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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, I know it sounds ridiculous but I went for a ride on Phoenix this weekend that was just awful. This is the first real ride oppurtunity I have had in over a month due to weather. Phoenix had gotten rather overwieght so I have cut her food down and this was the first ride I have had since I have done so.

She was absolutely totally obsessed with eating! I was riding with two other friends but that made no difference. We started walking down the road. My horse kept walking into the bank on the side of the road so she could snatch mouthfuls of food, literally rubbing me into the scrub. We got out onto paddocks and every 3rd or 4th step her head would go down to eat. She is so strong and it would be a wrestle to get her head back up, ofcourse in the time it took me to get her head back up she was able to snatch a mouthful of food which ofcourse encouraged her to do it again, and again, and again.

Then when i tried to open gates on her she was just a bitch. As soon as she felt me lean to unlatch a gate down the head would go and she just wouldn't move. She completely ignored every leg aid I tried to apply and by about half way into the ride I'm just hauling on her mouth to get her to move. Which ofcourse is the last thing I want to be doing. At this stage it is REALLY frustrating but then it hits a whole new level.

We are going down a very steep track cut into the side of a hill. There is a pretty steep drop on one side of us and a grassy bank on the inside. Like I said we have had a lot of rain and the track was pretty slippery. Suddenly, and this is because I had a loose rein to let Phoenix negotiate her way down, her head lunges out to snatch a mouthful of food. I think she tried to side step over to get closer to the food, one foot slipped, she tripped over her own foot and nearly sent us head long down the track. I shat myself! I have never had this problem before - on any horse! I know horses like to snatch mouthfuls of food occassionaly but this was ridiculous and ended up being dangerous.
 

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I've ridden horses with this problem before--here in FL we have LOTS of hanging moss on our trails, and the horses looove to snatch some to snack on as they walk by....my rule is if he can do it while hes moving its okay. But my gelding likes to occasionally try to stop and eat the grass that grows near the water trough in our arena.

Next time, pop her on the shoulder/butt with either the end of you reins, your hand, or a crop. Every time her head goes down, give her a quick smack with it and urge her forward.
 

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I know that I am probably going to get questions about how 'hungry' my horse is. I went out today and took some pics of her in her paddock. Tell me if this looks like a horse that is starving to death. She is in a quarter acre paddock with very short grass but also gets hay. During the day she is relaxed and spends a lot of time dozing in her favourite places, not desperately looking for food. She slowly nibbles on her hay and doesn't gulp it. Personally I am coming to the conclusion that she has just realised how strong she is and is taking the ****. Let me know if you disagree.
 

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yeah I have had horses that nibble along the way but this was her shoving her head down and flat out refusing to move, every couple of steps! I am hoping that I don't end up with spurs and whip but can't see any way around it. I'm looking for lots of alternatives.
 

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She looks in good weight and I love her sooty bay color. Shiny.

They make these strings the go over your horses head and in their mouth like a halter and you attach it to the d rings of your saddle. When her head goes down far enough to eat she gets pulled on and can't. I've never used one though.

Like Justsam I let the horses I ride grab a bite to each if they keep moving at the same pace (lol my old horse actually bopped himself in the chin while trying to grab the growing alfalfa we were riding on while cantering :p). I like to let them stop and get a bite to eat for a minute while on the trails. I press on the top of their neck and they know I'm letting them put their head down and eat. If they stop to eat when I haven't allowed them to then they get send forward and do more work. I like to use a verbal cue like "Ah!" to let them know they shouldn't be doing what their doing. When they stop to try to eat and they listen to my leg cue to keep going I make sure to rub them and tell them how good they are. Praise goes a long way with most horses.

Well sorry for the novel! Good luck and she's a gorgeous horse!
 

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yeah I have had horses that nibble along the way but this was her shoving her head down and flat out refusing to move, every couple of steps! I am hoping that I don't end up with spurs and whip but can't see any way around it. I'm looking for lots of alternatives.
Why would you not want to use the tools needed to get the job done? I would use some spurs or a crop or both and really lay into her when her head went down. I would put a little contact on the reins and drive a spur into her while smacking her on the rump with the crop. I never let my horses eat while I'm on them. Even if we are stopped. If you just continue to pul;l on her mouth she soon will learn to ignore that as well.
 

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Why would you not want to use the tools needed to get the job done? I would use some spurs or a crop or both and really lay into her when her head went down. I would put a little contact on the reins and drive a spur into her while smacking her on the rump with the crop.

Sorry Kevinshorses, but I do not believe that that is the right thing to do, you want them to respect you not fear you. If you ride western, tie a knot in the end of your reins (if they're split reins, if not don't worry about it.) That way when they but their head down they are stopped and horses are intelligent creatures, they'll catch on. Hope that helps.
 

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All horses really want to do is eat, eat and make babies once in a while. Pulling on the reins to keep their head up just creates a hard mouth. You definately need to keep her thinking about you rather than eating to be safe. What it takes to "convince her" to think about you is hard to say without being on her and knowing her. Start light and increase the pressure until you find the level of pressure that you need to apply to get her to focus on you. Best to keep her mind on you all the time when you are on her back-to be safe.
 

