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caribou
May. 11, 2008, 02:04 PM
My draft/qh cross is EXTREMELY food-motivated, and can get very obnoxious about trying to snatch bites of food when we go out on the trails. I don't mean just little grabs here and there - he will actually trip/walk into trees etc when he is focused on eating, to the point where I am getting concerned about my safety. The other day we came out of the woods into an area that had a lot of tall grass growing around a dirt road, with the road set down about 15 feet from the top of the bank. Well the fool almost fell down the hill on his face because he was so busy trying to eat he didn't notice that that the hill was there. I tried switching him to a slightly stronger bit that what he normally goes in, and while it did help some it wasn't enough to keep him from getting enough food to be reinforced for the behavior and he was still getting his mouth snatched more than I wanted. So my next tactic was to take him out in a hackamore, carry a long dressage whip and pop him on the nose with it every time he made the grab. This worked pretty well to slow him down, but he is so fast and sneaky that even with this approach he manages to feed himself enough to keep trying. Needless to say, I am not enjoying my rides with him very much, as I have to spend the better part of my time in either constant monitoring or active popping.

So do any of you have experience fixing this kind of problem? I am honestly to the point where I think I am going to have to ride in a grazing muzzle to get any kind of peace, though I'm not sure how I would work that out. I expect I would have to get creative about rigging it up, because just sticking it on a halter and riding that way would not work. He is a big strong boy and has a tendency to be a bit of a bulldozer. I never thought I would say this, but I am actually enjoying riding my spooky TB more than this guy, as my TB at least seems to have a sense of self-preservation and a knowledge of where his feet and body are.

Help anyone? Thanks in advance!

PS - He has also had issues in the past doing this on the ground, but I have those fairly well under control now. At least with me - he did get away from the barn owner the other day when she made the mistake of trusting him to just stand there next to the open gate leading out to the good green grass while she tried to put on his grazing muzzle. He may be obnoxious, but he is no dummy. :-)

caribou
May. 11, 2008, 03:16 PM
Thanks gothedistance - looks like something I should definitely try. I had to laugh when you made mention of fat ponies toting little children around, because he really does look a lot like a giant fat pony.

As for putting on the grazing muzzle, it was my barn owner and not me who did that. She has now learned her lesson and will not be trying it again, I'm sure.

Appreciate the advice!

blackstallion
May. 11, 2008, 03:49 PM
Can you explain how the anti - grazing rein attaches? Where the parts go? I've been looking for something like this for my horse. Since the drought, riding around the field has become a real pain in the back!
Thanks!

Bank of Dad
May. 11, 2008, 06:25 PM
The anti-grazing device works great, reminds me of how I used it on my son's shetland pony. I still have the thing, made of nylon, waiting for the grandchildren.

blackstallion
May. 11, 2008, 07:11 PM
Thanks!! I'm going to try to "make" one and if that doesn't work, I'll be ordering. My 4 year old is a great kid (even kid safe) but not fun to hack out for this reason.
Kim

matryoshka
May. 11, 2008, 08:08 PM
You can pick up the nylon ones pretty cheaply. I have one somewhere, but it was too large for the pony, so I had to do some creative shortening. The kids ride well enough now that they don't need it. There is nothing like a pony for teaching kids to ride--once they get good at handling those ornery ponies, they can handle just about any horse.

For the draft types that snactch, ay-ya-ay! Grazing reins will make life soooo much easier! Until you get the grazing reins made/purchased, be sure to sit back and keep your elbows to your sides. That way when they pull, they'll pull you deeper into the saddle and not pull your torso forward. You can get good at it if you are prepared. I don't yank back as a reprimand but just stay firm so that they can't get any rein when they do it. Most give up eventually, but there are those determined few who sense a moment of rider inattention and dive for the grass!

