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Horses are crankly when being blanketed

I have several questions about some horses where I am. Some of the horses are cranky about having their blankets being put on. They pin their ears, bite the bars of their stalls and swish their tails when I put the blankets on them. The horses are really nice with almost everything else. One of the horses throws his head when the girth is put on. He has been better lately, and I feel I am making progress with the blanket problem also. But not a lot. I would love any input you have on these things.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.


Hi Laena,

As far as the 'cranky when being blanketed' thing; take the horses, one at a time, either into a round pen or on a fairly long lead line. Rub the horse all over, on both sides with your hands until he lowers his head and begins to show obvious signs of relaxation. Then rub him with a coiled up few feet of the rope you are using. Find a wand of some type. Rub the horse all over until he is obviously relaxed and totally unconcerned with your gentle rubbing. It won't take more than a few minutes per item, usually. If the horse is continuing to be nervous and fearful, there is something more going on and you should back off and contact me.

Anyway, next get a saddle blanket or the blanket the horse wears and do the same thing. This is a form of 'sacking out' a horse. You can have someone else hold the horse or hold it yourself while you do this. If the horse moves away from you at all, back off by stoping and moving a step or two back, only beginning again with a less energetic application or go back to something that the horse was definately relaxed with and begin the process again. If the horse keeps moving away from you during the 'sacking out' process, you are probably being a bit too aggressive or energetic. This process should be gentle, smooth, fluid, done on both sides and all over the horse.

Once the horse feels comfortable with being sacked with the blanket, go ahead and blanket him. If he is OK with it. Take it off and let him be a few minutes. Then blanket him again for a few and then take it off.

If everything works except the actual blankets themselves, there are a few other possibilities. Perhaps the horse is somehow uncomfortable wearing the blanket. Maybe its the straps rubbing uncomfortably or its too small and pinching the horse somewhere or the soap used to clean the blanket is an irritant. Some horses, especially thin skined horses, will have hyper-sensitivity of their skin. They are usually Thorobred types that have this problem are generally the nervous type anyway. These types of horses benefit greatly from theraputic touch such as TTouch. Most horses will benefit from theraputic touch anyway. Barring anything unusual or yet unseen, the sacking out process, done correctly and patiently, would help these blanket sensative horses a lot. Also, a few circles around you at the end of a lead rope before you go to blanket the horse, may help the horse get his mind off of the anticipation of being blanketed and help it go better.

'Girthy or cinchy' horses are very common. Acclimate the horse to having his girth area touched before he gets a saddle on him. Rub him with your hands on both sides. If he can't tolerate your hand gently rubbing his girth area, how can he tolerate the real thing? Eventually go to a soft brush. After that put a soft rope around his middle and get him comfortable with that. Once he is fine with that, saddle him. Gently rub his girth area with your hand until he relaxes with it and then gently, losely, fasten the girth to the billet strap. Take your hand and gently rub his girth area under the girth strap. When you sense he is OK with all this and relaxed, snug the girth over your hand a bit, then gently remove your hand. Then, assuming he is still relaxed, replace your hand and move your hand in and out several times between the girth and his body and gently rub his girth area. Gradually and gently snug the girth to a proper thightness. This process works.

Just as an add on, an 'old timers' move to distract a horse during cinching is to have the horse be moving around you in a small circle about three feet up on a lead rope, gently snug the girth with one hand as the horse is moving around you and you are holding his rope with the other hand. The movement keeps his attention. Make certain the girth is not pinching the horse in any way. I have had a lot of girthy horses come through my ranch. It is caused by humans unconsciously tightening and/or over tightening cinches on horses. To undo this takes some patience and sensitivity on our part. However, it is one of the easier porblems to solve (again barring anything unnoticed affecting the horse). It just takes a bit if time and patience.

Let me know how it all goes.

Aloha, Franklin

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