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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hay y'all! Alright, so I know you've heard probably a million times that a girthy horse "isn't my fault" but in this case, I know it is! Ive got a 13 year old Quarter horse, paint gelding who is just the most sweet, precious boy. He tolerates just about anything and spooks at nothing.
However, when I bought him, he was a western horse, and I ride English (some western but when I was younger, and I much prefer riding English now). I noticed that after a few months of riding, he started getting very finicky when I would tighten the girth. He hadn't been doing that before, but the barn I purchased him from wasn't of the best quality, and I ascribed it to him not having a properly tightened girth during his stay at said barn.
I JUST learned about over-tightening being a thing. I mean I assumed that it was a thing, but I didn't think what I was doing was over-tightening.
The reason I'm asking for help is because the last time I went to ride, I reached under to get his girth, and he bit the top of my head. Like I said previously, he is a very gentle horse and it takes a lot to make him mad. I wasn't hurt or anything his teeth just bumped my head, it wasn't like he bit down and ripped some of my hair out or anything.
If it helps I've been tightening it to the point that I could only put one or two fingers in his girth, as that's what I was taught.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's a fleece girth, but I've tried others, elastic, no elastic, fleece, leather, etc. The saddle fits very well, I had one of my trainers, an experienced horse person, come to make sure before I even purchased it.
 

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The saddle may fit well, but it's possible you may be putting it on too far forward where it still pinches the horse's shoulders. It's unlikely the girth being too tight is the issue. Most often it's related to either technique (tightening too fast and hard, pulling hairs), ulcers, sore muscles from a muscle issue or vitamin deficiency, or the saddle doesn't fit/is causing pain. Even if the saddle fit a couple months ago it's still possible your horse has changed shape from losing or gaining weight, changing muscles from more work, etc.
 

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How quickly are you tightening the girth? Many horses like it put on the loosest holes and then walked slightly. And then walked and you tighten it a few more holes and rinse and repeat as necessary. I then stretch the front legs forward to make sure there are no wrinkles.

I have a mare and her son who have ALWAYS been very particular about their girth and so we can have a bit of a ritual. And then there are other horses that will let you crank it to the regular hole they use without saying a thing... but I find that being a bit kind a tightening it over time gives them time to adjust to the feeling better.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The saddle may fit well, but it's possible you may be putting it on too far forward where it still pinches the horse's shoulders. It's unlikely the girth being too tight is the issue. Most often it's related to either technique (tightening too fast and hard, pulling hairs), ulcers, sore muscles from a muscle issue or vitamin deficiency, or the saddle doesn't fit/is causing pain. Even if the saddle fit a couple months ago it's still possible your horse has changed shape from losing or gaining weight, changing muscles from more work, etc.
I am always very careful about placement because he has very sunken in shoulders from his previous owners.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
How quickly are you tightening the girth? Many horses like it put on the loosest holes and then walked slightly. And then walked and you tighten it a few more holes and rinse and repeat as necessary. I then stretch the front legs forward to make sure there are no wrinkles.

I have a mare and her son who have ALWAYS been very particular about their girth and so we can have a bit of a ritual. And then there are other horses that will let you crank it to the regular hole they use without saying a thing... but I find that being a bit kind a tightening it over time gives them time to adjust to the feeling better.
This might be the issue... I never thought about that being it, but I do tighten it relatively quickly I guess. I put one side on the first hole, then bring it up as far as i can get it on the other side, and then match on the first side.
 

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This might be the issue... I never thought about that being it, but I do tighten it relatively quickly I guess. I put one side on the first hole, then bring it up as far as i can get it on the other side, and then match on the first side.
That would be unacceptable for many horses. I never do it up all at once even with my most generous and least cinchy horses.
 

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the horse I ride is a bit sour about being girthed up. we have a ritual that he loves. I get the saddle all position on his back, pad pulled up in the gullet, and then reach under for the girth, then, I stand sort of facting him , looking at his face. when he puts his face forward, (instead of ears back, looking sourly back at me) , I click and give him a treat. then I immediately, not rushed, but not doddling, bring up the girth a notch. rinse and repeat, with a short time gap between each, maybe to finish picking his feet, or put on my half chaps. I intersperse the bit by bit girth tightening with other things, and the treat.

I did, however, train him to put his head forward for the treat first, with many repeats and clicks, before bringing the whole girthing part of the equation.

now, he looks forward to girthing because he gets like 4 small treats (2 each side).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Success!!

I went riding today, and while tacking up, before I reached under him fully to just grab the girth (ALWAYS the part that will make him bite) I just rubbed his girth area a little bit. At first he was very mad, and had his ears back, and even turned to look at me bearing his teeth. When he realized that I was just giving him a little scratch on the tummy, his ears perked right up! Then I reached under with my right hand, and kept petting his neck with my left hand. He protested a bit, but all in all it was successful! Once I had the girth attached to at least one hole on each of the sets of billets and just began moving one hole up on each side, slowly, and then stretching his legs to make sure there were no wrinkles that would pinch him, he went along just fine! I'll post a video of our ride today that my boyfriend took.
 

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Yes, some horses just find it rude if you tighten the girth all at once. I always get it to where it touches the belly, then go up one hole at a time from side to side. I used to do treats with my mare too, when I first got her because she'd had bad experiences with someone just hauling the girth up tight. It helped her see it as a more positive thing. Glad to hear it's working for you.

It's interesting how some people have just always done things a certain way and not thought much about it. A friend of mine who has ridden for years watched me put a bridle on and how I lifted each side of the crown piece and pushed the ear forward to slide it underneath. She thought that was so nice and gentle, and it had never occurred to her to not drag the horse's ears backward and smoosh them under the leather. She tried it with her horse and could tell he really appreciated not having his ears smashed too. But no one had ever taught her another way. :)
 

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I know with my little man, if you tried doing his girth up all at once like that, you would lose your face. He is very particular about his girths, even to the material used. Sometimes I won't even do up the girth, just hold the side up until he settles, then do one billet. When in the arena, he is allowed to walk while I finish tightening his girth.

I know another who would likely explode if you tightened the girth fast.

I always give the belly a rub before girthing, both giving them a forewarning and letting me feel if there is anything hiding in their hair. If they protest I just keep rubbing or scratching.
 
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