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My Tb/Paint Catie is honestly one of the sweetest horses I have worked with.

Here she is...



She is very sweet, and everyone comments on how nice she is! My parents even love to help me with her (usually they are scared of horses)

Here is my problem;
I've had her for almost 5 monthes now, and we have gotten really far with her already. When I first got her, the owner said she is a bit "girthy". I figured, typical mare, I've delt with it before. It was fine when i first tacked her up, just pinned her ears and got antsy when i tightened the girth. But she has been getting worse. Now she is agressive even when I am brushing her, and goes to bite me when I just put the saddle pad on. Last week she bite me for the first time just when i was putting the saddle pad on her back, I didn't even do anything wrong. So that was a wake up call for me, because like I said she is the horse in the barn that everyone loves.

Do you have any suggestions to help her with her agression? Or to show her that putting on the saddle/grooming/tacking up is not a punishment?

Thanks for your time for reading my thread! :)
 

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I just watched a training session with Julie Goodnight and this same issue. I would suggest you watch it or get her video. Great progress in a short amount of time on the TV show. I am sure you can just get that video. You could tell the owner was causing alot of issues with saddleing quickly also. Too long to explain but well worth watching. I saw it in RVDTV and usually shows reruns
 

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Are you tightening the saddle in stages? I will place the saddle on and tighten the cinch the first time just tight enough to keep the saddle from falling off. I then do something else like putting on the breast collar and go back and tighten some more. I don't do a final pull until right before I mount up.
If there aren't any physical reasons for her to be girthy, look to how you are doing the whole procedure.
 

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While my guy is not girthy in the least I always tighten in stages. I put the girth in the first hole on the off side, move to the near side, 2st hole again then go back to the off side and tighten to where I want it.
I then put the headstall on and leaving the near side loose walk the first 100 yards, stop , tighten the near side to the desired spot, mount and ride out. This has nothing to do with girthy. I just consider it good horsemanship.
I always, always walk the last 100 yards also with the saddle loosened and lead the horse.
 

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That to me sounds like she is hurting somewhere. My guy has chronic back paina nd when it is bad he bites at me when I brush that area and when I put the pad on his back - When it isn't as bad he pins his ears and snakes his head when I do the girth up.

It might be worth getting a chiropractor/bodyworker to have a look - When I got my guy done last time he was out in a muscle that stretches across the girth area which was contributing.

If you rule out pain, then I agree with the others, girth and ungirth slowly, in stages. Moving the horse in between tighteing helps as well. Loosening the girth a short while before taking the saddle off allows the blood to start flowing a bit slower, and stops their back and loins from going from hot to cold too quickly, which can also result in soreness.
 

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Judging by your description and her picture, it sounds like a pain issue to me. In the picture, her eyes look uncomfortable. I'd recommend you get her back checked and maybe give her a break from saddle work and see if she get's better, also check your saddle fit. Once you can rule out pain, then I'd suggest coming back here again if the issue still persists. In the mean time, if she needs to be groomed/saddled etc keep your elbow up so she punishes herself is she runs into you, and take it slow. Don't stop brushing until she relaxes, and then release the pressure. Like others have mentioned, be steady with girthing up and do it hole by hole over a period of time.
 

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I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that she's only getting worse because you let her. This sounds a LOT like my guy, who has a big space bubble...you have to earn your way into it, if you just walk right up to him, he gets very ****y very quickly. What are you doing to correct him when he does turn back towards you while tightening the girth, brushing, etc?
 

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Are you tightening the saddle in stages? I will place the saddle on and tighten the cinch the first time just tight enough to keep the saddle from falling off. I then do something else like putting on the breast collar and go back and tighten some more. I don't do a final pull until right before I mount up.
If there aren't any physical reasons for her to be girthy, look to how you are doing the whole procedure.

Just watched that episode today, she did a GREAT job with that horse!!
 

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Being girthy and being sensitive to grooming/aggressive to grooming is a massive sign of gastric ulcers.

There are the regular fixes like gastroguard, which require a vet diagnosis, scoping, and paying ridiculous amounts for a month blast with the medication. Or, I have seen results and heard extremely many reviews of the herbal/natural supplement by Dynamite, called Miracle Clay. It is volcanic ash that has amazing calming methods, for poultice, internal medicine, etc. I've taken it personally before, and it is so awesome. It is far cheaper and you don't need a prescription or a scope, which is invasive enought that it's my last resort if they don't respond to the Miracle Clay.

I've seen results within 2 days of starting the clay, horses being completely different in demeanor. It's sweet.

