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View Full Version : Riding one horse with one loose -settle this argument



Chall
Apr. 13, 2011, 09:37 PM
OK, I posted about ponying a horse (on a lead) who is unsound for riding and is bound to his "brother".
And my family member said "you don't need to have him on a lead, he can just follow you loose".
Well, yes, the one horse can truly not be out of sight or more than 15 feet from the other horse. They have been together for 18 years and the one has to be drugged if the other is taken away (to the hospital for example).

But my family member will not believe me when I say how dangerous this is and said "post in on your bulletin board and tell them how they can't be separated and that's why its okay to have one loose and see what people say".

My arguments hold no weight, so anyone want to post their opinion so I can print this thread out and show it to her?
Thanks in advance!

cutter99
Apr. 13, 2011, 09:47 PM
I had a neighbor who used to do this around the neighborhood. Talk about nuts! No control over the loose horse whatsoever. I came across her doing this one day while on a mare who liked to take shots on a whim at any horse she came across. The loose horse came running right up to us and I thought my mare would kill her. When I tried to explain why this was not a great idea, it went right over her head.

I'm not even fond of the idea of riding in a pasture or ring with a loose horse or horses. I don't feel it is safe for either of the horses or the rider. Too many things can go wrong! Ponying is great if you have the right horse to pony from!

Lieselotte
Apr. 13, 2011, 09:52 PM
Just take a look at this fairly recent thread:
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=290814

Be forewarned, some of it is not pretty...

Painted Horse
Apr. 13, 2011, 10:07 PM
Right or wrong I do it all the time. The right answer is that it's a risk. Depending on what risk you are willing to take, It might be something you should never do. But I love to see a free horse running as we ride. Their emotions just seem to hit a high as they realize they are totally free and can enjoy the outing.

I start my young horses by letting them tag along on trail rides as yearling. Unless we encounter other horses, I let them just run loose. If I see approaching riders, a barbwire fence or some other hazard, I'll collect them and put them on a lead.

As they get older, I'll start putting packs on them and let them carry a light pack where they can feel it flopping against their side and feel the cinch and saddle parts working. By time I'm ready to start actually riding them. They are very comfortable with most trail obsticles, bridges, water crossing etc.

The biggest problem with loose horses is pecking order. If you have a horse that may want to insert himself into the line up in a different order, kicking and other agressive behavior may happen as the horses defend their position in the line. This can especially be a problem if you are encountering other strange horse along the trail. I always keep a lead on in areas where I have a high probability of encountering other horses. Same problem goes for hikers. My horses will run right up to stranger and beg for a treat or to be petted. This could possibly really scare a hiker who is not familar with horses. A loose horse can easily bump a hiker loaded with a big pack off the edge of trail.

I can't tell you how many miles I've ridden with a loose pack horse just following. Usually in the middle of the group, one rider behind to make sure nothing falls off and they pack horse doesn't get distracted and somebody leading. I would never allow multiple pack horses to be loose at the same time. I don't need to see my gear getting squished as they both try to squeeze between a couple of trees at the same time.

You can see two yearlings following our group in this photo
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/Rimrock.gif

Here is my mare being used as a pack horse following us through a large boulder field
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/SANY0038.jpg

Chall
Apr. 13, 2011, 10:12 PM
PaintedHorse, we are on the east coast in the suburbs, riding in nature preserves. I whole-heartedly agree with a loose horse on the open plains (where you see the horizon and nothing else), that is not our terrain.
P.S. That's gorgeous territory and looks like such fun!

Bells
Apr. 13, 2011, 10:22 PM
I say it depends - depends mostly on where you are and what is around you. It can be risky. I do it in certain places and w/certain horses/mules but I always have a halter on the horse and a lead available.

gothedistance
Apr. 13, 2011, 11:46 PM
PaintedHorse, we are on the east coast in the suburbs, riding in nature preserves. I whole-heartedly agree with a loose horse on the open plains (where you see the horizon and nothing else), that is not our terrain.


