You know the one, he’s swinging his head around to bite you, he’s dancing in the crossties, or he’s bloated like a balloon. No rider wants to deal with a cinchy horse. The term describes a horse that acts out when you go to saddle him or tighten the girth (or cinch). It’s time to figure out why your horse has become a nightmare and how you can fix this behavioral issue.
Is your horse acting cinchy?
Telltale signs of this behavior can include the following:
Raising or bobbing his head
Pinning his ears
Moving around or jiggling in the crossties
Threatening to bite or kick
Why is he acting this way?
Your horse may be cinchy for a number of reasons. This trait may be something recently picked up, or could be a long time lingering issue. Many times a horse acts out because of a bad memory. This could mean someone tacked him up aggressively or disciplined him roughly. He could have also sustained pain or discomfort from poorly fitted tack. Some horses dislike the saddling process when they expect an unpleasant ride to follow.
How to resolve the issue
Start slowly when trying to correct this behavioral issue. Consider the safety of yourself and your horse.
1. Do not tie a dangerous horse. Ask a friend to assist in holding him. Begin by rubbing your horse’s shoulder and stomach area. Once he responds well to your touch, rub up and down the girth area with your hand. At this point, you are desensitizing him.
2. If your horse responds well to your hand, then you can begin rubbing the girth along this area. Keep a lookout for signs of distress. At the first sign of anguish, slow down and go back to rubbing just with your hand. Praise him when he does well.
3. Saddle him slowly and keep the girth loose. Only tighten it a little bit at a time. Continue to press on as he stands patiently. If he reacts negativity, hold the pressure there until he relaxes, and then retreat.
4. Practice saddling and unsaddling without riding a few times.
Dealing with difficult horses can be tricky. Patience is a key virtue when retraining. Don’t be afraid to seek out help from an experienced trainer.