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Horse walks stiff/funny in front after girthing? Suggestiongs? Help?

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  • Horse walks stiff/funny in front after girthing? Suggestiongs? Help?

    Looking for opinions on a horse that started walking “stiff” after doing up the girth. The firth 3-5 steps after doing up the girth are very restricted looking. She takes teeny, tiny steps in the front, but the back looks normal…this is the only way I can explain it. Some days it’s only a step or two, but it looks kind of horrible.

    This started about 1-1.5 months ago. No change in diet, work level, tack, environment…anything! Had the saddle checked, it fits. Tried riding without the Ogilvy, no difference one way or another. I was using a leather girth, so bought a pro-choice elastic girth, no difference. Tried a fuzzy girth, no difference.

    This horse is a 3’3-3’6 hunter. I am not showing much this year for financial reasons/I'm a student, so she is not “actively” showing. We are not at a show barn. She gets 7-8 hours turnout every day rain or shine. One mean/pushy buddy was moved out of the paddock about 2-3 months ago and she is now out with 2 others. She rides the same and jumps fantastic. My trainer did mention a few weeks ago that she wasn’t moving as nice (not lame, just not flowing) one particular day…but fine since. Gets hock maintenance for minor changes, but is 12.

    Someone off hand said that she might have ulcers, but has no other symptoms. Fat, super shinny. I might try a course of Omeprazole though. Chiro is coming tonight. I will be talking to the vet next, but otherwise this horse seems healthy. Any suggestions? Help?

  • #2
    Have you tried doing it up in stages? I once rode an old hunter that was girthy, and if you did the girth up too fast he walked out "strange". He'd work out of it and apparantly had been like that his whole life....never bothered him and never lame...just girthy!
    Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!


    • #3
      My navicular OTTB did this until he was nerved. Doesn't really make sense and maybe there was some other connection but that's what I saw.


      • Original Poster

        eclipse, she does it with pretty much any pressure from the girth. It only stopped when there was space in the girth or when I didn't do it up at all.

        Qharma, thanks. Might be worth looking into some.


        • #5
          I knew a horse that walked funny after girthing - turned out the sternum was out of alignment and was much improved after a chiro adjustment.


          • #6
            Girth up in small steps as suggested...then do forward extension stretches with each front leg. There is a nerve in that area that can be squished when girthing.
            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


            • #7
              I had a QH who did this shortly before he was diagnosed with navicular syndrome. I have no clue if that was the cause of it, though.


              • Original Poster

                I always stretch her legs and do the girth slowly. I've had this mare for 8 years, so its very odd to start now.

                The chiro looked at her and said she looks very good since the last time he saw her. He did mention that the muscles through her girth area were very tight and over sensitive. He gave me some exersises to do and I guess I will see if they help. She also had tightness through her back (I wrote down where, just can't remeber right now) that could contribute to it. I'll try his ideas for a bit and than maybe move on to Omeprazole. I'll keep in mind the navicular idea.

                Any other insight?


                • #9
                  My mare did this when she had ulcers (and continues to do it now when her ulcers flare back up again).

                  Also, the vagus nerve can run very close to the girth/just under the skin. It may be getting too much pressure from where your girth is against the skin.
                  "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                  • #10
                    Mine has done this since I bought him. Ulcer treatment, changes in feed (for other reasons, not because he's girthy), working hard, working lightly, quiet day, fidgety day, different saddles, day, night, shows, home . . . the same each time: a few mincing steps and then he moves out normally. I figure it's him.

                    Also, the vagus nerve can run very close to the girth/just under the skin
                    The vagus nerve is DEEP in the chest. Things that can trigger a "vagal" reaction do not necessarily require contact with the nerve itself. In fact, that is almost unheard-of. A noxious or unpleasant stimulus anywhere can cause the so-called "vagal" reaction (low BP, etc.) but it is not from direct stimulation of the vagus nerve.
                    Click here before you buy.


                    • #11
                      If the girth is pulling the saddle down onto the reflex point just behind the wither this kind of stilted walking can happen. If the cange in gate resolves if you loosen the girth it is time to consult a saddle fitter. Saddle fit changes as horses gain/loose weight, add muscle, and grow/mature.


                      • #12
                        There is a 'hoof point' at the girth area that may indicate hoof pain (not necessarily navicular)

                        Interesting considering the posters than mentioned it happening to horses diagnosed with navicular (obviously one condition that may cause hoof pain).


                        • #13
                          Girthiness=hind gut ulcers?
                          Don't know, just read that somewhere.
                          You'd treat hind gut differently from gastric ulcers.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks again everyone. The saddle has been checked fairly recently, but its entirely possible with the rain we have had and lush grass that she has gained some weight. She does look a little porkier. If the girth is off or hanging she doesn't do it..and it resolves in a few steps.

                            That is interesting about the "hoof point," I never hear of that.

                            leaf, she is a little girthy, along with the stitled walking (good discription of it). She has been girthy for years though. I would feel terrible if she has had ulcers for years and no one realized.

                            The chiro exercises/massage, seems to be making it slightly better, but she is still doing it. I will give it a few more days and move onto other diagnostics.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                              I knew a horse that walked funny after girthing - turned out the sternum was out of alignment and was much improved after a chiro adjustment.
                              This was my first thought too.
                              "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince


                              • #16
                                Since she's been adjusted and you already do the stretches, try a different saddle and girth and see if she has the same reaction.

                                It's the intercostal nerve that goes along the girth line. I had a horse that would collapse if you girthed too tight, too quickly.


                                • #17
                                  My guy does this, right side only (he's asymmetrical), particularly if the saddle doesn't fit exactly right, but even with his custom saddle he does it a little. I agree its probably pinching a nerve. I just have to be careful those first couple of steps. I also stretch out his legs after girthing.