I digress, your horse sounds like it has ulcers. Is he/she competed heavily? Was she before you got her? She's lovely, she looks like a great quality upper level HUS horse.

Think about it!
 

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Well, my mare is...or should I say, used to be the same way. If you even went near her girth/breast collar area, she'd stick out her head and aggressively bite several times. Every time she did that I'd take the front of my and and just slightly smack it on her side and say "NO!". Ever since then, she hasn't tried to bite or anything when I groom around there. She still sorta does it when I'm tightening the girth, but not like she used to. She doesn't do any heavy competing, but she used to barrel race and pole bend a while ago.
 

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I too have a similar problem with my mare, which progressively got worse since i got her last year (not helped by a badly fitting saddle but that got rectified months ago and it still got worse)
Your horse may assocaite the saddle with pain (or even just an uncomfortable feeling from doing up the girth) and therefore, you need to desensitise her from the saddle and girth. With my horse, I began with a cloth, coming up to my horse and placing it on her back, around her withers, from both sides and rubbing her girth area until i could throw the cloth on her back without her making faces or opposing. I moved up until i was using a heavy towel from my house lol, much heaVIER THAN a saddle cloth, doing this every time i groomed for a few minutes until it didnt bother her at all. I then did the same with the saddle cloth, so she didnt always think she was going to be ridden when the saddle and saddle cloth were brought into view, until I could saddle her without her turning and bearing her teeth. She learnt suprisingly quickly to stand still while i saddle her (considering at times i had to get a friend to hold her headcollar as she got so bad with the saddle being put on!!) she is still not great with the girth being done, but i do it very gradually like others suggested, and shes getting better :)
i know its not nice to deal with but its worth giving this a go as i no longer dread tacking my pony up!! and i think gettng her back checked will be a good idea too ... good luck!
 

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I've actually tried that method samskye said, and I honestly got nothing. I just felt like it was a waste of time. That's not to say it doesn't work, it absolutely works for some horses probably. If I'm doing something wrong (such as what I did to make her stop in my last post), someone please tell me. But...all I can say is that what I did has worked, and works great! If I am doing it wrong, than I'll just go back to the method samskye mentioned and try it again. Great advice though samskye!!
 

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Have you thought about having a chiropractor out? I have had one a few time for my mare and when i thought she was being bad it was actually just a pain thing and she was "out" ... make sure you get an equine chiropractor, your vet might be able to recommend one. They really can do wonders!
 

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My granddaughters barrel mare started doing this same thing, started with pinning ears, then went to reaching around like she would bite, then ended with her biting. We had to have one of us hold her head, the other would saddle and cinch her up. We could even give her a piece of rope or the lead rope and she would actually bite it while we were saddling her.
We tried different cinches, different blankets, different saddles, slow cinching, slow everything and it got worse and worse.
We finally had a Chiropractor work on her and her back and withers were giving her major pain. After he adjusted her, we had no problems.
He asked if she had fallen and we remembered that she had slipped in the mud and went down hard, she got back up and shook herself off, but acted a bit stiff the next day. After thinking about it more, that was the time she started biting. He said a slip of front or back feet while playing, running, kicking, etc. or a complete fall could easily have hurt her.
Get her checked out.
 

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It could be that the saddle no longer fits her and is causing pain. Make certain that there are no "lumps" in the saddle and have a saddle fitter look at how it fits your horse.

My saddle had to be adjusted 3 times in one year as my mare was developing so much muscling in her topline the saddler had begun to pinch her.
 

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A Couple of things;

1> Ulcers usually have a bunch more signs than just Girthy.
2> Saddle fit etc can be the cause but usually its not.
3> Back out etc can be the cause but it will show up in the gait and stride also.

So to me it sounds alot like "I don't want to." Riding means work and work it is. Willingness to do the work is one of the three things that are usually the underlying causes of most issues.

The other two are respectful and trying.

All mares go thru the "I don't want to" syndrome. Kiknd of goes with the gender. Lots of ways to work on it but if I has already goten to aggression--and biting is definately a form of aggression-- then it seems like there are some respect issues also.

A suggestion: put her in the middle of a round pen and try to saddle her. If she shows any sign of aggression or "I don't want to" move her feet--and I mean move her feet for a while. Ask her to stop and then try again. Same thing but move her feet longer and longer until she realizes that the best way out is for her to stand like a lady and accept the saddle. Kind of like-- you are going to work anyway and the work is much harder when you act like a """.

Lots of positives to this-- Human controls horses feet, horse will do the work with or without the saddle, Human is the leader--horse is the follower, etc.
 

