My horse wants to constantly try to eat on the trails...
Ok, when I got my horse he was underweight because he was just getting mostly hay and oats. He has come along great and looking good, but he wants to eat while riding the trails.
How can I keep him from doing this? He constantly wants to eat the tall grass, weeds, leaves...anything he can get to. I try to snatch him before he does it, but he usually beats me to it and is already trying to get a bite. I'm a newbie to horse ownership and this is one of the problems he is giving me. Trail rides are more work than fun anymore. He always acts like he's starving.
Another issue is that he has started kicking out at least once while on the trail. He never did this at all until he got spooked one time on a trail ride near the road by a loud trucks muffler. I thought it was odd that ever since then he seems to kick out at least once. I figure it is due to it being cooler weather and feeling good. What should I do to correct this if he does this again?
This sounds like him being a jerk more than him being starved or anything.
When he tries to kick or eat, I would one rein stop or back him. This is what I do when mine tries to pull the reins from my hands and it works well for me.
I would do the same as what Spastic said. Also if he wants to be really naughty carry a crop ; the minute he puts his head down to eat give him a smack on the bumb and ask him to keep walking forward. As for the kick .. meh just ignore it. :) If it starts getting worse than would be the time to worry about it.
Hope It Helps
Try putting an overcheck on him while you ride. It will reduce his freedom to reach along the trail and eat. Once he realizes he isn't going through the drivethrough of dunkin doughnuts because he can't reach the window then he will stop trying. You may also want to try leading him through the woods while you are on the ground and then you can have better control and reprimand him not to eat better from the ground which will make it all the better when you go for a ride.
Is an over-check like....a backwards tie down? Or similar to a check for driving?
I wouldn't like this solution because I think it just masks the problem, but it's worth a shot.
I agree with Spastic, when he goes to eat, make him turn circles or back up. Most of the time this will help. Some horses are just that way though. Most of the time it is a learned habit but my Mustang has been like that from day 1 when we brought him home. I have tried almost everything and he just won't stop. BUT, it doesn't cause a problem so I just kinda ignore it. He never does it when we are moving faster than a walk though. If they do it when you are trotting or loping, then it could be dangerous.
an over-check is just a piece of leather, nylon, or rope the attaches the bridle or bit whichever is preferred to the saddle and helps prevent grazing. it helps them understand that you do not appreciate them eating and helps them focus on you for a while. once they find focusing on you interesting they will prefer it over eating.
Thanks for the feedback. I will try these suggestions the next time.
Yep, like the others said, try circles, or backing up. :) My old mare Lexi used to do this all the time- circling really helped solve the problem.
The circling or backing up is very good suggestions. I think they are both so effective because they are moving, but getting no where. When I was working with my horse just at halter a year or so ago, the circling helped tremendously with keeping her in check with me. Every time she'd start to walk out ahead of me, we did a circle and tried it again. (Oh, & btw... these are small circles we are talking about.. not big rounded out ones. lol) After not to long of this, she realised that if she didn't stay with me, she'd still have to do a lot of movement, without any progression in the actual distance traveled. (With consideration of how horses are in the wild, you can see how this is something the horse will usually try to prevent from happening. In my horses case, stay with me, we get somewhere. Don't, and we're staying here for a while.) Sorry.. I don't really know how else to explain it. lol.
As for the grazing on the trails, definately one of those things you don't want to become a habbit. My uncle has this horse who he's had it's entire life (now 20something), and has always let it graze while riding. He let his kid ride the horse that day, and my other uncle (who was riding with them at the time), said that the horse just flat out stopped on this one hillside (that mind you is very steep and rocky) and started munching on a patch of grass sticking out of the rocks. Definately not a 'wonderful' time to eat! But, being that this horse always got away with it... did it anyways.
Ok, now for my own personal experience with the issue. rofl. My horse Misty (who is still green, 6 years old, and had last year off for having a baby.. we bought her pregnant the fall before and didn't know lol) got to be ridden again this year, and that was probably the biggest problem I ran in to with her on the trail. (She was GREAT otherwise... didn't have any other problems with the unbelievably huge amount of down trees from the bad winter before, water crossings, porcupines, etc. lol) I didn't have as much problems with it on our half day rides, because being green she was more interested in all the things around her then her belly. But at the end of the summer we went on an all day ride in the mountains, and all that grass looked pretty tasty to her. Though tedious, I kept on her about not eating, and though reluctant at first, she soon gave in. It went from a quick 'bite the grass as we walk by', to 'put head in that direction and if no threat from mom take a bite', to 'fine, I'll stop bugging you about it'. Horses will test you and will be persistant about it, but if you stay consistant with what you're telling them, after a while they usually give in.
Anyways.. yea. lol. Sorry... I'm just a firm believer in telling personal experiences as answers, rather than 'do this'. Which tends to make my posts long... but, I think that you learn and can make your own decisions better when you know what others have done in similar situations.
Hope this helps!
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