View Full Version : Girthy Horse

05-07-10, 05:07 PM
Sammie is a little 'girthy' when I put the saddle on. He has been like this ever since I have known him.
He knows that if he tries to bite he gets a sharp smack on the neck, so he now puts his ears back.
Is there a way to correct this?
I don't blame him for being girthy either. He has been a riding school pony for most of his life.
It isn't the saddle or pinching as I have tried multiple saddles and girths on him to find the 'right' saddle for both of us.

05-07-10, 05:40 PM
do you ride with a long girth? Gypsy HATES long girths...but is perfectly fine with long billets and a short girth

05-07-10, 06:18 PM
Sounds like he's had to put up with people just yanking the girth up for years........as you say, now he puts his ears back, so he has improved....
If you're not already, always girth him up slowly....one hole at a time....and alternate sides as well. Reward him if he does well, talk to him....reassure him you're not going to hurt him.

05-07-10, 06:37 PM
Either he has a muscle problem in the girth area (much more common than we think!) or he had a problem in that area and it has become a bad habit. Trouble its very hard to tell the difference. http://www.spinalvet.com.au/downloads/girth-pain.pdf some horse practitions believe horses dont make problems up. This is worth a read.

My advise is to get a good EMT'er out to give him a check over - you might be shocked or suprised at what they find.

And (advised by EMT'ers) long point girths put much more pressue on the muscles in the girth area than short point ones do.

05-07-10, 07:11 PM
Agree with horsesrgr8 and Autumn. Good advice.

I dont like smacking myself. Its too easy to get into a 'war' with them. Sure, I have probably had to hit a horse maybe 3 times in the last 10 years just off the top of my head, but I try not to unless truly dangerous.

Sometimes girthy horses are just doing the pin ears, wrinkle nose and snap snap thing but not actually biting. My limited experience (i'm not a professional and have not worked with hundreds or thousands of different horses/breeds etc) I ignore the carry on. I dont buy into their 'game'. I girth up very slowly. As in do a hole, then pick a hoof out, do up another hole, pick out another hoof etc. Also do lots of massaging and brushing in the area too. I never react unless they 'get' me. If they get me, they get a loud hand cupped slap at the base of neck. I have found that with some horses its a discomfort thing and that can be addressed by a body work professional - other horses its a habit. You just need to ride it out and break the habit. They will come round and stop the silly game. It may take a while - after all it took years to get this habit so inground in their brain.

I"m not a Parelli person per se but I tend to agree with some things Pat says that I have found to be true over the years. One that applies here is ¤gnore the bad behavoiur and reward the good and over time the horse will seek the reward and the bad stuff will just fall away" Not verbatim I should add. But that's the gist of it. They moment that your horse does not react to your girthing give him verbal praise and rubs in his favorite spot and make a huge fuss of him. Slowly change the habit from anxiety based to thinking girthing up is a good/happy thing.

Good luck!!

05-07-10, 07:14 PM
No, I don't like smacking myself, either, OakyPoke. It hurts waaaay too much. Specially on the side of the head. Makes my ears ring.

05-07-10, 07:16 PM
No, I don't like smacking myself, either, OakyPoke. It hurts waaaay too much. Specially on the side of the head. Makes my ears ring.

LOL you have no idea what an odd day I"ve had - I really needed that giggle! Thanks :-)

05-07-10, 07:17 PM
honestly, horserg8 is right. just up on hole at a time slowly and reward for good behaviour. just take it easy girthing up. you don't need to hurry it.

05-07-10, 07:18 PM
I agree with the others that it is either a current muscle problem or due to a past one.

There is such a thing as muscle memory and this means that even when the issue is resolved the horse anticipates pain and therefor reacts the same way as if it is in pain when there is no physical reason.

Make sure the saddle fit is perfect and there is no roll etc, check the girth fits correctly and doesnt exert undue pressure in any position, have the horse physically checked over and then start with re-education (eg girthing up slowly)

05-07-10, 08:09 PM
Northside/sunshine coast chiro - Annette 404 461 713, she is very good, my mare loves her.

05-07-10, 08:11 PM
sigh, i doubt there's anything wrong with the back

05-07-10, 08:18 PM
yes and of course you would know

Van Piper
05-07-10, 08:51 PM
Ex-riding school horse we came across in our travels actually had bruised and cracked ribs as well as sore muscles on the back, chest and along both sides.
He was in poor condition, with a sway back and no topline. A really big horse (around 17H) and only on paddock pick - no hard feed whatsoever.
Years of carting a heavy saddle around, incorrectly fitted, and having the girth done up double quick because he objected with teeth flashing and sometimes front leg striking out.
And years of urban cowboys galloping him along the trails.
Poor fellow was a mess.

Young lady who had ridden him when he was with the riding school had bought him and set about getting him right.
Good feed - the improvement in three months was absolutely amazing.
Chiro/vet - after he bucked her off she was persuaded to get someone in to check him, and this was when the cracked ribs and all the sore muscles were found.
Bute for the pain, exercises to make him lift his ribcage, stretching his front legs to open up the ribcage and so on.
Taught him(and her) to lunge so that he could get some exercise without being ridden.
She found out that the 18 year old horse she bought was actually 24, and he had been with the riding school for 14 years.
Teeth had never been done according to the horse dentist - no wonder he had trouble eating his good food.
12 months on he was a different horse, and the sway back had virtually disappeared, although he had a very high wither. His rear filled out and the poverty lines were no longer there.
She did a fantastic job with him.

Anyway, getting back to your problem, I think it would be a good idea to have your horse thoroughly checked out. Your horse could have deep bruising and possibly a cracked rib which of course would be extremely uncomfortable.

So vet/chiropractor and massage would be my recommendation.

Good luck. :)

05-07-10, 09:08 PM
His back will be checked...
But I think he is just being cheeky/naughty more than him being sore. He has bitten a girl at camp before who yanked his girth up. And I don't blame him at all.

I always girth up slowly. Once the saddle is on and you walk him to the arena/riding area, he is fine... its only when the saddle first goes on and is done up.
I put the saddle on very gently.

05-07-10, 09:09 PM
He could also be used to having his girth just reefed up to max without any time to stretch into it, possibly with a knee in the guts to stop him blowing out. Possible the whole saddling thing has been a nightmare for him for years.

Get him checked to rule out hurts and go gently, gently with the girth. hole or two at a time, do his boots...another hole or two..lunge and final trauma free tighten just before you mount.

06-07-10, 09:37 AM
I always do the girth up slowly from both sides then once I'm on, tighten more if necessary.
Apart from that, there's a little known laminitis diagnostic point where the girth sits, just behind the elbow & despite horses not appearing sore, they may well have an inflammatory process going on in one or both feet. We have one who exhibits nastiness if pressure's applied to that point if his feet aren't quite 100%.