And that right there answers your question. There are too many variables in this locale where a loose horse could be a clear danger on too many levels - to people and other animals - by letting it go off-lead.

Is this preserve public lands, or privately held?

Beverley
Apr. 14, 2011, 12:19 AM
Absolutely and completely unacceptable to me. Unless you are on private property with landowner permission.

I have had loose horses come very close to causing wrecks when packing. Stupid owners in one case said 'oh, he'll be fine.' Well, no, not when he comes between me on a young horse and my pack horse.

I have had loose horses wander over to my trailer at trailheads with much the same observations from the owner. Well, no, not only do I not want the wreck, I don't want your horse saying 'hello' to mine when I have absolutely no idea whether your horse is current on vaccinations, negative for Coggins, been nowhere near a strangles outbreak, and so forth.

So for me, the answer is h*ll no.

betsyk
Apr. 14, 2011, 10:31 AM
Crazy former boarder used to do that. She thought it was pretty to see the loose horse running alongside the ridden horse. We, the others on the trail, did not appreciate the loose horse running up to our horses and just generally ignoring the owner and going wherever it wanted.

Chall
Apr. 14, 2011, 03:28 PM
Is this preserve public lands, or privately held?
Both. Private property and public lands.

Kyzteke
Apr. 14, 2011, 03:37 PM
It's only safe if the surroundings are safe.

Mel Hare, who has one of Kinor's babies, routinely lets said baby (now almost 3 yrs old) run loose while he rides his mustang. He's been doing this since the colt was a yearling.

But Mel is riding in the deserts of Utah -- no roads, no cars, no people (and if they DO meet people,there is plenty of room for everybody to get out of each other's way). Never had a problem.

Unfortunately, places like this are rare and hard to find.

If there is a road anywhere nearby, or if people, bikes, ATVs, hikers, etc. share the space, then I agree...it's stupid to let the horse go free.

Tell your advisors that most horse people realize that ALL horses are on a suicide misson almost from Day One, so it's best to be hyper-careful whenever you can.

katarine
Apr. 14, 2011, 03:55 PM
We did it with our donkey when he was a weanling and the 300+ acres of land behind us was still heavily forested. He was so glued to the QHs he may as well have had a line on. That was private land, no chance we'd see other riders or people, none of the trails came remotely close to a road, and the few times the horses startled at something, it just sucked Chico in closer. Safe as 'could' be. Ride out from our house and back to the house. But we quit about a year later, when the invisi-tether got longer ;) on a ride or two and it was obvious he was establishing some independence.

We don't like loose pack horses b/c one will invariably stop and munch some greenery then hurriedly catch up, potentially trying to insert him/herself inbetween two tethered horses. Or running up rudely on your saddle horse. BTDT secured loose horse.

So, no: unless the deal sounds a lot like the desert deal above or my deal, no.

PRS
Apr. 14, 2011, 04:23 PM
My answer is that it is totally unacceptible unless you are confined within private property with property owner's permission It's still a really bad idea to be on one horse with a loose horse nearby but how bad will depend on your herd dynamic. Once you cross from enclosed private property to public property the horse should never be loose to wander wherever it wants. There are just too many bad things that can happen. I would be really pissed to find a loose horse approaching me on my horse on any trail, you just don't have enough control of the loose horse to guarantee my safety and that of my horse.

