my horse is "girthy"

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  • lovehorses <3 Original Poster lovehorses <3
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 0

    Hello. Im sure a lot of riders have this problem and fixed it but i dont know what to do. Whenever I go to get her girth on she is fine but when i go to th other side to tighten it she tries to bite me. even worse after i put the bridle on and go to check the girth and once i put my fingers under it to see if its tight enough she tries to bight.
    Please help.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have been an equine therapist for over 35 years and find that girthy horses are typically very tight in the abdominal oblique muscles which will radiate up to the longissimus muscle on the top line. So I would suggest have some body work done but if no one is in your area, once saddled work on trot canter transitions (5 trot 5 canter strides) this loosens up the back end quickly and then begin to ask for your horse to lift up the back and do lots of circles and serpentines to help stretch the muscles

    Rhinestone Cowgirl Rhinestone Cowgirl
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 20

    Your mare is definitely trying to tell you something is bothering her. Frequently girthiness is associated with ulcers, which are fairly common in horses in work. Treatment with GastroGard® (omeprazole) is highly effective, and following treatment there are several ways to help prevent ulcers from recurring. If you aren’t already familiar with treating and managing ulcers, there is much information on this topic on the web, and even the SmartPak Ask the Vet blog. Go to the blog page then you can type Ulcers in the blog search field and it will pull up several articles if you want to read further. By the way, scoping is great for diagnosing, but we actually skipped the scope and went ahead and treated our senior gelding with Gastrogard when ulcers were suspected, and the resolution of his symptoms following treatment was confirmation of the suspected diagnosis, and saved us the cost of the scope.

    Western Pleasure, Hunter/Jumper, Working Cow...there's an App for that!

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 22

    I had a mare like that once. We had her checked out to make sure nothing was physically wrong her and the vet couldn’t find anything. I met a lady at the stables where I used to ride once a week and she came up with the solution. She told me to not tighten the girth all the way, initially. Bring it under and attach it loosely. Walk her around in a small circle, then tighten it a little more, and keep repeating until it was where it should be. She told me she had a mare who had become soured on tightening the girth because her first owner would make it too tight. She said it’s like a belt. Some can tolerate it being tightened all at once, and some are just sensitive to it. I followed her advice, and after a while my mare didn’t mind being cinched up at all. I hope this helps.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I agree with everything everyone has said. You should always tighten the girth in increments. I would put it on as loose as possible, walk her around, tighten a second time, and maybe work her a little on the ground or continue walking, and then before I mount, tighten one more time. I have often seen a horse be slapped on the side in preparation for tightening the girth. I would NEVER recommend that. Also, regarding the potential for ulcers: you hopefully can find a vet that will do free ulcer scoping. Sometimes they work with the pharmaceutical company to do the free scoping. Take advantage of that if you have it in your area. And finally, just check to make sure there are no girth galls, tick bites, etc., which I’m sure you’ve already done. She may also have a sensitive stomach which might call for some pre and/or probiotics.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I have a pony that does the same thing. I like to put on the girth very loosely then tighten it slowly, then give him a treat. Also I will get him out just to put the saddle on and put him away so he does not think that every time I crank on the girth I am going to work him hard.

