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Horse sinks to its knees when girthed


My 14 year old daughter has a beautiful 8yr old horse which she has been competing for the last 5yrs in the english circuit. The last year or so we have been having problems with putting his girth on. He does not bite or kick what he does is bend his front legs and tries to go to the floor. This really freaks me out and I fear he will hurt my daughter or himself. When he does this we say a very loud NO or give him a shove and he will stop doing it. After you take him out of his stall he will be OK and does nothing else....Please try to help me I think this is getting worse and nobody tells me anything.

Thanks, Anita

Hi Anita,

Actually I have seen this issue about girthing quite a bit. So, it is not that uncommon. Sometimes the horse thinks it will not be able to breath and sinks. Anyway, you should be able to resolve it. Get him used to girthing by first taking a long terry towel, twist it and put it under his girth area. Have another person on the opposite (off) side of the horse. Then see-saw the towel quite a bit and pull it somewhat snug a few times. repeat this over and over for a few days and see what happens. Also, take a rope with an eye on one end, make a loop and put it around his belly (girth). Walk the horse forward and, as he moves ahead, alternately tighten and slack the rope around is girth. Don't walk too far before you stop pressure and movement and give a him Good Boy. Do this a few days or so and then tighten and slack the rope with the horse standing still for a day or two. Then go to the regular girth and saddle. Walk the horse forward while tightening the girth. Tighten slowly, stop often (every few feet) with released girth pressure and give a Good Boy. Consider trying to saddle him not in the stall, but someplace else and see what happens. Although I think the problem is not so much location orientated. He has this behavior as habitual now and old habits need time to change for humans and horses. Be patient. Let me know how it all goes.


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