Why does my horse try to bite me when I girth up?

Having trouble doing up the girth on your horse? Here, vet Toby Kemble explains what you can do. 

Doing up the girth can cause temporary discomfort 

Doing up the girth can cause temporary discomfort 

Q: When I do the girth up on my mare she sometimes turns around and tries to bite me. She also stops at fences for no reason. I've asked my vet if it's ulcers and he said probably not. Should I get another opinion? 

A: Gastric ulcers are relatively common in horses who are stable most of the day and fed large quantities of concentrated feed.

This is most common in the racing industry so there's a lot written about gastric ulcers, often encouraged by the manufacturers of ulcer treatments.

In horses that are kept mostly at pasture, being fed on high roughage, low-concentrate diets and in a stress-free environment, the condition is relatively uncommon.

Is the girth uncomfortable?

Doing a girth up can cause mild, temporary discomfort or irritation and your horse is trying to persuade you not to do it! 

This may even be a saddle issue so get it checked out by a saddle fitter. Horses will often stop at fences, but this is just as likely to be an equitation issue. 

Your vet's probably right that the cause isn't ulcers, but if you want to rule it out, the only option would be to get him to perform a gastroscopy on your horse. 

If he's unwilling, then find a vet who is willing to, but bear in mind your vet's probably bring to save you the cost and inconvenience of a procedure that probably isn't going to give you an answer.