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Biting when tacking up

Discussion in '2002 Archive of Posts' started by qwerty, Jan 19, 2002.

  1. qwerty

    qwerty Missing duke :'(

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    What do you do when you try and tack up a horse who tries to bite you.
    Bounty tried to bite be 3 times last Wednesday which is an improvement! Normally my mum comes in with me to hold her head so I can sort out her tack but it was just me last week and I had to rug her too. The moment I went into the stable I saw her ears were pinned back so I gave her a polo. That cheered her up but then she saw the birdle and took a swipe at me. I had my dressage whip with me so I flicked the end on her rug to make a noise. She was then OK for about a minute when she started again! I managed to tack her up in the end but then I took her through to the school and went to tighten the girth and she walked into me and tried to take another swipe! I made her walk back to where she was stood.
    Nina said I had done well with her but I don't think I could have done after all of that!
    She says to flick her on the end of her nose but I don't know how hard to do it and she would probably bite my finger when I went to to it!

    PLEASE HELP! Any advice welcome!
     
  2. Outrider

    Outrider New Member

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    This is actually a fairly common occurence. My horse does it now and then. I don't advocate hitting a horse anywhere on the head for any reason, even flicking the nose. You're right. Start that and you could end up losing a finger or two!

    It appears as if she dislikes an invasion of her space in the stall where you tack her up. The first thing I would do, is halter and lead her outside to a stout fence and tie her there, fairly short. Then bring out the tack and get it sorted out. Put the saddle on first. As you cinch up, pull the cinch OUT and then up. Most just pull up and this sometimes pinches the belly and causes the horse to nip.Once the saddle is cinched, undo the halter and reattach it around her neck and then put the bridle on. If she still tries to bite, I would carry a small crop and pop her on the chest with a loud NO. Hope this helps. Happy trails!
     
  3. ilovebacara

    ilovebacara silly moo :@)

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    before u hit the horse in any way check that there is no problem with the fitting of the tak! no lumps in your saddle or no sharp edges on the bit. Check for anything at all that may cause the horse any pain or discomfort. it may be that the saddle needs re flocking.
    if there is no probs with that then try and growl at the horse as it usually takes more notice of that rather that a smak on the nose!
    that works for me!!
     
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  5. qwerty

    qwerty Missing duke :'(

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    I'm not sure if I would be allowed at the stables but I will ask!
    What does cinch meen?

    Nothing seems to be wrong with the tack...checked that!

    When my mum had a horse she bit her once (and never again) because my mum bit her back!!! I wouldn't do that on a school horse though!
     
  6. floppy

    floppy Active Member

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    horses that are aggressive when you groom them or tack them up are a struggle.

    I use to ride a stallion that had the most awful stable manners, instead of tieing him up, you just had to drop the lead rope through the ring in the wall and hold onto the end the whole time you tacked up and groomed. If he went to bite you pulled the rope so he couldnt swing around and eat you and once he was relaxed you relax the line again.

    I also know a lady who has a terribly aggressive horse and he will bite anyone and everything if you are too close when he is being tacked up.

    ther eis also a mare at another riding school that pins her ears back when you do anything with her putting rugs on and off etc.

    there must be a way to cure them but i think one just has to learn how to deal with them kindly.
     
  7. Outrider

    Outrider New Member

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    The foot action you describe is not an attempt to kick you at all. Just telling you that she really doesn't want you to pick up the feet when she lightly swings them out a few inches as you pick them up. You are doing the right thing in reprimanding her when she does that. She is then telling you, "Ok, if you insist." Just wanted you to know that she is not trying to kick at all. Happy Trails and congratulations on doing so well with your first horse!
     
  8. Sapphire

    Sapphire New Member

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    Hi,

    First of all don't smack her anywhere near her face, you will make her head shy and she'll lose any trust she has of you. I'm sure you wouldn't punch someone in the face, so why do it with the horse? Also this can make the biting worse, if you have a fear, or the situation is uncomfortable and someone smacks you, you'll look at the events even more fearfully won't you?
    I suggest you make sure all of her tack fits perfectly, and she has no back pain, sores, muscle spasm, sore mouth etc. Check her girth area too, if in doubt get your vet to check.
    If she has the all clear, she might have had a bad scare some time back, make sure it's not fear. Are your riding lessons positive, and do you ride well? If no to any of these, she could be getting nervous because she knows she's going to be ridden. Pulling faces can be a sign of pain. Does she hold her mouth closed when you try to bridle her, does she throw her head up? Move to the back of the stable?
    A method I used on my 4 year old, I put her normal stable halter on then I would hold it with one hand, while using the other hand to groom etc. If she goes to bite, push her head sharply away, I then reward with by bringing her head back and stroking her and speak nice and softly, it really works.
    Hope this helps. Luv to all.
     