Calena
Apr. 14, 2011, 05:47 PM
While I agree that there are circumstances and situations where this can work, around here it would be a big no. I'm not out west with miles between me and others. Where I ride, loose dogs aren't allowed and I don't appreciate the ones I occasionally run across. A loose horse? No way! Not enough space to avoid disaster if the unexpected happened. Plenty of people ponying horses on leads and everyone does their best to be considerate if we spot a loose foal following mama. We have a very busy trail system and we enjoy it by keeping safety and consideration of others the number 1 rule of thumb.

ponygrl25
Apr. 14, 2011, 06:07 PM
The only time I ever even considered turning one loose, was when I had 2 TB mares who had been together for all 16 years of their lives. They had serious fits when out of each others sight. Only one was able to be ridden for any period of time, but it was still important that they both were exercised. During the year or so I owned them, I would pony the one mare to their big field and once securely inside with a latched gate, I would let her go. She would stay right with us even if their herd came up. Now mind, the field had to be a good 30 acres and we could ride in it for hours, but it was fenced and secure. A few times I even let her loose in the ring while I worked the other mare and never had any issues. I was always alone and wouldn't have let her loose in company.
My other experience with a loose horse following is not so good. I was riding with a friend who would let her yearling filly loose to follow. The filly was a QH who was already about the same height as my trail pony. She would try to chase us away from my friends horse, and she would randomly buck and kick in our direction. We tried to stay a good distance away, but the filly was very unpredictable and you never knew where she would go next. After she almost kicked me in the leg, I decided I just couldn't ride with them anymore if the filly was going to be loose. It was not safe.

At this point in my life, I wouldn't turn any of my horses loose outside of an enclosed area while I'm riding. However, I ride in a fairly populated area and am not lucky enough to have the time to train my horses to a point that I could depend on them to listen off lead. I also only rarely pony anything right now and it's not at the top of my priority list. That said, when in doubt, keep it on the lead.....

brightskyfarm
Apr. 14, 2011, 11:10 PM
It is not safe -- If you want to see horses running loose, then watch from the pasture fence. Even then, things happen and horses get hurt.

Horses safety depends on their owner. Turning a horse loose isnt applying any common sense, period.

My entire day is spent watching over the safety of horses, the safety of other grooms on the shedrow, on the track, the riders; as does everyone else on the backside-- and even with *all these eyes* -- things still go terribly wrong.

Just dont.

TalkTeke
Apr. 15, 2011, 12:37 AM
I gotta say, I'd be awful pissed if I came across you and your loose horse on public trails. Too many things can go wrong. You have no way of controlling that horse. Just because you've been doing it since before they were weaned, doesn't mean it will always go perfectly... Hello? They're horses!!! And I don't want to chance getting hurt because someone wants to watch the pretty pony run.

I think it is very inconsiderate and dangerous to other riders. Even if nothing has happened yet on your rides, my luck, it would happen with me.

Riding is already unsafe. I try and manage the risks I take, but it's hard to when others are risking my neck for me.

On private property. Go ahead, break your own neck.

What you wanted to hear, OP?

gothedistance
Apr. 15, 2011, 07:51 AM
The OP is not the one you want to yell at. IF you read her first post, she's trying to show her ignorant relative that having a loose horse along for a trail ride on suburban lands both public and private is a stupid, dangerous idea. We're trying to help her convince the idiot relative that purposely allowing a horse to run free outside the confines of a pasture is both irresponsible and possibly hazardous to other people/property. There are liability issues for any private landowner who would allow a rider with a loose horse to be on their property. There are government laws/regulations regarding public property against public nuisance or reckless endangerment of others by allowing an unrestrained large animal run free among the public.

Either way, the OP is collecting some good ammunition to prove her case that allowing a loose horse to accompany her on the trail is a BAD idea given both her situation and locale.

coloredcowhorse
Apr. 15, 2011, 09:39 AM
Not safe. That said, I have ridden mares with still nursing foals alongside and not on a halter/lead....but it was done in either my own fields or in an area that was thousands of acres of Forest Service or BLM land and during a time of week/day when it was unlikely to meet anyone else (lived at the base of Mt Adams in southern part of Washington state, worked at night and rode mid day and there were about 800 people, maybe, within 20 miles of my location....chances of meeting any were slim). Would not do with adult horses unless on my own enclosed property and even then it is asking for injury.

