Horse Eating on Trails - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 04:01 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Middle of Nowhere, Saskatchewan
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Horses that stop to grab a bite while being rode made me SO mad. I've done a few things:

Pop their necks with the split reins just once, gave them a little pop on the mouth (only when using a snaffle, never a curb), and the best one yet is kicking my foot out of the stirrup and booting them in the neck hard, just once.

I can normally stop it with a voice cue just, "HEY!" or something in a stern tone, and they get the idea.

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post #22 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Ohio
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I think I am gonna try the bopping him on the neck when he tries to go for a bite. I'm also going to give a voice cue every time I bop him so that he learns that if he begins to reach for something and he hears that voice cue he'll know that the bop is coming next and stop before I have to bop him.
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post #23 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 04:58 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Eastern Montana
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The only way to really fix this is to end the urge or desire to eat on the trail. The only way I have found to do this is to make it undesirable to reach down for a bite.

My daughters horse was bad but the worst horses I have ridden for this are outfitters horses who are ridden by guests who don't know any better. I guide wilderness photo packtrips in the summer and nearly everyone of the horses I ride tries to eat to some extent on the trail. It can get dangersous as the horse spends more time looking for a bite and not paying attention where his feet are going. I almost fell off a cliff on a mare who jerked her head around to get a bite and nearly fell of the edge of the trail into the river!

None of the horses I ride on packtrips do this by the end of the trip (although I have had to fix the same horse every year as the next guest lets them eat) and the way I fix it is to use the long end of your split reins, end of your mecate or use a lead rope tied to the horn, preferably with a leather popper at the end. When they reach down for a bite, grab the saddle horn (in case they do something stupid) and take the rein and pop them between the ears. I don't use the neck as sometimes they see if coming and will shy or spook. It is important that they don't see it coming...kind of like "I went to take a bite and something bit me on the top of the head." Everytime they go down, they get popped. It is important that you be consistent. Sometimes on the first few times they may jump a little (that's whiy you grab the horn) but if you do it with enough sting, they typically only do it a few times.

The first day it may take several cracks and they get better and then the next day you may have to start all over again. Usually by the end of day two on a packtrip they have lost all desire to graze on the trail. My rule on packtrips / trail rides is "If I am sitting on you, you pay attention and don't eat. When I am on the ground you may graze". As someone mentioned it is important to allow them some food on a long ride and we usually stop every 2-3 hours, stretch our legs, let them graze and then resume. Also, too when you pop them with the rope / reins, you are not trying to drop them to their knees, just enough of a crack to be uncomfortable and to not want to do it again. This is actually a tip from Clinton Anderson and it is the only thing I have tried that is pretty much workable everytime. Also note that if you are nose to butt on a trail and you decide to spur them or crack their butt instead, you may cause a wreck by them jumping into the horse in front of them. Between the ears is the best spot.

Good luck.

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post #24 of 28 Old 10-15-2012, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Ohio
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That is a lot of very helpful information!!! I love Clinton Anderson! He has helped me a lot with some of my problems. That is a good idea to bop him between the ears since he won't see it coming! Thanks!! I can't wait to put it to work!
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post #25 of 28 Old 10-16-2012, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: marble city ok
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My gelding does same thing as long as he dont stop i just let him eat on the run kind of like fast food
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post #26 of 28 Old 10-16-2012, 11:31 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 807
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My horse had that problem too, and the best advice I got (from this site!!) was to teach a verbal cue ("ahh-ahhhh!") by using the Watering Hole game (a Parelli game).

In the center of the round pen I would place a pan of feed. I stood next to it and every time Herc approached to eat I would say "ahh-ahhh!" sharply. At first I had to use other physical cues too so he knew I was the boss and I was serious about the feed pan. I would stop a foot, take a few steps towards him and shoo him away. It only took one day. Now when we're on the trail and he reaches out for something, the verbal cue is all that's needed; and usually only once or twice on the trail until he stops trying to munch completely!

Good luck!!
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post #27 of 28 Old 10-16-2012, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Ohio
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That is something I am going to try because my horse responds very well to verbal cues.
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post #28 of 28 Old 10-16-2012, 12:29 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Indiana
Posts: 4,378
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If you like to stop and allow grazing mid ride I would suggest that you get in the habit of swapping the bridle for a halter and lead - further cementing the idea that "bit in mouth=NO eating". While being dismounted is one cue, furthering that by changing the "hardware" is another clear cue to the horse as to when it is/isn't okay to be trying to eat.
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eating , prevention , trails

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