Teaching your horse to have a good attitude about a surcingle/girth

“Girthiness” is a fairly common issue, especially with mares. However, this behavior is often overlooked instead of being addressed. Their responses may vary; it may be anything from biting, kicking, fussiness or pinned ears. But in any case we can change our horses attitude about the girth or surcingle. And the good news is that it isn’t difficult to do! In this case, Willow’s horse is just learning about this new sensation so it is going to be a quicker fix than a horse who has been habitually grumpy when the girth is tightened. However, it will still be a similar process. One thing to remember, that isn’t addressed in the video answer, tightening the girth in small increments is going to be one of the ways that you can set your horse up for success, so remember to go slow. Also, as a standing rule…before getting started with training, always rule out any physical cause when your horse shows any change in behavior or has a cranky reaction.


3 Responses to “Teaching your horse to have a good attitude about a surcingle/girth”
  1. Thank you for the opportunity to share on this topic about “grithiness” . I wanted to emphasize the importance of your last comment.

    I unfortunately listened to a trainer when my mare was objecting to her girth. I hadn’t been riding for a few months and had brought her to a new boarding facility in South Carolina for a three month vacation.

    The trainer was taking my mare out on a trail ride to the beach and my mare was objecting to the girth (and probably the trainer too) in a HUGE way. The trainer said, “tell her it’s too bad, she has to do it and just put the saddle on”.

    I remember doubting myself as I turned the control over to the trainer and watched my girl ride away. I have had a very hard time forgiving myself.

    According to some of the other riders on the trip, my mare was reprimanded quite often for “misbehaving” on the trail ride. When they got back my mare collapsed in pain.

    We called the vet and they diagnosed a severe colic with a toxic line and told me that she wouldn’t live through the night. As it turned out it wasn’t a blockage – it was an ulcer that she had developed while we were in this high stress training barn.

    Another key sign is when the horse lays down on the ground but not rolling around like a colic but just lays there clearly in distress, or rolls up to get their feet up in the air which relieves pressure from the bottom of the tummy.

    After doing the research I found that increased pain in horses with ulcers happens when tightening the girth. I never knew how common ulcers were in horses.

    I was relieved that she lived through the night and over several weeks she regained her strength. She is thriving today with the ulcers under control using a natural clay remedy from Dynamite.

    Now I listen to my horses first on any related issue of discomfort, they try to tell us what we need to know if we can just learn to listen. Barbara EponaRidge.com

  2. Barbara, I am really glad your horse recovered. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping to raise everyone’s awareness.

  3. I am so glad your horse recovered! I would love to know more about this clay remedy for ulcers from Dynamite.

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