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Why would you not want to use the tools needed to get the job done? I would use some spurs or a crop or both and really lay into her when her head went down. I would put a little contact on the reins and drive a spur into her while smacking her on the rump with the crop. I never let my horses eat while I'm on them. Even if we are stopped. If you just continue to pul;l on her mouth she soon will learn to ignore that as well.
Thats a little harsh don't you think?
 

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I agree with Kevinshorses..
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I did actually do an experimenton the ride. When we got to a gate that I had to get off and open I looped the reins over the horn of the saddle, just out of curiosity to see how long it took for her to stop pulling. She leaned into those riens with all her might, her lips were stretching (and making pup pup noises), the back of the saddle was lifting up (the rear cinch was a little loose from the ride). Apparently she and the reins reached a stalemate, Phoenix continued to lean on those reins with eyes closed and a look of concentration on her face her whole demeanor was "not IF those reins are going to give but WHEN!". I got sick of the stalemate first got back on her and the minute she felt slack in those reins DOWN went the head.

I fear Kevin is probably right, I have suspected that that is what I will have to do. Phoenix is not a horse that worries too much about pressure, I have had to stop her flattening an 8 wire fence - she was leaning on it. She has destroyed wooden fences, wire fences, and folded pipe gates, but electricity stops her. A short, sharp shock is going to have to be the way I think!

Thanks guys for the suggestions, fortunately Phoenny is fairly easy going so a couple of bites on the bum will probably do the trick. I was also kind of hoping that some one could tell me if this is a problem that I have created and if so where do you think I went wrong.
 

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Why would you not want to use the tools needed to get the job done? I would use some spurs or a crop or both and really lay into her when her head went down. I would put a little contact on the reins and drive a spur into her while smacking her on the rump with the crop. I never let my horses eat while I'm on them. Even if we are stopped. If you just continue to pul;l on her mouth she soon will learn to ignore that as well.
I have to agree with you, Horses can put up with alot && it's a very slight chance it would be painful for them if you used spurs on her to keep her head up.. Spurs are not harsh and they can be very help full.. You won't have to use them on her for ever but for now while she has got this obsession it is the best way out of the drama .. Think if you use them the right way it will not hurt her at all..
 

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I have to agree with Kevin on this one; use either spur (blunt ones, if you want), and a dressage whip, so you don't have to reach around too far.

I would 'give' her the opportunity to try eating by making sure you ride with some slack in the reins, and when she does pick up your reins, give her a squeeze, then a bump, and a thwack with the crop...increase the pressure until she picks up her head and moves on.

She is definitely NOT starving...Lol!
 

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I was also kind of hoping that some one could tell me if this is a problem that I have created and if so where do you think I went wrong.
Of course you caused the problem. The first time you allowed him to take a mouth full of grass without some consequenses it set the ball rolling.
 

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Agreed with kevinshorses. This isn't a case of "training", this is a case of "you effin' know better horse, stop disrespecting me!" We have an old trail mare like that, who even at 11 years old still thinks it's fun to try and grab grass even when she has a pasture full of the stuff. Every so often she tries it with me, and one wallop across the rear with my reins is all it takes to remind her who's on her.

In retrospect, my filly is 2 years old and still learning it isn't an option. I prefer not to be so "scary" with her because she's still learning. She still gets a hard bump with my heels when she dips that head, but at this point she's listening to that command so it's not necessary to escalate my demand. If she's still trying next summer after a winter of riding and learning to respect, she's going to see the ugly ends of my reins.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Of course you caused the problem. The first time you allowed him to take a mouth full of grass without some consequenses it set the ball rolling.
Thanks for that Kevin, sometimes it is that easy isn't it!:)

I don't own a dressage whip, I will invest in one this week. I think I may have this problem 'whipped' pretty quick. I know it probably seems like a very inane and silly problem to whine about. it's just that I have had it suggested to me a few times since I joined this forum that you can deal with any problem without raising a hand to your horse. My first instinct has been to get a stick and smack Phoenix on the bum but I thought I would open it up and look for alternatives.
 

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When I used to ride my horse out that was all he did, so I would give him a smack on the bum and make him work harder because he made the wrong choice. I hope this was helpful lol.
 

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You could spend alot of time curing the problem without smacking your horse but in this case I would do it the easy way and get it over with. Just pay attention and try to redirect the horse before she thinks about eating.
 

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Thanks for that Kevin, sometimes it is that easy isn't it!:)

I don't own a dressage whip, I will invest in one this week. I think I may have this problem 'whipped' pretty quick. I know it probably seems like a very inane and silly problem to whine about. it's just that I have had it suggested to me a few times since I joined this forum that you can deal with any problem without raising a hand to your horse. My first instinct has been to get a stick and smack Phoenix on the bum but I thought I would open it up and look for alternatives.
You can also make one.
My last crop was the end of an old fishing pole..I duct taped one end for grip and its lasted 2yrs. :oops:
 
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