Gestalt
May. 11, 2008, 08:11 PM
I have a horse that even after eating used to snatch at grass when I was riding. What worked for me is not jerking his head, but kicking him into the next gear. When he makes a move (and that means as little as twitching an ear) we trot or halfpass, circle or something! He has learned quicker from work than punishment. (and he is persistent and strong so I didn't want to use an over or side check) You really have to be aware and catch them before they get their head away from you. This guy does not get ridden on the buckle if temptation is near either.

Shadow14
May. 11, 2008, 08:14 PM
Some people actually encourage this sort of thing. You should just call him an endurance horse and others will envy your training.
I strongly believe is spurs, they are a tool to me, a usefull tool. I would hank his head up , speak sharply to him and jab him good with the spurs, disciplining him. I once had a horse that liked to grab corn as we rode through tall stocks. I had a riding crop and I swung it right into the corn and it came out of the corn and hit her across the snoot a good one. She never tried that again.
I would discipline him for dropping his head and trying to eat.
Or call him an endurance horse:lol:

katarine
May. 11, 2008, 08:42 PM
Hit the gas peddle, hard. Don't snatch him in the mouth when he squirts out of there after you spur/whack/smack him...in order:

horse dives to eat
instantly grab mane/pommel/Bible, whatever
HIT THE GAS PEDAL
horse shoots forward
regroup
repeat til trained.

I don't ride where grazing reins or sidechecks would be safe and only in the case of little kids w/o skills/strength, it's a bandaid, not training...

Hit the gas and teach that cow to be a horse instead.

matryoshka
May. 11, 2008, 08:46 PM
Shadow, please stop trying to start trouble. You must have missed all the explanations of why some of us allow our distance horses to eat on the trail. This isn't nuissance eating as the OP describes. Because we make different choices than you does not make us bad riders, and it doesn't make you a good one.

I do not allow all my trail horses to eat on the trail--just my distance horse (the one in my profile) when we are riding for mileage rather than pleasure. Ponies, hubby's WB, pleasure trail horses all have to mind their manners, which includes not snatching grass. For this I sit deep, keep my elbows back and if they pull, they pull against my hip rather than yanking my arm. They usually give up after a few tries, so there is no need to fight with them. I don't give them anything to fight against but rather provide a firm "no" that is released as soon as they stop pulling.

Spurs should only be used by riders with good enough skills not to accidentally touch the horse with them. If you cannot control when the spur hits, then don't try them. So far, I haven't ever needed spurs. But each rider chooses the method he/she feels comfortable with, and sometimes it takes trial an error to find what works best for a given horse.

Auventera Two
May. 11, 2008, 08:47 PM
My endurance horse eats on trail and I DEFINITELY encourage it. Empty stomachs are when ulcers start, and I'm hoping to one day have a 100 mile horse so I definitely want her to know how to eat on trail.

But since this does not apply to you, I would tend to agree with Katarine. I've seen a lady use this method and it worked great. Horse quickly learned he had to work his bunns off when he made a dive for grass. Also I agree with her that the check reins seem like a bandaid and not a real training endeavor. If I didn't want my horse to eat, I would definitely try this method.

And Norval (Shadow14), I agree with matryosha. You've done nothing but fight since you came on this forum. Sheesh. I've tried to place nicey and tried to stand up for you but enough is enough already. :no:

carp
May. 11, 2008, 10:36 PM
My reins happen to be the length that they will catch my gelding about 15 inches off the ground if I leave them looped around the saddle horn. I do a lot of bending exercises with him, so he's highly attuned to my rein length and my arm position. When he's being a real pain I'll set him up by riding on a slack rein with the end hooked over my horn. He'll glance up slyly out of the corner of his eye, think I'm not paying attention, and dive. He gets quite a surprise when he hits his mouth on the bit and I haven't moved at all.

Sithly
May. 11, 2008, 11:04 PM
That sounds like a PITA, but I think you've been given some good suggestions to deal with it. Your giant pony needs a trip to boot camp. :D

Looping the rein over the saddle horn has worked well for me in the past, but I don't think it would work as well for a persistent, confirmed snacker. For those, I'm a fan of the whack-and-scoot method. When the head goes down, you whack as hard as you can, then work the heck out of them. It's better to give one GOOD whack than 10 wimpy little taps.