  9. qwerty

    qwerty Missing duke :'(

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    She is a school horse and does it to everyone. She is fine when riding and leading her and had no problem with you taking it off!
    She does turn around so her bum is in my face sometimes.
    Am I doing the right thing in giving her polos to get her to turn around of it that rewarding her ror being naughty. I just can't get her any other way.

    Outrider - is it me missing something orhave you posted on the wrong thread? Can't see anything on "kicking" and no-one has mensioned a 1st horse!
     
  10. I was going to ask what you meant by "swing" - swing her head - swing her bottom?
    Personally I do not believe in feeding tip bits at all. When you walk into the stable does she always get a polo?
    If so this could be part of the problem, they come to expect it - then DEMAND IT! As Outrider says put on a head collar, even if you are not allowed to tack up on the yard you could tie and tack her in the stable.
    Sometimes with school horse if they get novices tacking them up frequently - this can either make them waspy or threatening because the novice either backs off and gets worried they are doing it wrong.
    Horses like routine so always do everything in the same order - i.e
    1. Open door with head collar in hand
    2. walk in close door - put on head collar - tie up
    3. brush
    4. put on bridle - do up 'straps' - start with throat lash and work down - put on head collar and tie up
    5. put on saddle and do girth
    Do the girth up one hole at a time - start with the girth one hole tighter than touching - do something else for a few seconds - come back do the girth another hole and then put your fingers either side of the girth and ease away from the skin, run you fingers down the inside of the girth until you can go no further without pinching - then do up one more hole. Make sure you check the girth again before you get on:eek:

    Then your horse will know exactly what you are doing and what is coming next:) :)
     
  11. Ran out of room - there's the last bit.

    It may take a while but you should find he will improve as she becomes acustomed to the rotine.
    If you are still having problems ask someone of the yard that is experienced to tack her for you to what happens.

    Flicking him on the nose will only make the situation worse as he will become defensive and thus more agressive:eek:

    If you can find the underlying cause correct it.

    This rotine has work for me for years and years of tacking up school horse and cured some that have come in with this type of problem - time and patience work wonders.

    Always be positive and confident with what you do and your horse should respond:D
    Hope this helps and sorry it is so long:)
     
  12. White-Blazes

    White-Blazes New Member

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    Hi Qwerty

    I had this problem with Bryony the irish cob this summer. Whenever I tightened her girth, she would always look back round at me as if in some discomfort. Had her saddle checked but that was fine. I posted a similar thread on the IH forums after she actually bit my 10 year old daughter whilst I was doing the girth.
    Basically, as she is quite podgy, they thought I was pinching her underneath,
    the options were helpful; tighten up one side at a time, but a bit time consuming, or buy a humane girth.
    I bought a humane girth for 14.50, and this has solved my problems. Obviously if it is a school horse, it isn't up to you to buy her a new girth, but you could suggest it to the owners.
    Heather:D
     
  13. lleeaannee

    lleeaannee ponies R 4 life!!!

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    I would reiterate all the advice given.

    NEVER hit a horse around the head - especially with a whip (i don't know if this is whae you meant when you said "flick"). It the recipe for a headshy horse.

    I would suggest tying the horse up while tacking up. A horse i ride (ginny) has terrible stable manners so i tie a piece of baling twine to her net ring and then tie her to the twine (never tie the horse to the actual ring!!! Safety first)

    I would knock the treat giving on the head too. Only give a treat ofr good behaviour not bad. You are in effect conditioning her to act this way. I would suggest having a word with the riding school about the treats. They could put a sign on the stable door or something to prevent it (my stables did). After all, they are liable if anything goes wrong (I assume they know how this horse behaves - if so why are they letting inexperience people, who don't know how to deal with the behaviour, tack it up?)

    One thing I do with Ginny if she turns her back end on me it to approach her back end. One you have your hand on her rump you can then "feel" your way to her head. I WOULD NOT reccommend this with riding school horses though. I only do this as I have learned with experience that she will not kick me; it is just evasion. As you get to know a horse you will know if this would be possile.

    Another thing I do when doing the girth up is stick the elbow nearest the horse towards the face. Now to elbow her with but to give her something to bite that doesn't hurt me so much. It hurts less to be bit on the elbow (try piching the skin there). There is also less skin to get purchase on. If I catch her about to bite me I move my elbow towards her (I must stress I do not elbow her - just use the fast movement to change her ideas).

    I really would suggest you have a word with the school about stopping the treats as this DOES work and their priority should be the safety of their students!
     
