Early Days

Uh oh girthiness

Type of jump girth I’ve been borrowing

Okay, I think we may have an issue here. Before the colic scare this past Monday I recall maybe one or two instances in the few weeks prior where he showed a little bit of girthiness when tacking up. I didn’t think much of it, because the leather girth I’ve been borrowing doesn’t look super comfortable (my old girth doesn’t fit the new jump saddle). It’s a “balding” girth where the straps cross each other in an effort to be chafeless but I think it might be pinching hair.

Anyways. So Monday was the minimal colic scare. He acted girthy when I tacked him up, even with the dressage saddle and synthetic chafeless girth he has never had an issue with before. I chalked it up to some digestive upset. His girthiness behavior included: pinned ears, evil eye, and lifting hind leg in a quasi-threatening manner.

Our dressage girth

Tuesday. Girthiness again with dressage saddle. He seemed to only mind if I put my hand behind the girth or shift it forward – he was not bothered by tightening it up. We had a nice ride.

Wednesday. Angry girthiness while grooming! Simply brushing that area, even rubbing my hand behind the armpit and below belly (hard enough so not tickling), and Hemie was trying to nip my arm! Clearly he was bothered back there so I decided to ride bareback (he’s doing great with that!). He was very gassy, so I’m wondering if its still some lingering digestion situation?

Thursday he got the night off and tonight I have a lesson (rain, rain, go away!!), but in the meantime I’ve been googling the heck out of girthiness trying to figure it out. The top hits are:

  1. Poorly fitting tack
  2. Ulcers 
  3. Needing a chiropractic adjustment (this one surprised me)
  1. Our saddles have been evaluated by a professional, so I feel good about their fit. Girths, though, are another story. I need to buy a new jump girth and maybe consider fleece covers to eliminate hair pulling.
  2. Ulcers. I don’t really want to even think about ulcers. I’ve been researching and it really bothers me that there’s no affordable, clearly indicative test, and that the medicine is so overpriced. Has anyone done the sucrose absorption urine test on their horse?
  3. I’ll have to do more research on chiropractic adjustment. Some people swear by it. When I personally saw a chiropractor I only felt results when I did it 3 times a week for 2+ months. 
For now my plan is to keep an eye on it and record his symptoms to see if it gets better or worse. I’m hoping its just a passing tummy ache and it will clear itself up. 
By the way, a friend found a piece of a hot dog in Hemie’s waterer on Monday (the day of colic scare). Yes, a hot dog. WTF? According to google its not toxic to horses (in fact it can be fed as an occasional treat?!?!) but maybe someone fed him one and it upset his stomach. Maybe someone was eating it and dropped a piece near his stall? I have no idea. So weird. I can’t wait ’till we move barns. Seriously. 

12 comments on “Uh oh girthiness

  1. I think some horses are just girthy. After all the evals my horse is totally fine but still crabs if i girth him while hes tied up. He is very ticklish.


  2. Has Carlos always been that way? This is a new issue for Hemie which is what has me concerned.


  3. Six weeks of omeprazole from Abprazole is only $175. My horse is about to finish up his fourth week and I've seen huge improvements in his girthiness. He was the same as Hemie–fake nipping, pinned ears, teeth grinding. Now I might get an occasional ear pin if I spend too much time currying the mud off his belly. Might be an option. :)


  4. I had a thoroughbred that likely had ulcers. My vet had just start treating instead of doing the costly tests. If he improved, it was likely the cause of the problem, if he didn't we would look elsewhere. He did improve, so I saved some money there.

    Now my current mare is just plain girthy. Give her a cookie to distract her while I am doing up the girth and she doesn't bat an eye. If I don't give her a cookie she's nipping at me, pinning her ears, and has even kicked me twice.


  5. I would be cranky too if someone was tightening my belt.. so I understand horses who object on a regular basis. :)
    But I think you're right to be alarmed when it's a new behavior for your boy..
    Pia became extremely girthy just as all her physical stuff was coming to a head. Regular bodywork (both massage and chiro) had a HUGE impact pretty quickly. I think her intercostal tissue on the ribs got very bound up and made any currying/girthing/poking in that area extremely uncomfortable for her. (the saddle fit like a glove at the time, so it wasn't a fit issue for her)…

    Of course I also had a gelding with the same symptoms and he responded very well to ulcer meds, I never went down the bodywork path with him.. Good luck!


  6. Carlos has always been ticklish


  7. Houston became very gutty when he started living in a new blanket. I guess it was causing him discomfort. He has also been girthu when his saddle needs to be adjusted.

    He gets seen by a chiro occasionally and I think it really helps him when he is out of whack. Hope you find a solution. :)


  8. Several vets I know will simply start treating for ulcers rather than test for them, since the tests are expensive and not always very good. If there's an improvement while on ulcer meds… well, there's your diagnosis. As Carly said, there are some reasonably-priced treatments out there. Might be worth a try!


  9. Cheapest solution: http://www.smartpakequine.com/smartpak-fleece-girth-6117p.aspx?cm_vc=Search

    Cuna lives in a fleecy girth. Those balding ones look like torture devices to me.

    Then cheap ulcer diagnostics (maalox?)

    Then bodywork.


  10. I've had several girthy horses. Speedy was TERRIFIED of being girthed up when I first got him as a three year old. With a lot of tighten and release exercises, he is pretty good about it now except … in the early fall when his new hair is growing in and in the spring as he begins to shed out. He's the best in the middle of the summer and middle of winter. He's also more girthy away from home. One thing I do is tighten and release the girth to desensitize him to the pressure (every single time), and then I give him a small treat for standing still (every single time). He knows the treat is coming and is looking for it as I tighten the girth. I also use FLEECE girths ONLY and both ends have elastic.

    Since this is a new thing for Hemie, I would think several things might be going on: 1. he got pinched with the loaner girth and is now on guard. 2. he has a skin issue beneath his coat: with our endurance horses, this was a common occurrence. We would do a girth area scrub with Betadine soap to kill any fungus or bacteria hiding under the coat. It's a cheap and easy thing to try. 3. the narrow girth might have made him sore. I tend to look for wider girths to disperse the pressure over a wider surface area.

    I don't think an ulcer would cause him to be girthy. It seems more likely that it is a girth or skin issue. I have used a chiropractor many, many times and find that even an annual adjustment helps my boys immensely. I am not sure how it would affect the girthing issue, but it's always something you might try. With some trial and error you should be able to find a way to make Hemie more comfortable.


  11. ulcers or chiro….try them both.

    Good luck!


  12. Agreed…I was always told to use a girth that is one length the whole way too for horses that are girthy, because the shaped ones pull the skin.


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