If you're concerned about ulcers or whatever on an endurance ride, simply develop a cue for grazing. Setting boundaries around the grazing gives you the best of both worlds.

I taught my horse that he's allowed to graze only when I give him the rein signal. He knows that he is not allowed to root or try to graze until he is given the cue -- if he tries before I say so, it's whack-and-scoot. He also knows that when I cue him to stop eating, he'd better listen in a hurry -- or else it's whack-and-scoot.

We use the same system (different cue) for hand-grazing, too. I can lead him around the lawn all day, stop to talk to friends if I want, and he will stand still and mind his manners until I give him the cue to graze. Even then he's not allowed to pull on the rope.

It actually didn't take long to teach. You have to be vigilant at first, and make sure the punishment is strong enough to make their eyes pop, but once they realize you mean business, you will have a much better relationship in general. The authority tends to leak into (and improve) other aspects of your horse-handling.

matryoshka
May. 11, 2008, 11:07 PM
If you're concerned about ulcers or whatever on an endurance ride, simply develop a cue for grazing. Setting boundaries around the grazing gives you the best of both worlds.This is what I have done, too. I use a voice command for both hand grazing and allowign him to snack on the trail.

Jess!
May. 11, 2008, 11:26 PM
There is a big difference in training your horse to reach out and eat while riding, and a horse that literally will YANK you from the saddle because they want to eat and they want to eat NOW.

The latter is just bad behavior, or bad training. Sometimes the horse is just too strong for the rider, and can pull their head down no matter what. That is where check reins, or anti grazing devices, can come into play.

My horses are endurance horses, but you can bet they are not like that. They know when they can reach while trotting or cantering along, and if they cannot reach the grass - they don't try.

Shadow - you don't know half of what you think you know, and the half you do know? Well, personally I take anything you say with a grain of salt. A rather large one. You are doing nothing but trying to stir up trouble around here.

You are not god's gift to horses and horseback riders. Stop acting like it, please.

Sithly
May. 11, 2008, 11:41 PM
I actually appreciate Shadow's viewpoint. I find it makes a nice contrast to some of the Precious Poopsie types, generally.

Jess!
May. 11, 2008, 11:47 PM
I actually appreciate Shadow's viewpoint. I find it makes a nice contrast to some of the Precious Poopsie types, generally.

I can appreciate it most of the time, but when someone is purposely coming into a thread and taking jabs at other people and the way they do things, bringing stuff into a thread from another thread, etc - that's when it gets just silly IMO.

Sithly
May. 11, 2008, 11:59 PM
I can appreciate it most of the time, but when someone is purposely coming into a thread and taking jabs at other people and the way they do things, bringing stuff into a thread from another thread, etc - that's when it gets just silly IMO.

I agree. That's out of line.

sublimequine
May. 12, 2008, 01:03 AM
There is a big difference in training your horse to reach out and eat while riding, and a horse that literally will YANK you from the saddle because they want to eat and they want to eat NOW.

The latter is just bad behavior, or bad training. Sometimes the horse is just too strong for the rider, and can pull their head down no matter what. That is where check reins, or anti grazing devices, can come into play.

My horses are endurance horses, but you can bet they are not like that. They know when they can reach while trotting or cantering along, and if they cannot reach the grass - they don't try.

Shadow - you don't know half of what you think you know, and the half you do know? Well, personally I take anything you say with a grain of salt. A rather large one. You are doing nothing but trying to stir up trouble around here.

You are not god's gift to horses and horseback riders. Stop acting like it, please.

Well said.

blackstallion
May. 12, 2008, 06:20 AM
...We use the same system (different cue) for hand-grazing, too. I can lead him around the lawn all day, stop to talk to friends if I want, and he will stand still and mind his manners until I give him the cue to graze. Even then he's not allowed to pull on the rope.

