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melinda27858 02-25-2008 10:51 PM

Wants to graze when leading...
I have done a lot of ground work with my horse, but one thing I have yet to master is leading him across grassy areas without having him drop his head to graze. In any other aspect he is great!

Food is one thing that I have noticed my gelding is very nutty about. He would eat himself to death if he could. Now, I believe he is getting enough to eat based on the amount of exercise he recieves, so I know he is not doing it out of starvation!

I would love to be able to lead him from his pasture to the barn without fighting him to pick his head back up off the ground!

What different tricks does anyone have to suggest (if any at all....I hope!)??? Help me!!!

Gypsy29 02-26-2008 12:55 AM

Every time he even starts to drop his head like he is going to eat do something to get his attention back on you. Try either backing him up or pivoting him (backing is probably the easiest). Something that will be more work than just walking nicely and makes him realize that he is not supposed to do eat.

Equina 02-26-2008 01:47 AM

Gypsy's idea is a good one.

A simple thing that I do is this...(ok, a lot of typing, but it surely is simple)

When he tries to take that first bite...I say "HEY!" in a quick, firm voice. If he keeps going for the grass, I then say "HEY" and give a quick pull downwards on the lead rope (it makes a noise from the snap hitting the halter ring plus applies pressure to nose and poll). If that fails, I then do the "HEY," the quick pull, and I add a lunge towards him with my body ending in a stomp on the ground near his head. That for SURE gets his head away from the grass! Like in a heard, if the alpha horse suddenly lunges towards another horse, the other horse will surely back down.

Anyways, then a few steps down the grassy road, he tries for another tasty blade of grass. So I repeat..."HEY!" If needed, I'll go again with the "HEY" and quick pull on the lead. He's probably got the idea by now: "HEY" means stop eating grass and pay attention to your handler!

I did this with my horse when I first brought him to my barn because right where we tacked up & bridled there is always a bale of hay for feeding. Well every time that I'd take his halter off to bridle, he'd dive straight for the hay. After a few days of this, he responded to me simply saying "HEY" when he veered towards the hay. Soon, I'd simply have to look directly at him and he'd behave. Now he finally just stands there. Every now and then he'll try to snag a bite, but I say "HEY" and he's back at full attention! It's also good for that occasional time when he tries to chew on the arena rail or something..."HEY!" and he stops.

melinda27858 02-26-2008 09:17 AM

Great ideas! I was saying "no" in a loud voice and giving a jerk up on the lead (I use a rope halter, no chain or ring)....soon I paired that with a stomp which didn't phase him at all. I guess I just need to be more aggressive with it, but I also love backing each time too. I don't know why I didn't think of that! I will try both suggestions out!

Spirithorse 02-26-2008 10:45 AM

I would take a less aggressive approach. First I'll say that the more you try to keep your horse from eating grass, the worse he will be. So you want to use the grass as incentive to do what you asked. Because you said he's crazy about food that will be a very good motivator for him. So as you walk keep a nice loose lead rope. Walk with purpose. If he dives for grass IMMEDIATELY turn around and as you pass his rump tag him with the end of your rope on the hindquarters. You'll want a long rope, at least 12 ft. Then walk with purpose again. Soon he will get the hint. Then you can start working with him in grassy areas and when he does good you reward him by letting him eat grass. That way he becomes respectful and doesn't feel the need to dive for grass.

Gypsy29 02-26-2008 01:27 PM

[quote]Walk with purpose. If he dives for grass IMMEDIATELY turn around and as you pass his rump tag him with the end of your rope on the hindquarters. You'll want a long rope, at least 12 ft. Then walk with purpose again. Soon he will get the hint.

Sorry, but I don't really understand what you are getting at. If he stops to eat do you turn around and walk towards him and "tag" him with the rope? I don't see how this would work. And how is this less agressive? You are actually hitting him with the rope. I have a horse that absolutely loves to eat and I used the method of first saying up and then backing her if she didn't listen and it worked wonders. All I have to do now is look at her and say up. Also at a barn I work at there is a hay bale right were we saddle. Every time she goes for the bale I would say up and back her up. Now I can even go in to the tack room and just say up and she listens. I am sorry but I just don't understanding your method. Could you clarify?

kitten_Val 02-26-2008 02:55 PM

When mine try to graze (and she's very bad on that) I move her hindquarters half-circle and then back her in direction we were walking.

Abby 02-26-2008 03:49 PM

If any of the suggested methods do not work, what works well for my horse is jiggling the rope, when he drops his head, I say "Head Up!" and then start jiggling the rope slowly with increasing pressure until he throws his head up, then I pet him and say good boy and we move on, that way if it ever happens on the trail, I say "Head UP!" and his head goes up and I don't have to yank on the reins.

Spirithorse 02-26-2008 06:18 PM

Gypsy, say you are leading the horse from the left. He dives for grass so you turn toward your left and go back the way you came but on the way if the horse doesn't pay attention he gets tagged. This is not aggressive because there is no yelling (thus no emotions), there isn't any jerking on the horse's head, and the horse in the end blames himself for getting tagged, not you. See if he DID pay attention he would move out of the way. And if he doesn't go for grass until you tell him he can none of the above will happen. And if you tag the horse do it very nonchalantly (as in your body language). You don't have to whack the crap out of him but make it known that he should pay attention.

tim 02-26-2008 06:29 PM

I would personally never use food as a motivator for your horse, it will put your entire training program on the foundation of food. It's pretty shaky ground. The horse just needs to learn that it's not acceptable. Don't allow it ever.

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