Foraging on trail rides: to bit or not to bit?
 
 

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Foraging on trail rides: to bit or not to bit?

This is a discussion on Foraging on trail rides: to bit or not to bit? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • What is a good bit to trail ride in
  • What bit to trail ride in

 
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    01-10-2011, 11:39 AM
  #1
Weanling
Foraging on trail rides: to bit or not to bit?

The US Calvary, back in the day, had a general rule of thumb of letting the horses forage for 10 minutes each hour of riding. Or so I've read. Gives the riders and horses a good break from riding, too. True or not, it seems like a reasonable plan on a long trail ride, assuming there's forage to be had. Expecially if on a multi-day trip it seems like a good plan.

So if I stop to let the horse forage, should I remove the bridle and bit? I have a lead rope ring on the bridle and I have carabiners attached to the D rings on the saddle that I can hook the reins into so he can't get in trouble with the reins. So, I can control him and keep him safe with the bridle/bit on.

But should I remove it to make it easier/safer for him to actually accomplish the task of foraging? He sometimes grabs a snack as we ride so I know he CAN eat with the bit in. But is that a good option for a longer forage stop?

Thanks!
     
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    01-10-2011, 12:13 PM
  #2
Showing
We remove the bit when we stop for a break. We do it every hour for about 10-15 minutes. I didn't know it was a Calvary thing We have halter bridle combo's for all the horses. I just use my reins as a lead rope.
I better add, the photo in my avatar is on a short ride. For longer rides I use my halter bridle setup
     
    01-10-2011, 08:19 PM
  #3
Weanling
Removing the bit from Mr. Big's bridle is a royal pain in that part of the anatomy that is in intimate contact with the saddle. It's a LOT easier to take off the bridle and put on a halter--or leave the halter on underneith so it's ready.

Do you have some sort of quick release for your bits?

I honestly haven't tried the stop every hour routine, yet. I'm only just now comfortable enough getting back into the saddle to be willing to get out of the saddle without there being a bit of an emergency. I still have to have a big step up--but most anything will work.
     
    01-11-2011, 01:34 PM
  #4
Yearling
It helps to keep the horses gut moving to allow them to graze a little during the ride.

You will have to look at how you train your horses. Do you allow them to garb a bit along the trail? You may want to set up rules that say, You can only eat when I have removed the bit. Or you can only eat when I stop and queue you a certain way. I don't like horses that thnk they can stop and grab a bunch of grass anytime they want. But I do think I avoid colic and other problems by allowing my horses to eat during a ride.

I often carry hobbles, And if we stop for a half hour for lunch, I remove the bridle and often put the hobbles on. I allow the horses to wander and graze while I eat lunch. For short photo ops or rest stops, I just let the horses graze with the bit in their mouth. Years ago, I rode a horse in a hackamore with no bit, Thinking it would allow him to graze easier, Anymore I don't worry about it. They somehow get the grass down their gut with or with out a bit.

The choice is up to you and how you want to cue your horse that its ok to eat at that moment in time
     
    01-13-2011, 07:27 PM
  #5
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorGriz    
Removing the bit from Mr. Big's bridle is a royal pain in that part of the anatomy that is in intimate contact with the saddle. It's a LOT easier to take off the bridle and put on a halter--or leave the halter on underneith so it's ready.

Do you have some sort of quick release for your bits?

I honestly haven't tried the stop every hour routine, yet. I'm only just now comfortable enough getting back into the saddle to be willing to get out of the saddle without there being a bit of an emergency. I still have to have a big step up--but most anything will work.

Here's me and Vida. Its the best photo I could find of her halter bridle combo. If you can see, the bit piece has a piece of leather attached with clips. That then clips to the halter. That particular halter set is made by Smith Amish Tack
We do sometimes just do a rope halter under the bridle, although I do prefer the combo set.
As far as a step up. I either put her in a low spot on the ground or get a boost from someone if we are with other. I have no problem asking for a hand shoving my fat butt up on the saddle
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 100_1455.jpg (58.9 KB, 140 views)
     
    01-13-2011, 09:50 PM
  #6
Weanling
Thanks Vidaloco! Based on the other responses I think I'll try just leaving the bridle on with the bit in. If it seems to cause Shandy any problems I'll probably just leave a rope halter under the bridle and pull the bridle for foraging.

Be a lot easier to not have to put the bridle back on, tho. Not that he makes it particularly difficult but he does sometimes like to play games. Silly horse!

He plays games, sometimes, when I try to catch him, too. He'll avoid me, just barely, just long enough to make sure I know he CAN avoid me--then he stands stock still for whatever I need to do. Silly horse.
     
    01-13-2011, 10:24 PM
  #7
Weanling
I don't typically let them eat, but our rides arent over a few hrs long (unless we get lost lol). I typically ride trails in a hackamore so a bit isnt really an issue for me anyways.
     
    01-13-2011, 11:05 PM
  #8
Yearling
None of my horses have ever refused to eat when their bit is in their mouths LOL. Seriously, though, I would would love to have a nice halter/bridle combo for trails so that I could have a tidy halter underneath the bridle...
     
    01-14-2011, 07:05 AM
  #9
Started
Valley vet just sells the cheek pieces if you wanted to try on on a halter you already own. I had one but prefer to just let my horses grab a bite with a bit in their mouth.
     
    01-14-2011, 05:08 PM
  #10
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Painted Horse    
I don't like horses that thnk they can stop and grab a bunch of grass anytime they want.
They somehow get the grass down their gut with or with out a bit.
Amen

I went through the phase where I let the beast eat as he pleased going down the trail. I created a monster by doing so. It took a long time before he got the idea that when we're walking his job is to walk and pay attention to where we're going. He's allowed to eat when we; 1 - stop 2 - the reins are dropped on his neck.

I believe that I read the same thing about the calvary rest stops. I think an important thing to remember with that is that the text was written back in the day when horses were working animals, all the feed supplements that we have now weren't around, and in general horses then had a much rougher life than today.

Generally when I'm out for a day ride I'll graze during lunch and perhaps (not always) during breaks. Food is always available at the trailer before and after a ride.

When going out for longer I'll graze for an hour or so in the morning, at lunch, and again at dinner. I also always take along some type of catch grain.
     

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