when he still had his summer coat on and when they cinched him up at the barn we bought him from, he reacted.

Will get a picture next time!
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post #24 of 72 Old 02-19-2016, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I'm assuming you're alone when riding so can't have someone hold him to stop the dancing?

If that's true, use the arena to your advantage. Put him facing into a corner when you tighten the girth, this will limit the amount he can move if there's a wall on one side (his right side), a wall in front of him, and you on his left side tightening the girth
Correct, and that's what I am doing now so he has limited movement. He still moves around though.
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post #25 of 72 Old 02-19-2016, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
Without a scope its really not possible to say that a horse definitely does or doesn't have ulcers and while on the one hand your 'people' are telling you that he doesn't show signs of ulcers his behavior when being girthed actually does,
I've put a pic of the digestive system up so you can see where the stomach is and why girthing would cause discomfort if the horse does have stomach ulcers
Why not put him on a course of something like U-Gard and see if it makes a difference? Its not something that's going to hurt him if he doesn't have them
You can also give him a small high fibre feed before riding as that helps prevent acid from splashing up and getting in contact with the unprotected part of the stomach
Another thing that frequently gets overlooked and can cause extreme sensitivity to touch and pressure that results in very fractious behavior is Vitamin E deficiency - horses being fed only hay at certain times of the year with insufficient supplement in their feed can get very low - your vet can do a blood test to check levels
I know some horses can do this just out of naughtiness but its not something I expect from a horse that's otherwise nice natured, good to handle and a willing ride such as your one sounds to be
Those are some very good points. I will try U-Gard. Do I need a prescription or is it something I can get over the counter?

He may well be deficient not only in vitamin E, but in other vitamins and trace minerals. This is in another thread, but it has been a challenge to get the BO to give him all his supplements. They feed well below the recommended ration because they don't feel the horses need the calories, but of course that means, they are not getting the minimum doses of vitamins and minerals. I've tried different feeds, but either he won't eat them, or the BO doesn't like them and is not feeding them. I am giving supplements, but am still looking for one that has everything he needs in a palatable and practical form.

Long story short, he is probably deficient in various vitamins and minerals and I am still trying to rectify this.
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post #26 of 72 Old 02-19-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by beau159 View Post

This is sometimes when I will take it "literal" to treat my horse like another horse. In a case like this, where I know he is going to bite and the horse knows I am going to correct him, I may literally CHARGE him while yelling like a crazy banshee. Basically, scare the crud out of the horse. Make them realize what a huge mistake it was to even "fake bite" at me.

This works especially well if they are loose like you say when you are leading him to the arena. Make him move those feet away from you and mean it. Carry a small crop in your free hand if you need to. Do what you need to do to make the horse think he just made the biggest mistake of his life.

Make the "I'm-going-to-kill-you" last for about 3 seconds, then pretend nothing happened and go about your business as you were. Of course, you have to respond to the bite immediately when it happens.
Ok, will try this! When you describe it, it makes me think of how horses react to each other when they get out of line. It's a lot of showiness, but very little actual physical contact. Worth a try! I'm chuckling already picturing the look on his face when I go all ape$hit on him.
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post #27 of 72 Old 02-20-2016, 04:04 PM
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You can buy U-Gard 'over the counter' or order online - no prescription needed, there are other similar products but its the one I use and have had good results with it
Another thought - encysted strongyles will also cause pain in that area when girthed and they can sit for months and even years unless the horse is wormed with Moxidectin
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post #28 of 72 Old 02-20-2016, 04:17 PM
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"If that's true, use the arena to your advantage. Put him facing into a corner when you tighten the girth, this will limit the amount he can move if there's a wall on one side (his right side), a wall in front of him, and you on his left side tightening the girth"
Never put yourself in a position where you could get trampled. Just keep the inside rein shorter and follow him as he walks in circles. He will quit. I've never seen a horse complete two circles when doing this.



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post #29 of 72 Old 02-20-2016, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jenkat86 View Post
I agree with most of this...sometimes though there is that 1 in 58349857348 chance that it is something physical. My mare acted the same way as OP's horse. The chiropractor came out and adjusted her, she was still the same. He came out again, noticed her ribs were out and adjusted her and she hasn't been cinchy since.

It was completely by chance that we figured it out this way.

OP, has he always been like this, or is it worse in the winter months?

Could you take a close up picture of the girth and billets when he is cinched up next time?

If it isn't physical- Foxhunter is absolutely right, it can take a very long time to correct the behavior.
This.

My gelding has always been horribly girthy. He knows he had better not bite at me, so he bites the air/at the saddle on whatever side I am not on.
I always figured he was being a huge jerk since there was "nothing medically wrong," so I'd bop him one in the nose if he showed me any part of his face during the girthing-up process.

Then it turned out that he has PSSM2 and girthiness is a super common symptom.
Now that the PSSM is being treated, he's barely girthy at all - he may pin his ears out of habit, but there's no biting at anything.

Not saying that PSSM is at all at fault in the OP's situation, but I just want to point out that a horse can be deemed 100% healthy by numerous highly competent vets and still have something medically wrong.


Of course, that being said, PSSM or not, my gelding knows that he's gonna get walloped if he tries to bite me. Pain is no excuse for a dangerous behavior like biting. He can demonstrate his discomfort in other ways [like biting his off-side] and I'll respect that, but he had better not try biting me.


For my gelding, since I know that he assesses the situation before biting, I know that he's gonna turn his head towards me for a few seconds before actually doing anything.
With him, when I see him thinking about putting his teeth on me, I warn him by saying "ah-ah-ah." Usually, because he knows that he's been caught, he immediately stops thinking about biting me. If he escalates by pinning his ears or actually nipping, I'll smack him hard on the neck and immediately return to whatever I was doing.

I rarely, like once every year, have to resort to actually hitting him. 99% of the time, "ah-ah-ah" is enough of a warning.
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post #30 of 72 Old 02-20-2016, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
You can buy U-Gard 'over the counter' or order online - no prescription needed, there are other similar products but its the one I use and have had good results with it
Another thought - encysted strongyles will also cause pain in that area when girthed and they can sit for months and even years unless the horse is wormed with Moxidectin
I researched it and it comes in many forms... pellets, paste and liquid. Do you recommend one over the other? And how long a course would you do?
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