Horses snacking on the trail - problem? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 08-28-2010, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Location: NE Ohio
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Horses snacking on the trail - problem?

Whenever my husband and I ride our horses, he spends a good amount of the time nagging me about letting my horse have an occasional snack, amongst other things. If we've stopped for a minute or two, I'll let her put her head down to eat a little grass. I don't think it is a big deal, he thinks that it is terrible and I get to hear, "Don't let her do that." He sees it as her being "disrespectful". I see it as, "I'm expecting this horse to work hard for a 2-10 hour ride, I should let her snack a bit if it doesn't interrupt the ride." I do not let her do it all of the time.

He's the same way about letting them drink at creeks. He always stops his horse before I stop mine, and tells me, "That's enough, she doesn't need that much." I kinda figure we're having highs in the 80's and 90's these days, I'd like her to get all of the water she wants/needs.

How much do you let your horses "snack" on the trail? Do you see it as a huge problem? Does it bother you if other people allow their horses to?

I was normal...then I got a horse.
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post #2 of 25 Old 08-28-2010, 11:38 PM
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I don't let my horse snack, but I do let her drink as much as she wants. As long as it's not causing a problem it doesn't bother me if other people let their horses snack.

That puppy looks just like a puppy I once had!

Last edited by haviris; 08-28-2010 at 11:41 PM.
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post #3 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info.

The puppy is now 5 1/2 mos old and 85 pounds! I need to post a newer picture.

I was normal...then I got a horse.
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post #4 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 08:11 AM
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At the last place where I was going trail riding the instructor made a clear difference between a horse getting himself a snack and being allowed to.

That is, if it wasn't my idea, he was asking me to stop the horse from eating (if all of a sudden he would slow down to graze)
But we had 2-3 breaks / trail and in those the horses were allowed to graze and drink for 10 minutes

So I guess it matters a lot who came up with the idea of a snack break, ou or the horse
Honestly I see no biggie in letting them munch some leaves or something, as long as they don't abruptly stop to do it.

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post #5 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 10:14 AM
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I like to let my horse every once in a while get a few bites, if she can snatch tall grass or leaves or something while walking at the pace I want to go, then I don't stop her. I use eating to actually calm down really nervous horses, because if the herd leader says it's okay to eat...then it must be ok!
But she or any other horse doesn't inturupt the ride to eat, only if I say so.
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post #6 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 10:17 AM
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For a two hour ride, I'm sure the horse can go that long with out eating.
For all day rides. 6-8-10 hours. I think it's important to keep their gut working.

If my horse show any interest in water, I usually stop and give him a chance to drink. If he immediately grabs grass rather than water, then he is not thirsty and we continue. If I know the trail and know that there is no water for some period after a stop. I will try to get him to drink at that spot. Basically keep refocusing the horse on the water and pulling him away from any grass.

I strongly believe that keeping a horse's gut moving is a strong preventor of colic. I can work my horses and as long as they have water and feed pushing through their gut, they are not as likely to colic. This all comes back to my early days riding CTR when the Vets would listen for gut sounds. A reduced gut sound got points deducted for the ride. So we allowed our horses to snak when ever we find a good spot for them to grab a mounthful or two. In some desert rides, we have very little water, so green grass is a way to keep water in the gut.

Now the disrespect part is the horse just stopping and snaking on his own. They should keep focus on the ride until you queue them that they can snak.
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post #7 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 10:19 AM
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Eating while tacked up is one of my biggest pet peeves. When we are stopped for a break, Ill drop my reins and let them eat. Any other time, its just not acceptable to me. Its a personal thing. As far as drinking goes...horses need a lot of water. Especially on a hot day while exercising. As long as they arent playing around too much...they can drink til they get their fill.
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post #8 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 10:52 AM
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I don't really have any problem with letting my horses graze when it is clearly my idea. Anytime we're stopped for more than 5 minutes or so, I jump down and loosen the girth and if its been a longer ride, I also let my horse graze for a bit. If you have a "snatcher" on the other hand, I don't put up with it at all.. These are the horses that I never let graze while tacked up.

My mare understands when she is allowed to and when she is not to, so I let her when we're not on the move. My gelding doesn't. He'll snatch grass any chance he gets and if you're not paying attention, he'll get his face down there and just eat. He rarely gives me this problem, but he can be a turd for my boyfriend, who cannot quite anticipate him just yet. So, anytime I ride him, I just don't let him graze. I don't want to encourage that behavior at all.

If its your idea for the horse to be grazing, I wouldn't consider it a problem unless it developed into "snatching" without permission.

As for drinking, let the horses have their fill, especially in hot weather. Just take it easy on the trail for a bit afterwards. Some horses get "fresh" again after drinking, so they want to go, go, go.. If your horse is like that, I can see restricting it to a degree, but for the most part, let them drink. I'd just tell him to bugger off.. ha
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post #9 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 12:07 PM
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I only worry about if they take too much long grass and it getting stuck on the bit and them choking. Overall I don't mind as long as it's not getting in the way of the ride ie: pulling on the reins, dodgeing off the trail to get a bite, slowing down. But if they can still focus and keep up pace it doesn't really bother me.
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post #10 of 25 Old 08-29-2010, 12:50 PM
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When I first got my mare, she was REALLY bad about eating on the trail. She would try to grab food constantly.

So I trained her to eat on cue and now she never eats unless I tell her she can. She doesn't grab bites while we're moving, and when I stop her she stands still until I tell her she can put her head down (by scratching the top of her mane, halfway down her neck). And when we stop for a drink, she knows she's not allowed to eat - even if there's grass under the water.

If I see another person's horse put their head down to eat forcefully (and nearly yank the reins out of their hands), it bothers me. But then, it bothers me a lot when people don't have well-trained animals, haha.

As far as drinking... :O

It shocks me that your husband won't let his horse drink as much as he wants. But then, I'm coming from an area where the heat index is often 110 degrees, and I do some hard riding. Getting enough water is literally life or death for people and animals in this area.
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