Horse Eating on Trails - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Horse Eating on Trails

Whenever I go trail riding, my horse has a bad habit of reaching out for branches or reaching from side to side to get a bite. Upon several occasions if there is branch that I cannot go around in the middle of the path he will grab it and hold on to it while still moving forward until it breaks, which results in it whipping back at me or the person behind me. On a few occasions he will stop dead and try to eat. I have been told to keep a tight rein but even when I do that he seems to lunge his his head forward at the food so that it pulls me forward. I've also been told to keep riding him forward which works unless there is a branch down that I cannot get around. One method I have tried is that if he tries to go after a branch or something to make him move faster so that he'll think. "if i reach for food, I'm gonna get worked harder," but sometimes if he sees a branch or grass that he wants he will speed up himself and grab the food on the run. I don't want to have to pull on his mouth because I am learning to ride using my legs to control him rather than the bit. I ride in a full cheek snaffle. Any advice would be great!
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post #2 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 10:54 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
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When he goes to do it Pop his butt (short whip) and squeeze. Redirect his mind.
Lol even a hop forward is better than letting him get away with it.
Corporal and Ponies like this.
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post #3 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 10:56 AM
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No idea on how to prevent eating from tall shrubs, I don't think a grass rein would work to the side without being a side rein, which just seems dangerous. I'm curious to see the answers though.

My mare rarely reaches out and grabs a tasty branch, so it's never been a big enough deal for me to consider correcting. My mare keeps moving though, and doesn't dive for treats.
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post #4 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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I've done that before and that does help! When I bop him on the butt he does speed up and sometimes will actually continue to reach out and grab stuff. Sometimes he likes to grab at branches when we're going down a steep hill and he knows he is gonna get bopped for it and will speed up going down the hill. That method has worked well for me when we are walking on a straightaway but not so much when going down hill lol :P
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post #5 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:10 AM
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This is one of the main reasons I don't like riding in a snaffle, ha ha. I can control my horses any other time out on the trail, even running, but with a snaffle and tall grass or bushes, well, they just dive for it!

If I were going to try to correct it I would tap them with spurs the second they dive for it, but that tends to make them anticipate the correction (like you mentioned) and then you just have a horse that dives quickly and rushes forward. It's like they feel the reward is greater than the punishment so they do it anyway.

I ride in a curb most of the time mainly because of the food diving issue. Then I can catch them before they dive and they can't pull the reins through my hands. That makes me sounds like a little kid on a pony not the 200 lb. woman that I am, lol! The only real solution I've found is to stop them before they dive. And on bushes sometimes I can't walk past them without them grabbing a bite.

As winter comes on and the grass dies, it becomes a non-issue.

I know I make matters worse because I DO let them stop and eat grass here and there. But they don't have pasture so I feel like grass is a real treat for them. So it isn't a big deal really. But it CAN get annoying certain times of year when the foliage is extra nice!

Last edited by trailhorserider; 10-15-2012 at 11:14 AM.
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post #6 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:25 AM
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I ride in split reins. The second they reach for something to eat. I pop them in the neck on whichever side they reach. Im the only one who has no problems on the trail with my horse trying to eat on the trail. They already have learned.
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post #7 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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I think that is exactly what my horse thinks! haha I use to ride in a shank and I even had the same problems then but mainly because I didn't want to pull in his mouth. That's the one thing I love about winter is that there is no food for him to go after haha! I also let my horse stop and eat grass but usually I only do it if i've been riding for a few hours continoulsy to give him a break. I know it's not a big deal but it does get annoying like you said lol :P
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post #8 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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That is one method I have yet to try! I will apply that to my riding the next time I go out. That sounds like it will really help because since I am bopping him on the neck he won't feel the need to move forward faster like he did when I would bop him on the butt. Thanks!!
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post #9 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:49 AM
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i know this is about your horse eating on the trail but another thing that will help when he goes to throw his head down is to ride with your shoulders back. if your shoulders are back and you have a good handle on the reins he will be less likely to throw you off balance (throwing you forward).

on top of that try what some others above have posted and you will be able to figure it out.
another thing i did for a while was ride with a rope halter under the headstall with the lead connected to the saddle. i tie it to the left side of the saddle on ride on the right side of the trail. so when he used to pull to the right for branches or leaves and would not listen to the bit and reins i would grab the lead and the left rein and throw my left leg into and force him to bend immediately to the left away from the food.

good luck :) remember consistency is yoru friend in these situations
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post #10 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 11:52 AM
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Two words: riding muzzle
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eating , prevention , trails

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