Hi, I recently purchased this mare she is about 13 and really a wonderful horse and SMART! However I bought her knowing she has issues with being saddled. I was told she tries to bite when being saddled however that is not what is really happening when I tack her up.This mare seems to NOT enjoy being cinched up. She loves being groomed and allows the blanket and saddle fine back cinch no issue but the moment you start to apply pressure for the front cinch she bears down and will grip the hitching post even the metal ring that you loop your lead to and bears down with her mouth, I have to tell her no and that is enough in a firm tone and she stops then we try again and she stills repeats her acts, I am not one who cinches tight nor do I tend to ride with a tight saddle I do lounge her then tighten again, I feel this is a habiot she has formed whats your thoughts and what can I do to help her over come this, she also pins her ears back when in a round pen being worked and bites at the bit she eventually stops but it takes a few moments however she DOES NOT do it when being ridden away from the round pen in a pasture or woods, do you think he is ring sour? she was shown in the past and was on a regular pattern daily or work outs for SHOW only do you think she could dislike being a show horse and being that restricked to show ring riding?
Thank you for your question. Your horse sounds like a nice horse, just did not have the best training and start in her life. It sounds as though she was never really cinched right and was also pushed too hard in the ring causing her to shut down mentally about working in the ring.
First thing that I always feel should be mentioned in cases like this is, have you had her checked out by a vet or equine body work person. The reason that I ask is because sometimes behavioral issues can be solved by fixing physical problems. So I would have her checked out and also have a saddle fitting specialist check your saddle fit. Sometimes pain from the saddle can make a horse act this way when cinching.
Now, saying that anything physical is not the problem, here are a few things that you can try to help her get over these problems.
Horses start getting cinchy when they are started under saddle in an improper way. Horses should be introduced to the cinch and the feel of it around their stomach before being cinched up and then they should be cinched all the way up in a matter of about 5 or more little cinchings until the cinch is tight. I cinch my horses in about 3 cinchings, meaning that I cinch just enough to keep the saddle on then I walk my horse around then cinch again and then circle my horse at a trot or canter and then cinch one more time before I ride. With colts and horses being started under saddle I cinch in 5 or more times. Most likely your horse did not have that courtesy when being started under saddle.
You said that you are doing this now and that is a good thing. Keep that up.
Now this may sound weird and people may think that it gives the horse a reward for bad behavior, but I am not most people and this is not a bad behavior problem. Your horse has a bad feeling about the cinch. It does not like it. It has never had a good experience with it. So your horse thinks it is all bad. Your horse is trying to tell you that it does not like the cinch. So you need to change your horses mind that a cinch is a good thing and not a bad thing. Here is what I would do with this horse. Whenever you go to start cinching up your horse, give it a cookie, carrot or something she likes first and while she is eating it, start cinching. If she gets mad or upset ignore the behavior and give her a treat and keep going. Do this every time that you start cinching and when you go to tighten the cinch. This will eventually give her a good feeling about cinching and then you eventually will not need treats unless you want to give her one, or if this behavior starts up again. Consistency is key with any training method and this is the same. Your have to change her mind about cinching in a process of time.
This is not a reward for bad behavior because as I said before she is not being bad. Most people would tell you that she is being bad. But look at it from her horse shoes and think about her feelings and probably the way she was trained. She is just expressing her feelings to you and you need to help her feel better about the whole process.
One thing that I would start with with this horse, is can you have the saddle on the horse uncinched and take your hand and rub the horse where the cinch will be. If this starts upsetting her this is where you need to start. So rub her and if she starts getting upset give her a treat with one hand and keep rubbing with the other. If you stop rubbing to give her a treat that is a problem. You need to keep your hand there and give her the treat with your other hand. Horses learn off the release of pressure, meaning that when you stop doing something, she thinks that what she did was the right answer. So if she starts biting the rail and you stop rubbing she will think that biting the rail made you stop rubbing. So when she gets upset keep your hand there and keep rubbing while your other hand gives her her treat. Then when she settles down you can take your hand away. Then start all over again until this does not upset her any more.
Next reach down and grab the cinch, then let go. Do this over and over again until this does not upset her any more either. Giving her treats at the appropriate times if needed.
Then start your cinching the same way using the same concepts as above, giving treats as needed.
Do this every time you saddle and you will see improvements in her attitude.
Please let me know how you are doing and if you have any more questions.