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Like the majority of the posters here, i would guess she is in some kind of pain. Everyone on HF recommends chiropractors but there honestly isn't one in my area so I became a massage therapist to help our rescues.

The muscular knots that she would be experiencing are pretty easy to identify. If she is cinchy, she may have a knot or series of knots in the heart of the girth area. Right behind the elbow. It could feel like a pea in a pod or possibly a very meaty string. If the saddle fit is off and you fix the saddle but not the muscle spasms that have occured, you just wasted your money. Feel all in the area where your saddle sits. Really take your time, start by lightly petting and leave up when she swings at you! At the withers you would be looking on either side of the actual bone looking for 'peas'. If you find anything or she is really ouchy in her back area, I would call in a chiro or a massage therapist.

My only other suggestion is really obvious. Dont 'live' with it. Once being cinchy is a habit, it takes a long time to break.
 

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A Couple of things;

1> Ulcers usually have a bunch more signs than just Girthy.
2> Saddle fit etc can be the cause but usually its not.
3> Back out etc can be the cause but it will show up in the gait and stride also.


So to me it sounds alot like "I don't want to." Riding means work and work it is. Willingness to do the work is one of the three things that are usually the underlying causes of most issues.

The other two are respectful and trying.

All mares go thru the "I don't want to" syndrome. Kiknd of goes with the gender. Lots of ways to work on it but if I has already goten to aggression--and biting is definately a form of aggression-- then it seems like there are some respect issues also.

A suggestion: put her in the middle of a round pen and try to saddle her. If she shows any sign of aggression or "I don't want to" move her feet--and I mean move her feet for a while. Ask her to stop and then try again. Same thing but move her feet longer and longer until she realizes that the best way out is for her to stand like a lady and accept the saddle. Kind of like-- you are going to work anyway and the work is much harder when you act like a """.

Lots of positives to this-- Human controls horses feet, horse will do the work with or without the saddle, Human is the leader--horse is the follower, etc.
All three of these things are wrong.

If you believe they are true, please back them up with references.

Ulcers CAN have many signs. They can also just have one out of ten. Some horses are reluctant to go forward. This can be (linked, SCIENTIFICALLY) traced to ulcers. (The acid in the stomach sloshes forward into the more sensitive regions of the stomach where the cells are not protected. This hurts.) Some horses don't eat. Some horses have NO symptoms except 'eh' and have major ulcers. Do not denounce something you do not understand well.

Saddle fit is a MAJOR, MAJOR cause of back pain and horses being snarky about being saddled. ESPECIALLY if they start to get worse for no reason. The behavior does not reward itself--the mare is bad, and the OP rides her anyway. There is no REWARD to make the mare get worse, which means it is almost ONE HUNDRED PERCENT pain related. Please look up positive and negative reinforcement. There is absolutely no reason in the world for the mare to get worse UNLESS the OP started putting her back in her stall/pasture instead of working her, which i seriously doubt.

Also, why would the mare be crabby about grooming if she just 'didn't want' to be ridden?

And lastly, back soreness almost never shows up as lameness. It shows up in lack of range of motion, stiffness to one side or in general, a guarded way of moving (which is hard to diagnoise if you have always seen the horse move with back pain), CRABBY TO BE SADDLED, etc. A personal friend of mine had FIVE saddles to try on her mare and she would dance, move around, and bite. She got a saddle pad raiser to lift the saddle off the mare's withers, and imagine that... NO more crabbiness.

To the OP:

I highly suspect ulcers.

Your mare has muscling and a 'tucked up' look to her abs that suggest ulcers. Could you post a picture of her standing square?

You may not have to treat ulcers with medication. Is she in a stall? Get her moved to pasture right away. If this is not an option (Although it is the very best for her), then make sure she has food in her stomach at all times. Horses produce acid in their stomach whether or not she is eating. (Humans only produce acid when we eat.) If she does not have something to soak up the acid (hay, grass, etc.) she almost 100% will get ulcers. This is why pasture is good.

Also, I would try feeding her hay as you groom her and tack up. When you ride a horse on an empty stomach, the acid that the stomach produces without fail is just jumping around in her stomach the entire ride. You could buy a cheap anti-acid supplement and see if it makes any changes--if so, she definitely has ulcers and then we have a range of ways to treat it. Keeping food in front of her, whether it be grass or hay, will also heal it, but it will take much longer.

Keep us informed!

(Clearly my horse has had ulcers before so I am not talking out of my you-know-what. ;) )
 
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