  14. White-Blazes

    White-Blazes New Member

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    Qwerty

    Just been looking at my thread that was on another site and am trying to copy the replies here, so here goes;

    Hello everyone
    When we bought my daughters irish cob mare this July, she'd just come over from Ireland.
    She is very heavy, and a bit on the chubby side. She has bred a foal in the past too (she's 8).
    After a few weeks of hacking, I was surprised in that she hadn't lost any weight, and noticed how she always turned to look at me when tightening the girth. I was beginning to have my doubts as to whether she was pregnant.
    A month ago, the vet was called as she was lying down in the field. Now me, having never seen a horse with colic, thought 'oh my God, she's in labour'.
    Vet came, it was colic, and she's not in foal.
    This Saturday, when tightening the girth, my daughter was holding her head when she bit her arm.
    Why does she do this? She needs the girth where I put it, else it slips as she is so round!
    In every other way, she is a little angel and not at all nasty.
    What can I do? I can't bite her back else I'd get a mouthful of hair - lol !! Once she's out hacking, she's fine.
    please help.
    Heather E

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    Date: 31-Oct-01

    This could be down to having been pinched by the girth but is more likely to be due to the saddle. When you tighten the girth the saddle can press down if it is too narrow and cause bruising that gets worse with time so maybe a check from a good saddle fitter would be a good first step, coupled with a back check in case there is some damage that needs dealing with. Sometime horses that have bruised need time off to heal before riding again as they can still bite for a while as it still hurts until the bruising goes. Hope this helps.
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    You don't say how you tighten the girth. Is it an all in one tightening, or in stages? I do mine up in three stages. Have the attached (left) side 3 holes lower than the final fit. Tighten the other side to one hole less than the final fit. Tighten the left side to one hole less than final. I then tighten the right hand side to its final hole before moving onto the bridle, either doing the last left hand hole immediately before mounting or when I'm on, having mounted from a wall. Er, that's probably a few more than 3 stages actually, but hey, you get the idea! I do it as my pony used to detest the girth being done up. He takes it all in his stride now!
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    I used to over tighten my girth in an attempt to stop Tillys saddle slipping and she started to become saddle shy. Once I worked out what the problem was I swapped to using a hunting breastplate and crupper to keep the saddle from slipping and I always get on from a mounting block. This solved the saddle slipping problem and TIlly is now a much happier bunny.
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    It could also be due dirty girth, sore ribs, ticklishness, horse is telling you that it has a problem by nipping maybe, try girthing up slowly and make sure no pinching occurs, do you lift each foreleg after girthing to make sure skin is smooth. Imagine youself wearing a tight ill fitting bra, its the horse equivalent.
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    Defintely all the above. I spend five minutes doing my girth up - hole by hole I guage how well I'm doing it by my horses' expression. I aim to get not even a ear twitch out of him as it gets pulled up so gently.
    One thing I really would recommend is getting a thick wool girth sleeve as girths can quite easily pull the hairs as she moves and a sleeve eliminates that problem. (Thoroughly brush it each time you tack up).
    Also, what sort of numnah do you use? When you get the saddle checked make sure that they take into account the thickness of the numnah otherwise that would be making a too tight saddle even tighter. I swear by a semi padded cloth with the prolite gel inserts where the pressure points are !
    Hope this helps.
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    I would agree with all the above, but you may after all the checks and always doing the girth up a whole at a time etc, find she is just "being a mare"! Mine has had all the checks etc and still always makes faces or knashes her teeth at me when I girth up (not when I put the saddle on).
    Strange things is, I was tacking her up at my instructors yard the other week and hey presto, no faces! Too much else going on.
    Girths go where mares in particular are very sensitive, so some hate it no matter what. My mare is absolutely fine once I am on board and works fine, so it is not her back or saddle, just a bit of a girth phobia.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Date: 01-Nov-01

    Just to say that I agree with all of the excellent advice.
    I also have an irish cob (aren't they great!) and she is overweight 90% of the year despite my efforts to get her to lose weight. My advice would be to cut her hard feed down to the very bare minimum and give her lots of hay over winter. Polly only has a handful of nuts or chaff plus Firm Foot and garlic powder. At the end of last winter she was looking slim (hardly recognised her!) and beautiful.
    I have 3 girths of various length to cope with her weight fluctuations! My favourite is a very soft leather girth that my dad bought her for christmas last year from Olympia.
    Hope you can work through this problem. Let us know how you get on.
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    Hi my young mare always tried to nip her previous owner when the girth was tightened. I swapped onto a girth with elasticated ends when she arrived with me and have never had the problem since. It might be worth a try if the saddle and her back prove to be ok.
    Hope you solve the problem,
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Heather E
    Date: 01-Nov-01

    WOW!! So many helpful replies, thank you so much. I knew I'd get some help since joining this site a month ago.
    Firstly, when she first arrived, there was no problem during the first month, then they gradually got worse.
    I have to tack up two horses or three at most, and usually do Bryony first. Her girth finally goes to the 4th hole, but initially I put it on 1. I tack up the other one or two, then go back and put it up to 3. Then I give my daughter a leg up, and when she is finally onboard, it goes up to 4, so yes, I do it gradually.
    She hasn't put any weight on since arriving, though her coat is obviously hairier now, so maybe thicker!
    Her saddle I will get checked this weekend, and I think I will invest in an elasticated girth, as someone suggested. Her numnah is a furry one so quite thick.
    She lives out all the time, and whilst she doesn't need hard food, gets a tiny bit of alpha A, sugar beet, garlic powder, and tiny bit of coarse mix. I have to feed the other two, so this way she doesn't feel left out. Plus they get hay at night.
    Having spoken to a friend on the phone today, she knows of three other horses that do this, all mares. Is it a mare thing??

