If you are a new first-time horse owner, you may not be familiar with how to assess your horse when it has behavior issues. It doesn't matter how much training a horse gets, it has a mind of it's own and, sometimes, they behave badly. Often, bad behavior is due to discomfort. Here are several signs that may point to discomfort and how to determine the cause of bad behavior. 

Signs of discomfort due to poorly-fitted saddle

If your horse strikes, bites, or kicks you when you try to cinch up a saddle, they are exhibiting signs of discomfort from a poorly-fitted saddle and/or girth strap. First, make sure the saddle and girth strap do not have any sharp edges that may be cutting into the horse's body. Take a look at your horse's withers to see if there are any white hairs. This can be caused by damaged hair follicles due to a saddle that is too tight or small for their body. 

While studying the withers, take a close look at the muscle definition. If they are uneven or there are indents, it could be signs of muscle atrophy. A saddle that is the wrong size or unbalanced can put too much pressure on certain muscles, which can cause the horse to contract that muscle to relieve the pressure. This can lead to altered gaits, twitching, head tossing, resistance, and bucking. 

Signs of discomfort due to teeth problems

Horse teeth continue to grow through most of a horse's life. When horses chew, they grind their food until they are able to swallow it. If the grinding is uneven, it can cause their teeth to develop rough areas and sharp spots, which can be painful to their tongues and to the insides of their cheeks. This pain can cause your horse to be cranky and spook easily. If your horse's teeth are bothering him, he may hold his head to one side or constantly shake his head or both. A horse that is having pain from his teeth will not easily want to take a bit in their mouth. 

Signs of sharp and rough teeth also include quidding and weight loss. Quidding is when a horse packs grass in between his cheeks and teeth to provide a cushion from the painful teeth. Weight loss can occur when chewing becomes painful. A veterinarian can assess the condition of your horse's teeth and recommend for you to have their teeth floated, which means the teeth will be filed down to remove the sharp and rough areas. However, any time a horse loses weight, a visit from the veterinarian is highly recommended. 

For additional information, you will want to contact company such as Edisto Equine Clinic.