Don’t Hold Your Breath: Horses Can’t Physically ‘Blow Up’ To Prevent Girth Tightening - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Don’t Hold Your Breath: Horses Can’t Physically ‘Blow Up’ To Prevent Girth Tightening

This skeleton, which is used for teaching purposes, shows which ribs on the equine skeleton are fixed..

When budding equestrians are fist taught how to tack up, one of the first things they are told is to always check their horse's girth before mounting because some horses hold their breath to keep the girth or cinch a bit loose. This lack of security could invite a saddle to slip.

That belief has recently been debunked: while horses may resist a girth being tightened, they don't hold their breath to do it, reports EQUUS magazine. The ribs that lie directly beneath the saddle area are relatively immobile, making it nearly impossible for a horse to expand his girth area through his lung power.

However, a determined horse might tighten his abdominal muscles enough to expand his chest and prevent the girth from being completely tightened. A horse may tighten his muscles for a variety of reasons, including the anticipation of discomfort, but many horses tighten their muscles naturally because something is being wrapped around his abdomen.

The key to preventing a horse from tightening his muscles and keeping the girth from being tightened is relaxation. First, ensure that his tack fits well and isn't causing him pain. When beginning to tack, keep the horse's girth or cinch loose, tightening it gradually throughout the tacking-up process. Once the horse has been led to the mounting block, the girth should be checked again. One final check once the rider is mounted may also be necessary.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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