The best technique?
What is the best technique to retrain a horse that wants to stop and snack on grass all the time?
One horse does it while being led and ridden (at a walk), and the other horse does it while being led, ridden at a walk, and also once at a trot! Not fun!
Other than using one of those special pieces of equipment to keep the horse from doing it, how can you naturally train the horse that it is unacceptable to snack while 'working'?
Get after them for stopping. As soon as you feel the head start to go for grass, give them a kick and aybe a verbal reprimand. Make them respect you - don't let them eat while they're working. It is a bad behaviour that has to be corrected, and you can't let up on that training at all.. what I mean is that if you don't want the horse to eat while "on the job" then you can't let it ever happen. Horses don't understand the "okay just this once" mentality - if you deicde that they aren't allowed to eat while the saddle is on, or you're riding, then you have to be firm in that.
Some people take it as far as once the horse has its halter on, that means they don't get to graze, and for your situation that might not be a bad idea.
Okay, thank you!
My biggest problem is my mom. She isn't being consistent with it, and lets Pawnee snack with the halter on if we're not actually going somewhere right at that second. Only problem is that then Pawnee puts on the brakes and tries to stop constantly, because I'm pretty sure he knows that she lets him eat when we're stopped.
Once my horse is moved out there (in less than a week) I'll have control over mine, and she can have control over hers. I'm thinking I'll probably go with the "no snacking while the halter is on" method for mine. If my mom wants to keep the problem alive with her horse...*sigh* there's not much I can do.
Is it easy to train a horse verbal commands to let them know when it is and isn't okay? Or does that just confuse them?
I think it would be just confusing. But that's just my opinion. Horses aren't like dogs... they respond to tone more than individual words (i.e. when I'm lunging, I use a low and slow tone for "waaaaalk" and a chipper, quicker tone for "terr-ot!")
Anyways, I'm guessing it's not impossible per se, but very hard. Maybe someone else has more experience with verbal training, I don't.. sorry!
Thanks! That's very interesting to know. When I was looking for horses for purchasing, I met quite a few people who bragged about their horse being completely trained with verbal commands. I wonder if it was just a tone change now, rather than an actual word!
Yeah, hopefully I'll get some more input, because once we move her in less than a week, I want to be consistent right from the beginning. I might just end up following what you said, with no eating allowed with the halter on.
I agree with what JDI said. Be consistent and he'll learn that it's not appropriate.
As for using verbal commands to tell your horse when it's okay and when it's not okay to graze...I tried it. He was really good about listening to the "it's not okay" command (I'd growl at him and put on my angry face). Then I tried to teach him the command "graze" (in a sweet voice) when I wanted to allow him to graze (with halter & lead rope). I think it kind of confused him because he didn't connect the "graze" to being allowed to graze. So, now when I want him to relax and graze, I sit down in the grass and start tearing at the grass (like I'm grazing). It sounds kind of goofy, but just the body language of me grazing gives him the clue to graze as well. But me walking by his side (or riding) means it's not time to graze.
I love that your horse's name is Pawnee! The first horse I ever rode (& first I ever jumped with) was named Pawnee. People always called him Pony and I'd have to explain the whole Native American Tribe name and such. :wink:
Here is a quick article Parelli wrote on this topic......maybe it will help you.
Horse Eating Grass
It's a common scenario; long, lush, enticing grass everywhere, and we want to play with our horse. Let's consider two things; when don't you want him to eat grass... and, what you can do to stop him that is fair, friendly and uses psychology and communication rather than punishment?
When don't I want him to eat grass?
I often hear people say, "I never let my horse eat grass when I'm riding", and guess what...their horse is one of the worst! He takes every opportunity to lunge at the grass, even unseating the rider to get at it.
If we think about it from his point of view, he's surrounded by delicious grass and then gets punished for wanting to eat it. This is just like taking a small child into a candy store and expecting him to have enough self-control to ignore all that candy. It's a pretty tough thing to ask, right?
By being more considerate, we could give him some time to eat before asking for his full attention, then allow him to eat it now and then, but only when you invite it. Be sure to give permission rather than just letting him plunge his head down. Invite him by using the Porcupine Game... simply lower his head to the ground when you want him to graze. It's a great way to improve Game #2!
How can I stop him when he does try?
The first thing is to clearly establish your alpha position in his herd through the Seven Games. You've also proved to your horse that you're not an unreasonable person, and that you're considerate of his desires. This prevents any resentment from forming as you become particular when he eats grass.
Now, use cause and effect. When your horse lowers is head, allow him to start munching without even touching the reins or rope, then smooch and lightly begin tapping his hindquarters, becoming firmer and firmer until his head pops up. Stop tapping right away and rub.
At first it may be a surprised reaction and his head may go straight down again. Just repeat the smooch and progressively firmer tapping until his head comes up, then rub him again.
Very quickly, a quiet smooch is all it takes to ask your horse to lift his head from eating grass. Your horse will learn to graze when you invite him to, and to stand respectfully until you do. Your horse will now think first whether he's been invited to eat before just hauling you into the brush for a quick bite.
Be prepared to out-persist your horse on this once your phases of firmness and timing of the rub is effective, the change is lasting, and sure beats the old habit of pulling on his reins or lead rope, not to mention his building resentment from your lack of regard for his desires.
This combination of knowing the horses desire, establishing our expectation, and having the technique to communicate without punishment is very effective. If you feel yourself getting mad, remember that it's nothing personal, and he's been munching grass much longer than you've been asking him not to. Hang in there with him; smile, whistle, and have fun with this project.
I would start with having a good old fashioned talk wtih your mom and explain your concerns, your training goals, and why you would like to stop this certain behaviors. The the TWO of you could work on it together. It would stink if you were teaching one thing and your mom was trying to be nice to your horse one day and messed up what you have been working on. Good Communication between the two of you will help prevent problems down the road.
That being said. The parelli article sounded reasonable but long. I let my horses graze when we bring them out of their pen and get them ready for the idea of work. I allow them time to eat 5 maybe 10 min. then I work on ground manners and take them to the house to be saddled. I do not let them eat when we are in the saddle...I don't want to land on my head cuz he got hungry. I do not let them eat at all untill we have stoped and dismounted and lead them to a place to eat. After typing this I realize thats kinda what parelli was saying. :roll: ok... silly me. anyways. I believe the ground manners make a heap of difference. My horses also know when I "mean it" I suppose by my tone or body language. Just be consistant. :lol:
:) That's cool that your first horse's name was Pawnee too! Pawnee's must make good first horses! ;)
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