Help for child's pony, head dropping to eat - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Help for child's pony, head dropping to eat

My daughter has a little pony, 14 hands or so. She is gentle and sweet. The problem is she drops her head to the ground to eat and graze. She literraly pulls the reins right out of my 39 pound 5 year olds hands. Once the reins dropped down her neck, she stepped on them, popped her head up and began trotting away, growing my daughters head, helmeted THANK GOD, into a tree before coming to a stop when she regained the reins and spun her in a circle to get her to stop. This is so dangerous. I wonder if we need a better bit, she usually rides in a hackamore or curb bit. The worry is, my daughter is learning and can be inconsistent with her hands. I don't want her hurting or frustrating her horse, but I want her safe as well. She rides English, is there a way to tie her head up while still giving her the ability to direct her?
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 07:20 PM
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I believe there are "pony reins" out there that attach to the rings on a saddle, making it hard for them to get their head down far enough to eat, but still lets them be in a normal head position.


Dover could possibly have them?

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 07:40 PM
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It's called a grazing rein, and I used to rig them out of baling twine for my riding school ponies.

A friend of mine with a large riding school has had dozens had out of nylon with brass snaps.

The idea is simple - tie or snap one end to a saddle dee, run it over the horse's head, between the ears, and under the crown piece of the bridle, bring down alongside the cheek pieces of the bridle and attach to the bit. There should be enough slack that the animal can stretch it's head forward and down, but not so much it can actually reach the ground and eat. Riding school friend uses two, crossed at the crown and snapped to opposite sides of the bit.

And please don't feel bad - most smart old schoolies and good novice horses figure out how to take advantage of new, young or weak riders in this way. Common problem with an easy solution that doesn't involve a harsher bit or coercive tack. (I commend you for your concern in that regard!)

At 5 and 39 pounds, she may need the ant-grazing reins for a few more years.

Hope you daughter can continue to enjoy her pony! Good luck!
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 10:13 PM
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Yay for grass reins! With a kid(or adult for that matter0 who is not strong enough to prevent the horse putting his head down, they are invaluable. I don't use bits, only halters for my horses & it works to tie/buckle the 'grass rein'(well, a thin piece of webbing in our case) to the poll of the halter, with the other end attached to the saddle D.

As for the pony stepping on the reins & then running away, I assume you are using split reins? Tie them together or use regular ones.
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 10:20 PM
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My barn calls them bucking reins for advanced riders, but anti-grazing reins for kids. I back them up 100%! :)
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pawsnfur View Post
I wonder if we need a better bit, she usually rides in a hackamore or curb bit. ... She rides English, is there a way to tie her head up while still giving her the ability to direct her?
I'm a bit confused…you say she rides English, but uses a curb bit or a hackamore neither of which should be used with direct reining as they use leverage. Is she riding English and direct reining/two hands or Western and neck reining/one hand? Or am I missing something...

Last edited by Horse Poor; 09-28-2011 at 11:49 PM.
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-28-2011, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horse Poor View Post
I'm a bit confused…you say she rides English, but uses a curb bit or a hackamore neither of which should be used with a direct rein as they use leverage. Is she riding English and direct reining/two hands or Western and neck reining/one hand? Or am I missing something...
Good point. I think that's aside from the horse putting it's head down though.
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-29-2011, 12:26 AM
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FWIW, grass reins, daisy reins, grazing reins, bucking reins, side checks, etc. will work wonders for the horse putting its head down, but will do nothing to address riding problems. However, proper use of a bit will.
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-29-2011, 07:44 AM
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The rider is five years old and 39 pounds. "Proper use of the bit" is a few years away.

Also, she is not riding with split reins: "Once the reins dropped down her neck, she stepped on them, popped her head up and began trotting away...when she regained the reins and spun her in a circle to get her to stop" This sounds like ordinary buckled English reins to me.

And while I agree about curbs and hackamores being leverage devices, a 39 pound 5 year old child is probably not attempting to ride on contact, and since the issue is the pony ripping the reins out of her hands, I suspect she couldn't exert enough force to use them as a leverage device anyway.

However, perhaps when the OP solves the problem with a grazing rein, she can use a milder bit.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-30-2011, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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She was riding at first with just a halter until the horse started dropping her head. We are looking to figure out what the best tack and head gear she should be using. The hackamore she had was a bit too big so we discontinued using it. I have a curb bit as well as a standard simple snaffle...I think. Do you think the snaffle would be best? She does use reins that are tied and she uses them up tighter than a loose western style reins. She seems to have better control this way and is used to it because her other horse moves better with reins that are held straight and tighter than typical western loose neck reins. If that makes sense. I'm sorry, I lack proper horse grammar. We are new to this and I am just trying to help train her the best I can while making sure I don't hurt or mis train the horse.
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