To prevent (and hopefully cure) girthiness/cinchiness, be polite as you get it tight. You may just eliminate one reason not to stand in the cross-ties!

If you’ve ever been surprised by the point of a dental instrument, you know it can take many “stab free” experiences in the dentist chair before you start to unclench your toes and relax.

Similarly, it can take months of good girthing experiences until your horse stops anticipating the “cinch crank.”

Here are some tips to rebuild confidence:

1. Systematically rule out all physical causes such as an ill-fitting saddle, girth sores, skin conditions or under-girth bruising.

2. Slide, never crank. Tighten one hole at a time, as you would your own belt.

3. Advance to the next hole timed with the exhale of your horse’s breathing.

4. Walk your horse a little between tightenings. Each time he moves he’ll blow out some air. Usually, three or four adjustments are enough, from grooming area to mounting block.

5. Monitor his expression. I always watch the ears and eyes of my horse as I lift the saddle flap and slip up to the next billet hole.

6. Don’t overdo it – tightening just enough to keep the saddle in place during your ride, comes from experience.