Why is girthing up a problem for my horse?

Watch your horse’s body language while she’s objecting to you doing the girth up. 

Some horses learn to do this to slow down the inevitable point where the rider takes charge.

Signs that your horse is comfortable and confidently 'delaying' you are a loose chin, curvy mouth, loose tail, which may be swishing a lot, and turning round to bite or nip. 

To help resolve the issue here are some things that you can concentrate on:

  • Working on your relationship
  • Ignoring the 'objections'
  • Girthing up as 'normal'
  • Tying the lead rope up short
  • Using a grazing muzzle while tacking
  • Wearing your riding hat, a body protector, stout boots ideally with steel toe caps and gloves will all help minimise the risk of your being injured by any 'objections'. 

If your horse has a tight chin, still, tight or clamped tail, straight mouth, or tends initially to move away from you or turns his head away, there may be pain or comfort issues and he may benefit from a second opinion from a qualified professional. 

Any change to the numnah, even a change in washing products, can lead to discomfort when saddling and a slightly thicker or thinner numnah can be sufficient to affect saddle fit.

Ask your vet to examine your whole horse, including his teeth and feet.

Make sure your bit isn’t damaged or with sharp edges and have a qualified saddle fitter check all your tack for soundness and fit – see www.mastersaddlers.co.uk.Riding.

Contact a behaviourist

For more detailed advice tailored to your horse's individual situation and specific needs, or help with your relationship or handling skills contact your nearest a SEBC Registered Equine Behaviour Consultant from www.societyofequinebehaviourconsultants.org

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