Eating on the Trail
It has been sometime since I have talked with all of you, but I need some advice. I have an 8 yr. old gelding who just loves to eat!! This gets a bit annoying on the trail. We went out today and my hands are just about raw from him trying to pull the reins out of hands to get the grass. I have been told to give a quick yank on the reins when he does this but I dont want to be hard on his mouth. I ride him in a snaffle and would like to keep it this way. He responds very well to the bit under normal riding circumstances, he just can't resist the grass. If anyone has any ideas, I would greatly appreciate the advice. Thanks all!!
Usually what I do is instead of yanking the reins; I apply some pressure on them (with little squeezes) & bring their head up; then give them a nice kick *not too hard of course*. :) To keep them moving & listening to me.
normally what I'd do is I'd ask them to keep going forward while keeping pressure on the reins. My horse is usually good about not eating until we get to a field and all the other horse's eat.
I just ask him to move forward and he does fairly well. I do let him eat occasinoally on the trail but when I let him, not when he chooses.
Edit: Think of it this way: You are surrounded by your favorite food(s) in the whole world...you've had nothing to eat in what seems like forever....surely you would eat. Now say someone told you to leave the food and walk away. You would not do it willingly. It's a temptation for the horse to be around grass and not be able to eat it.
If you've never really used a whip or crop on him--this might be the time. When that head goes down--pop his butt and say "hup" or "no" or whatever. You want to surprise him as much as punish him here.
If he gets his head down, pull on one rein instead of both so that he can't brace against you.
I completely agree with Arrow on this one. Surprise is what has worked for us too.
Those little nibbles drive me insane. If we are out long enough I stop and give my tush a rest and allow the horses to graze when we take a break.
Eating on the trail
Rude, rude, rude! :D I hate it when horses do that. Mine have never had any problems with it. You should be able to reconize the warning signs that he is going to start to snatch a bite, so before he even thinks of it, just give him a squeeze and keep him moving! If he gets his head down before you can reprimand him, give him a pop with the crop. He will soon forget about the eating factor and listen to you. Remember to be firm!!
People who say they never let their horses eat while riding are usually the ones who have a big fight on their hands. This shouldn't be a battle and the horse shouldn't be punished for trying to do what a horse does well, and that's eat! Instead we need to let the horse know that it is ok to eat when WE say it is. I always let my horses eat when I'm riding, they give me what I asked for and I reward them for it. I do this with my newest horse especially because he is very food motivated and it keeps the relationship strong when I say, "Thank you for the effort and cooperation, now you can grab a quick bite." Something for me, something for him.
So if a horse goes to eat when I didn't say it was ok I'll simply ask the horse to trot. That's it. I feel the thought coming so I just squeeze them into a trot and when I feel relaxation I go back to the walk. This uses psychology on the horse instead of us yanking on the horse or smacking him. Works every time.
Thank you all so much for the great advice, I never thought of trying a crop. I do let him eat on the trail when we stop to take a break, but as many of you said, I want him to do it when I say and not when he decides he is going to. This causes us to lag behind and when the other horses are out of site he gets all out of sorts and has to canter to catch up. I have worked through this a little and he didn't do it much yesterday, but he has in the past and I don't like when he does this without the que to canter. Next time I will definitely try the crop and let you know how he reponds, I think it will really go well. Thanks again!!!
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