My 4 year old gelding has learned this well on the ground (lots of hand grazing after the draught hit), and is sensitive to bumping the rope halter when I don't want him to graze, but it has not transferred to saddle/bridle. He has always been very heavy in the bridle and if the check rein can keep him from yanking on my back, for now, that is worth it to me.

Auventera Two
May. 12, 2008, 09:16 AM
Jess, that's how my horse is too...she knows when she can reach grass or leaves and when she can't. She doesn't snatch me out of the saddle to grab. She just grabs as she trots or walks along, if I give her the rein to do so. If I give her the reins (I ride with long ones), then she isn't pulling me onto her neck and I don't lose my balance and neither does she. This is something she learned while ponying from my other horse. She watched the other mare and grabbed a mouthful when the other mare did. I gave her rope and let her. When I picked up the rope again, she'd have to get back in line at my knee and go on.

Horses are smart and you can train them to eat on cue just like you can train them to do anything else.

Rt66Kix
May. 12, 2008, 10:22 AM
I allow my horses to graze whist riding, but ONLY when I say they can. My aid is to put the reins forward, and push on their manes just ahead of the saddle, and say, "OK!" They quickly learned this, and are very well-behaved.

Since I have 3 to keep exercised, and my husband rarely rides, I end up ponying a lot. Even the horse being ponied has learned to wait until I say "OK" to start eating.

I started foxhunting last fall, and my field hunter Buddy is allowed to graze at checks. This is very important to me, since we can be out for hours. Buddy also has arthritis in his neck, and letting him "down" is beneficial. The other hunters are amazed at how well-behaved he is, and said their horses would try to snatch grass at a gallop. I think this is more a sign that they aren't able to read their horse's body language, because you can tell when they are going to dive.

Your body position can determine if you are going to get yanked forward. If you ride with a hollow in your lower back, you are going to be pulled forward if they dive. I tuck my belly button into my spine if I feel their head going forward, and that sets my body into a strong position. It's rare that they get me out of the saddle now, and even when I rode my full Belgian draft, he couldn't dislodge me. And I ride all my horses bitless.

Last year I went on a riding vacation, and rode a horse that was allowed to stop and snatch at will. It was extremely frustrating, and the first day my lower back was SO sore from countering him. The second day he figured it out, and we rarely had any issues. However, if I took my attention off of him for a split second, he dove and got away with it.

It's taught me to really be aware of where my horse's attention is! Good luck.

matryoshka
May. 12, 2008, 12:11 PM
I don't see many "sweet poopsie" types posting to this section of the forum. Most of us here are out there riding our horses, not just thinking about riding. We're generally good natured people who prefer to discuss trail riding and training techniques rather than engage in idle arguments.

If you like idle arguments, there's a new Parelli thread, and don't miss Eruss's posts on the hoof threads. :no:

OP, let us know how it goes with your horse. Most of us have had to deal with this at one time or another, so you're going to get lots of advice to choose from. That way you can find what works for your way of riding and your horse.

Blackstallion, if your horse has learned it on the ground than there is hope for him on the trail. I'm not fond of the "kicking them into the next gear" method, but that is because I've been riding OTTB's lately. You might use a combination of things until your horse respects you more in the saddle. It does seem to be hard for hungry horses to pass up all of that lush foliage, especially if their pasture isn't plush.

My poor boy lives in an overgrazed field because he has to live with ponies who cannot be allowed access to lush pasture. On the one hand, he loves to chase them around. On the other, he doesn't get free-choice anything and has to content himself with eating more when I have them all separated. You can bet he wants to graze when on the trail. Luckily, he's sensitive enough that a firm hand that doesn't allow him to put his nose to the ground is sufficient deterrent. A couple of "no's" and he stops asking. The more persistant and rude the horse, the stronger the deterrent, and perhaps punishment, needs to be.

matryoshka
May. 12, 2008, 12:45 PM
Great post GTD! It bears rereading, but rather than quoting it, I'll just say, read the above post (by gothedistance) again!