    Heather E
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    Date: 01-Nov-01

    heather word of warning about elasticated girths my IDX mare pulled faces having her girth tightened had saddle fitted etc and my instructor thought elastic could be pinching her so now use humane girth by cottage craft and shes happy in that i also rug and leave out with access to stable plenty of hay minimal feed (all high fibre and a vit supplement)
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From; Heather E

    thank you for that advise. I think I will have to get a longer girth and tighten each side one at a time till I get to the finished holes!!
    Not sure which one though.
    I suppose with her being chunky and fat, she has excess fat under her girth so maybe I am pinching her. Maybe a sheepskin sleeve over the new girth - any ideas?

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    Date: 04-Nov-01

    What a good thread. I have learned a lot from these comments. I have to admit to rushing the operation of tightening the girth and anoying a horse or too. I will re-examine myself from now on.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From: Heather E
    Date: 04-Nov-01

    Yes thank you everyone, I too have learnt a lot from your comments.
    I hadn't thought for one minute that maybe Bryony had been pinched, either by me or prior to us buying her, and maybe she is expecting it every time.
    Think I'll invest in a humane girth. (Would it be possible to put a sleeve over it still? I don't see why not)
    thanks again everyone.

    Heather E

    Hope it's not too long for you Qwerty!!!!
     
  15. qwerty

    qwerty Missing duke :'(

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    The girth can't be too tight because I only do it up loosly in the box.
    I flicked her on the rug part covering her hinds.
    If I do put a head collar on first, she will probably bite me when I do that and also, how do you put a double bridle on while she is wearing a headcollar?
     
  16. qwerty

    qwerty Missing duke :'(

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    Another thing, If I stop with the polos, how do I get her to turn around when she puts her head in the corner and faces her bum at me. I'm always thinking...is she gonna buck at me? I I try and go round to her head she moves round in a circle and again tries to bite me.
     
  17. Mazpup

    Mazpup Horseless

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    There is a horse at our stabls that bites when you tack her up or try to do up her girth. Basically I think she's sick of being a riding school pony. The last time I went in her stable to untack her I managed to get her tack of her fine, but then she kept biting me when i tried to get of the stable. To avoid this I don't deal with the horse anymore. She generally is very moody, and I don't want to risk my safety trying to tack her up!
     
  18. qwerty

    qwerty Missing duke :'(

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    I feel happier when someone else is with me cos I can just do what I have to do. The only thing is I am doing some exams soon and don't want to look woosy.
    Do you have any tips for another horse who lifts his head up really high and hard when I try to put the bridle on?
     
  19. ilovebacara

    ilovebacara silly moo :@)

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    i would stick by what every body says about not hittin a horse on the face as it makes them uncomfortable and can often lead to a horse being head shy. My horse used to try and bite me when i first had her and when i had the saddler out she seemed to think that it was because one of her previous owners had girthed her up too tightly and too quickly. Although she meant no harm she would try and turn around and bite me every time i put her saddle on. I found that just sayin NO very firmly and letting her know who was boss helped as well as doing her girth up a little at a time. I think that it is hard for anyone to say what you should be doing as nobody really knows what the horse is like. It may just be a behavior problem from being around so many different people. Horses love to have one to one attention as often as they can but usually with the same person. Think of what it may be like for the horse having maybe less confident riders tacking her up all the time. I think that it may worry the horse a little because they can sense very easily when a person is tense or worried. I think that all you can do is just TRY and stay really calm and try and teach her the gentle way that it is not nice to try and bite. When the horse does something good then praise it nicley and talk to it gently and pat it. Just maybe try and build up confidence with you and the horse. Sorry for babbling on but i am really into this 'getting to know what your horse thinks' kinda thing.
    Jess :)
     
  20. Elfin

    Elfin Guest

    There is a horse at the stables called Tanya. She is 26 and was very badly mistreated. But she bites when you put her saddle on, and really does try to go for you. She bit my instructor the other weekend, so she gave her a slap on her tummy, and she stopped immediatley. But if she tries to bite, I just try and ignore her, and if she does try to go for me, and move back sometimes, or I tell her sharply NO. She doesn't listen, but heyho..........
     
  21. schimmer

    schimmer New Member

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    What makes a "humane girth" more humane than a regular one? Anybody know?
     
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