help! horse nips when putting on the saddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy help! horse nips when putting on the saddle

hi there,
my name is bella and i recently bought my first horse. i am quite new to this so i have a few questions.

i have a 15 year old stock horse. she is 15h

shes super quiet, never does a thing wrong.

recently when putting on the saddle, she tries to nip me (just with her lips, she never bites)

im just wondering why this could be? the saddle fits perfect. she does flinch when i touch her back though, but not every time i do this.

im getting a little worried because i need this to be under control before she thinks its okay to nip me!
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 07:53 AM
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She may be trying to tell you that something is uncomfortable with the saddle or pad. Is there someone who can help you in person?
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 08:23 AM
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Welcome to the forum.

She could have ulcers as being cinchy can be a sign of ulcers, her sternum could be out and need adjusting, or her back could be sore, all possible causes for being cinchy.

How long have you had the horse? What is her diet like, concentrate, hay, pasture, supplements ect.? Do you board or is the horse at your property? Has she gone through any major changes in management?

I would first get an equine chiropractor out to adjust her, and also check the fit of the saddle. The chiro will probably the least expensive option to start with.


If that does not help get with the vet and discuss the possibility of ulcers.
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 09:39 AM
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I'm thinking its as simple as you are over tightening the girth ... tightening it more than the previous owner and shes saying to you ... back off some!!

Most folks crank it down way to much ... I like to be able to slide my hand between the girth and the horse.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 10:51 AM
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It could be any of the problems mentioned. There are horses that will nip for attention. There is a gelding at my barn who will and while it's not a good habit he means no malice. Your mare is definitely trying to tell you something if this is a new thing. If it is just a matter of being cinched too tightly as Blueriver said, you can work on that. I never cinch a horse as tight as needed when I first saddle up. I always walk the horse for a minute or two and then take the cinch up again before mounting. The cinch does not have to be any tighter than when you still can get your four fingers under it. I would try working on cinching first and if the problem still persists consider calling a chiropractor.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 01:13 PM
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It concerns me that you say she flinches when you touch her back sometimes. After you ride and take the saddle off, place your fingers at the top of her withers with her spine falling in between your fingers. Gently press down (not squeezing the spine but pressing down on the flesh next to her spine) and slide your fingers down the length of her back. Then return back to withers and repeat this time giving a gentle squeeze, release inch by inch down her back. If she drops her back or shows any signs of discomfort then her back is sore. This could be due to poor saddle fit but other things can cause it as well.

I agree with previous posts, I would have a chiropractor out to adjust her. You might also ask them to double check the fit of your saddle or see if anyone knows of a saddle fitter in your area just to confirm that your saddle is fitting as well as you think it is.

Lastly, it could also be as the previous post mentioned that you are either tightening the girth too quickly and/or too much. When I first put the girth on I leave it quite loose---pretty much on the first hole at which I encounter contact with their stomach, i.e. tight enough to hold the saddle on while finishing tacking but certainly not tight enough to ride in. Then I usually tighten it 1-2 more holes before I walk to the arena and tighten it 1-2 more holes right before I get on. This makes the girth tightening a slower, more pleasant process and also gives them time to let out air if they are the type to puff up during girthing.To make sure that you don't over tighten, you should be able to fit your hand between the girth and your horse---it should feel snug and secure but not super tight and constricting.
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 03:16 PM
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changes? changes in saddle, riding time, ?

how long did you saddle her that she did NOT react this way?

is she starting any other behaviors that are pushing on you a bit.?

sometimes a horse is bought who has great manners, but the new owner does not know how to enforce them, so little by little, the horse is allowed to get away with more and more, until new owner notices some bad habits.

but, if the hrose is flinching when touched (firmly), then consider physical reasons for this response and consider tack changes, perhaps not tacking up correctly (saddle not positioned correctly or girth too tight or?)
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 03:55 PM
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The OP says that she recently bought this horse.

Did you have a pre-purchase exam?

Since you are new to this Bellarosie I'd get some professional help ~ bring in a saddle fitter, chiropractor or vet to help diagnose the issue. Especially since she is "so good and never does a thing wrong", that's a sign of a well trained horse, so she is trying to tell you something by this behavior.

If it's a training issue it needs to be nipped in the bud immediately but you don't want to punish her because she's trying to tell you she's in pain. Dealing with horses can be incredibly complex.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 04:54 PM
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Thats the thing about a wonderful website with so many talented members. All very good information!!!

My grandpa taught me how to mount and dismount without any rigging on the saddle!! He called it balance control ... said one should be able to put your foot in the stirrup and step up with out the saddle girth. And dismount ... said when you learn that I let you use a girth.

Reminds me some years back after several hrs of working momma cows and dragging calfs to the iron fire all of a sudden one of my friends Yelled "STOP, you've got a problem!!" He pointed out that my girth was hanging down about an inch ... he was scared for me ... I kinda laughed and said "it'll be all right" I reached in my shirt pocket for a smoke, on purpose dropped the pack
and simply reached down and snatched it up off the ground!!

Point is ... we do not have to count on the girth. Balance control is key.
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-07-2015, 06:20 PM
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I second BlueRiver.... I learned to ride bareback and to this day I still prefer to ride without a saddle. But I also understand that isnt exactly feasible all of the time.

I would definitely do some hands on with your mare to see if you notice any sore spots. A good way to check for a saddle not fitting properly is to check the sweat pattern when you remove your saddle..If she has 2 areas on either side that look dry, or even a completely different lay in her hair..you will know that the saddle is probably putting more pressure in that spot than it should be.

Call or ask around and see if there is anyone in the area that could come and help with some more experience. A good place to start checking for free help(even though just about any good horseperson worth their salt would help you for free), but 4H and FFA groups(you may need to call your Extension Office)..

But if you do decide it isn't saddle fit and its not just her trying to get you to stop to be a brat( I have a mare that will try the same thing, only she is just trying to get out of being worked) then a chiro is a great person to start with next. You've gotten a lot of great advice, following the previous posters' advice you should have an answer for sure..Best of luck!! There is nothing quite like the relationship you will develop with a good horse <3
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