Sithly
May. 12, 2008, 03:00 PM
The problem with the check rein is that a smart horse will very quickly figure out when it's off. If you plan on riding with it indefinitely, it's not a problem at all. Otherwise, looping the reins over the horn accomplishes the same thing and is not as obvious to the horse. [ETA] Also, some horses will lay on the check rein.

The problem with the whack-and-scoot method is that you have to be prepared to ride through the scoot. If you are not certain you can ride through whatever your horse offers, you shouldn't do it. And I hope no one would be foolish enough to scoot their horse off a cliff! :lol: But maybe there needs to be a disclaimer for that, too. "If the cliff is on your left, don't whack your horse on the right." :lol:

matryoshka
May. 12, 2008, 03:13 PM
I cut the horn off my saddle. :D Couldn't stand the thing!!

Sithly
May. 12, 2008, 03:22 PM
I cut the horn off my saddle. :D Couldn't stand the thing!!

Hehe. I started out riding english as a kid, but now I love my western saddle for trails. Though I'm always a little bit scared that I'll get a horn to the gut some day. :eek: It happened to my friend -- her horse jumped over a log and the horn nailed her right in the solar plexus. She could do nothing but gasp like a fish for several minutes.

*shudder* Ouch.

Sithly
May. 12, 2008, 03:36 PM
I have rarely ever found a horse that "lays" on the side check, or the check rein. But if that happens, there are generally one of two issues going on: (1) the side rein is too tight (which is easily remedied), or (2) the horse is completely evading/ignoring the rider's hands and trying to "bully" the rider (or in this case the side rein) into releasing. For the latter -- you take the horse back into the ring with a dressage whip in hand, and legs on, and teach the horse to carry itself appropriately at all gaits, and not try to "bully" the rider by burdening the bit. It might take a few lessons in the ring, but the horse will get the picture pretty quickly of what isn't going to be tolerated. ;)

Totally agree with this! Bullying and leaning are the problems she was describing in the first place (compounded by the grass issue). This advice is not much different from the other advice she's gotten for fixing the problem on the trail.

katarine
May. 12, 2008, 04:10 PM
The other advice for fixing the problem was to kick and hit and spur the horse while out on the trail and also to do so while the horse was ignoring her attempts to correct him with the reins. Sadly, a situation that leads to more problems that just escalate the issue.

from my perspective, you read it all wrong.

I specifically said: get off his face and out of his mouth and get on his ass, literally, about this disrespectful behavior. You're assuming the horse is diving for grass only...I'm assuming he's a PITA on narrow trails with tempting leaves etc at mouth-height as he's walking along. No check rein is going to stop the quick dive and bite to the side. He's dragging peeps around on the ground, too- Knock it Off is my solution and for me, it works. I'm also assuming she's horseman enough to ride through his big goofy woosh- he's not an OTTB- he's a big galloot taking advantage with his strength. that brutish behavior has a price- it's working hard, wooshing forward, trotting his fanny OUT and Now, now whoa and walk on.

I have a big goofy cold-blooded acting SSH filly that's also TOO food motivated. But she's learning to respect my quick harsh HEY that's coupled with a big fat BOOT in the sides to Knock it Off. She wooshes forward a sec, looks pissy, slows down, and goes on...she's learning. she'll get to where it's just the bark or even a little growl, or a bump of my calves to remind her UH UH Knock It Off.

Different roads to Rome but I don't see where this 'Sadly, escalates' anything except the horsie learning to keep his trap shut.

Sithly
May. 12, 2008, 04:34 PM
The other advice for fixing the problem was to kick and hit and spur the horse while out on the trail and also to do so while the horse was ignoring her attempts to correct him with the reins. Sadly, a situation that leads to more problems that just escalate the issue.

Sorry, I just can't get onboard with this. A few swift, well-timed corrections are preferable to spending an entire season in check reins or a grazing muzzle, hoping the problem will solve itself.