    equestriangirl1223 equestriangirl1223
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Try seeing if there are any cuts,sores or pain where the girth goes. also try a more comfortable girth and different materials of girths. also try a different size. and if she goes to bite you get mad at her/him if she does it. make sure nothing is rubbing. it also could be a bad material or brand.make sure she/he knows your there rider and you love him/her and that your the boss. Hope it helped!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Girthiness is not always as simple as people would make it out to be.. definitely rule out stomach ulcers because they are not only common but when they become more severe can be very painful and can lead to long term nutritional and health issues. Next, it is extremely important to make sure your saddle fits, and that you are using a soft, flexible girth with elastic on both ends. Your horse may not be reacting to pain from the girth directly but could be unhappy about the anticipation of being ridden for whatever reason, be it an ill-fitting saddle, pain or lameness in another part of her body, or maybe there is something going on in her riding/training that is making her uncomfortable that a trainer could help you with. There also can be damaged soft tissue along the breast and sternum, or problems with the sternum itself, but that is much less common. Unfortunately though, sometimes they really are just girthy, as much as people will try to explain away every case, it could be stemming from one bad experience in the horse’s past, or just a nasty habit with no underlying cause — many thoroughbreds are this way. Whatever the case is, you will have to learn to respect it and make girthing up as slow and tolerable as possible. Do not try to discipline her (unless she bites you, then I do let them know that they crossed a line) and do not try to crank it up anyway with the idea that she will “get used to it”, this can lead to your horse folding down to the floor or rearing or flipping over which is not only dangerous but will make the process more stressful and reinforce the behavior. Once she learns that you are not going to crank the girth up quickly/harshly and that you understand and want to avoid causing her discomfort, she may be able to relax more during the process and the behavior may eventually fade away. Good luck and be safe!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    Agree with the comments. Vet check is a good idea, and always tighten the girth one hole at a time. Also recommend checking saddle fit. Horses’ bodies change, and often they tolerate ill-fitting saddles for a long time. They can get to the point where they are so sore that they can’t take it anymore and express their pain when the girth is tightened. Also, if you have a massage therapist that you trust, a treatment may be in order. Your mare may need an adjustment. Good luck!

    DesertHorses DesertHorses
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 7

    Lots of greats suggestions and comments! One thing I would add is to make sure your horse has either had hay to nibble on or a small feed of hay pellets before starting work; this will make sure there is something in the stomach to buffer stomach acid. This can help prevent ulcers as well as make it more comfortable for a horse which already has and is being treated for ulcers.
    It’s also easy to carry a small plastic bag of hay pellets when on extended trail rides. Alfalfa is a great buffer because of the high calcium but any hay/hay pellet will help.

    Nebula Equine
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    A “Cinchy” horse is fairly common for many reasons from having skin pinched at some point making them sour to sore backs/withers and everything in between.
    One way I have found that works well for figuring out if the horse has an issue with the girth area is; take a soft lead rope and put it around the girth area of an unsaddle horse and pull tight slowly with your hands (DO NOT TIE). If the horse has no signs of being ” Cinchy” then there is most likely an issue with the saddle pinching or the horse is sore somewhere other then the girth area.
    Another common mistake people do is cinches a horse up quickly as tight as they can all at once, this can pinch skin or just cause discomfort in general. Take your time start with slightly snug and cinch up a hole or two several times before mounting.
    You can also gently stretch front legs forward to help prevent pinched skin. When stretching legs forward keep low to the ground and do not pull just support let the horse stretch against you.

    Hope this helps!
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I have found that “distraction” can be a very handy tool when faced with something painful, uncomfortable, disliked or unwanted.

    For example, when your animal is about to get a shot, scratch their ears or whatever their favorite itching spot is, and scratch them a little bit harder than you might normally. The trick is in the timing – start scratching them just a moment before the needle goes in. This approach will divert their attention to something they like, and because you are scratching with more pressure than usual, their total attention will be engaged — the shot will be given before they know what happened.

    With the girth issue, you have a routine of A) attaching it on one side, then B) going to the other side to tighten it. When you do “A” she is anticipating “B” and gets ready for her response – biting you. Therefore, your goal is to stop her from doing “B” — said another/better way, you want to give her a ‘new and improved’ step “B.”

    So, try changing that routine:
    0) Before you start: put a piece of bailing twine through the ‘other’ buckle of the girth (the buckle that will be attached later), so you can position the twine on the ground under the horse in order to easily pick it up when you move to the other side of the horse. By doing this, your action of reaching for the unattached end of the girth will not be detected by the horse. You can slowly pull the twine until the buckle is in your hand and then remove the twine.

    1) attach the girth to the saddle as you normally do; move the twine so it ready for you to pick it up on the other side
    2) fiddle with something else on that same side (maybe pull the stirrup down and put it back up again),
    3) pat her on the neck or wherever her favorite spot is
    4) go to the other side and pat her on a favorite spot
    5) fiddle with the saddle pad or something else
    6) pick up the end of the twine that is attached to the girth while fiddling with something, scratching her leg or asking her to lift her foot (YOUR OWN MIND is focused on whatever you are fiddling with – reaching for the girth, in your mind, is just something extra to do. Your mindset here is very important – she WILL read your mind.)
    7) gradually pull the twine until the end of the girth is in your hand. Scratch her with more pressure on her neck, chest, her leg or find something very interesting on her hoof
    8) place the buckle of the girth at the last (loosest) hole of the billet, but do not attach it. (If she goes into high-alert, keep the end of the girth in place, don’t move. With your other hand, fiddle with something else, scratch her somewhere else, until she relaxes a little and you can see that her attention has shifted. Don’t get frustrated if it takes a while — this is the part of the routine that you are trying to change and thus the hardest part of the process.)
    9) attach one buckle to the loosest hole of the billet, give her a rewarding pat or treat, provided she doesn’t try to nip
    10) go on to whatever you do after attaching the girth, or do something else that is not associated with the girth – pick out her feet, groom her some more, etc.
    11) while doing these other things, and with YOUR MIND focused on those other things, sneak in the step of attaching the other buckle to the loosest hole of the other billet, give her a rewarding pat or treat, provided she doesn’t try to nip
    12) follow the same approach to tighten the girth, one buckle at a time, one hole at a time. Take it slow, distract her with something she likes.

    A few questions for the behaviorists out there.
    ~~ Step 8: (Other end of girth has been positioned at the billet and ready to be attached.) If the horse does not relax, and if ‘lovehorses’ is not able to divert her attention, should she back off and a.) let the girth drop away while holding the twine, b.) return to earlier steps, or c.) Press on? How long can she wait for the horse to relax? (As Clint Eastwood says, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”)
    ~~ Step 9: (Attaching the buckle to the billet.) Concerning the notion of rewarding good behavior and not even acknowledging bad behavior — if the horse does try to nip (I’m thinking it would not be as aggressive as usual given attaching the buckle is happening unexpectedly) is it OK to ignore the nip and then reward a good behavior as soon as she can?

    Hope this is helpful to you. I know it’s long and detailed, but . . .

    “On Target Training” or “Clicker Training” might be something you can learn more about. Here is a link to the Search Results for Shawna Karasch, a true guru and trainer.

    Snickers Mom
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I have had this problem with a variety of horses over the years. Most recently the horse with the problem had an ulcer so I’d encourage you to get that checked. One horse needed his sternum adjusted. Some horses are just very sensitive. Try starting the girthing process from the left (near) side and then do the tightening from the right (off) side. There is a major nerve on the left that on some horses is more sensitive. Also, consider trying a wider girth to spread the pressure out and/or a girth that has some “give”. I find that many people girth their saddles too tightly. You should be able to put your hand under the girth at the sternum (midline).

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I suggest first having a vet check to Rule out ulcers. some people have their horse scoped. others just try omeprazole for a month. If your horse has ulcers, try to feed frequently so there is always something in the tummy to digest. also you can use U gard liquid, albout 12 ccs just before riding. any travel, such as to a show, can cause an ulcer. they are far more common than we expect, and are easy to prevent once you are educated about them. keep omeprazole on hand.

    If it is not ulcers, then you could try a good accupressure or accupuncture evaluation. In my experience it is always a good idea to have a vet rule out any kind of pain problem and treat it. then look at your saddle….try every way to make sure your horse is not in pain, or anticipating pain, when you prepare to ride.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    My name is Ashley and my Mare has been very girthy since I met her four years ago at JWU. I have also helped many horses over come this problem ovef the past few years. I looked up some reasons why she could be, and found that the horse may have ulcers, or back problems.
    But also the way I helped her to over come this was I went really slowly when tighting it, but the bezt thing that really helped were treats, or hay…try giving your horse treats, before! You even reach under to grab the girth…the best treat would be something that would keep her mouth occupied for a while; so an apple, hay, carriots. And always tighten it slowly, If your horse transfers to trying to kick you he/she may have something else going on like ulcers or back pain.
    I hope this helps, and best of luck.

    Good luck
    Ashley ♥Spree♥

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