Have you ever owned a horse that “blows up” (also known as filling their belly with air) to avoid girth tightening? If you haven’t owned a horse that does this, I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. As riders, we are told to tighten the girth when we saddle, walk the horse, and then check it again before we get on because our savvy horse may hold their breath to make it difficult for us to tighten the girth originally. This is a girthing myth!
While this advice is good, the reasoning behind it isn’t exactly right. First thing, your horse is not likely to voluntarily hold his/her breath. However, if he/she did, the first 10 ribs, which lie directly under the saddle, are basically immobile. This makes it practically impossible for a horse to expand their diameter of the girth area.
Horses may puff up while being saddled. However, your horse is more than likely tightening his/her abdominal muscles. This expands the width of your horse’s chest, which allows the cinch to loosen when he/she relaxes. Your horse could be doing this for a number of reasons. One of which is an anticipation of an unpleasant experience. Your horse could be tensing up because the tightening of the girth is causing discomfort. Another reason could simply be a natural response to the feeling of having something wrapped around his/her barrel.
In order to “deflate” your horse’s belly, you must allow them to relax. Make sure that your tack is not causing your horse discomfort when you saddle. You may have to switch some things around. Next, as you tack your horse, take your time.
Cinch your horse up slowly so it is secure, not tight. Before you mount, tighten your girth a bit more and walk around until he/she relaxes. You may need to tighten one last time after you mount. Keep this in mind the next time your horse “blows up!”
For more information, visit: http://equusmagazine.com/article/blowing-up-a-