Granted, the check rein will probably give her enough help to solve the problem eventually, as long as she's committed to work on the horsemanship issues that lead to this point. The check rein is not a solution on its own -- it's a band aid. And believe me, I'm not speaking idly. I used to work for a place that did trail rides, and I've seen every form of check rein evasion there is. :lol:

Anyway, maybe the best solution for the OP is to combine several approaches. She could use the check rein temporarily, while working on sharpening up her horse's responses and general obedience on the trail (which will address the underlying issues). Not discounting ring work, but if you want your horse to pay attention on the trail, you have to practice on the trail.

[ETA -- Posted at the same time as Katarine, and I think she said it well.]

katarine
May. 12, 2008, 05:13 PM
Welp, if you fail to plan you plan to fail...so, the intelligent OP should take him to tempting places that are also safe training places. If she's as smart as you think she is, she'll know when to survive vs train, right? You seem to assume she's dumb enough to boot him in a dumb place. I assume she's smarter than that. Don't you?

lots of assuming all 'round :lol: good luck OP :)

katarine
May. 12, 2008, 06:13 PM
if she's going to TRAIN him with my method then yes she better be smart about where she does the training.

If she's going to use your method, she can't ride on narrow, tempting, leafy trails b/c the checkrein won't bonk him unless it's so snug he dare not trip. She also can't ride in tall grass. I was riding through stirrup deep grass this weekend. She can't go there and rely on the grazing rein/check rein. She'll have to go somewhere else.

Uh oh, then... either way..she better PLAN where she's going to be training on him or it won't work. I think we can agree on that. Or not.

katarine
May. 12, 2008, 06:21 PM
LOL those lips of their's grab the leaves first, no?

caribou
May. 12, 2008, 08:05 PM
Wow - I am so impressed with the outpouring of ideas and support offered by you all ... and it sure is nice to hear that some of you at least have assumed that I'm intelligent. Sometimes I do wonder about that myself - LOL

Anyway, here is a bit more information that may help clarify a few things as to what options are realistic for me. First of all, I am a event rider who uses the trails for basic conditioning (and with a horse of his breeding/constitution it's critical that I spend lots of time doing that), so unfortunately I don't have a horn on my English saddle to take advantage of. And also unfortunately, almost all the trails available to me are narrow and winding with lots of hills. Those who are arguing against the boot and scoot method are right about the fact that while this could work for us, in principle at least, there are also many ways for it to get us into trouble. (I already have about five separate bruises on my left knee right now from getting knocked into trees just because he is such a wide load compared to the Morgan owner who cut our trails. But I digress ...)

As for overall which approach to take - equipment-based, action or training-based, I am thinking at this point it's going to take a combination of things. While I certainly don't want to abuse my horse, he IS being very rude and I think that he does need disciplining. I just have to figure out how to do that in a way that will get his attention without being repetitive to the point that he becomes insensitive to it. Perhaps it's time to go back to the ring and sharpen him up to the aids in general - that certainly couldn't hurt, as we haven't been doing much ring work lately. That way when I do have the opportunity and a safe place to bump him forward he'll be better prepared to move off my leg instantly. And while I know that even if I do put a check rein on him he'll be able to grab the leaves that are at nose level with his big fat lips, I don't mind riding with some extra equipment if it cuts down on the behavior and thereby makes us safer. I have always liked the look of a figure 8 so maybe this can be my excuse to get one. And of course once he gets fitter I can start trotting him past more of the yummy stuff - so far at least he hasn't tried to eat while he's doing that!

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions and I'll let you know how it goes. (And for those of you wondering why in the world I'd have such a beast, when he's not busy trying to eat he can be a really good little dressage horse and he loves to run and jump. He's just better adapted to fields than trails. I guess :-)

pintopiaffe
May. 12, 2008, 09:18 PM
instantly grab mane/pommel/Bible, whatever

:lol: :lol: :lol: