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Training Tip of the Week: Understand the “why” behind cinchiness


A “cinchy” or “cold-backed” horse has a tendency to overreact and possibly buck when pressure is applied around his belly or flank area. It’s normal for a horse to feel reactive whenever this area is squeezed tightly. Horses hate tight, narrow spaces or feeling claustrophobic, so when you wrap a girth around a horse’s belly and pull it tight, it can make the horse feel trapped and uncomfortable. Horses are also protective of their belly because they don’t have a lot of muscle or tissue there to protect their abdomen and organs. If a lion attacked a horse, for example, and the lion got even one claw dug into the horse’s abdominal muscles, the horse could potentially end up with a life-threatening infection, even if he escaped. It’s a part of a horse’s self-preservation instinct to be very protective of his girth area. 

Signs that your horse is uncomfortable with the girth around his belly include bucking with the saddle after being cinched up, pulling back when you tighten the girth or moving around and pinning his ears when you do the girth up.