WildBlue
Apr. 15, 2011, 09:49 AM
Absolutely and completely unacceptable to me. Unless you are on private property with landowner permission.


Agree 100%. And I, personally, don't want to ride with a loose horse. (Though I pony often.)

I've seen loose horses run off, go under the necks of tied horses, attack or try to 'play' with horses being ridden (so awesome to have hooves flying by your head!), buck and kick when the ridden horse canters, cut sharply in front of ridden horses--especially at speed, and just generally be a thorough pain in the arse.

My "heck no!" is slightly less vehement if the person doing it won't encounter other horses (such as on their own property) and takes the time to actually train the loose horse. But, "good behavior" in a loose horse seems to be a lot like peoples' opinion of whether their loose dog is well-behaved. In most of the cases I've encountered, the owner is perfectly fine with behavior (and risk) that is not the least amusing to the stranger encountered on the trail.

katyb
Apr. 15, 2011, 01:13 PM
I'll turn one loose in a large fenced area (right now, 30 acres and previously up to 300) while I ride. I wouldn't do it on a public trail, not because I think it would go badly, but because it's not fair for me to make that choice for anyone else who might be using the trails.

pj
Apr. 15, 2011, 01:31 PM
People do a lot of stupid things and this is one of them.

If you are riding on your own securely fenced property go for it if that's what you want to do but don't do it on other's property or public land. I would personally be really poed if you came up on me on the trail with a loose horse.

Once a friend said when we rode she'd like to bring her yearling and let him run loose with us. Told her not with me she wasn't. Dummy.

wendy
Apr. 15, 2011, 02:05 PM
Right or wrong I do it all the time. The right answer is that it's a risk. Depending on what risk you are willing to take,

fine but if you're riding on public land you're forcing risk onto other people.

Chall
Apr. 15, 2011, 02:56 PM
Thank you all so much.
My relative knows I am the over-worrier type, so I think her reaction to that in me is a factor. Usually when we try something I say is a "bad idea" we get about two seconds into it, and she says "OK, you're right, bad idea". In this case I don't want to get two seconds into loose because who knows how long it takes to get him back under lead. I don't even like walking into a herd without a dressage whip because I think that's pretty dangerous. Horses fooling around in horse language (bite, kick, ram or gallop into) is fine for horses but not for the human caught between the horses.
Thanks for pointing out the consideration of others as a factor. I think that will be a better selling point (to her) then the car/bike/human collision scenarios I conjured up.

Painted Horse
Apr. 15, 2011, 08:51 PM
You folks just don't grasp the openess of western states. I often ride in places where I won't see another individual outside my group all day.

I did say that if there was a possibility of meeting other riders or hikers that I collect my horses and put them on a lead. You will never run into one of my horses loose as you ride.

In all the years of letting a horse run loose, I've never had one hurt another horse or hurt a rider. I can't say that for other horses that were under saddle and supposedly controlled by their riders. As I said there are risk in everything we do, You access the risk and if you can control, then you might decide it's anceptable risk to take. If you can't control it. Don't do it. If the original poster rides in the east on heavily used trails, then it's not appropriate.

Where I ride, I will see you coming a mile away.
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/Sheep%20Hunt/Sinbad.jpg

Bells
Apr. 16, 2011, 01:08 AM
As some one who grew up in the east and who now has lived in the west for over 1/2 my life, I have to agree w/Painted Horse - the risk is pretty low in a lot of places out here. As in I'd be more likely to be bitten by a rattlesnake than have a loose horse cause a problem (although people don't believe it it is very rare to get bitten). Not that I let all of my horses go as some I don't trust to stick close.

On Par
Apr. 16, 2011, 01:52 AM
I know this wasn't what you were asking, but I have a problem with horses that are so herd-bound that you can't separate them. :/

As for your specific questions, I would give a resounding "No." It sounds like your horse wouldn't cause too many problems, because she's not just 'tagging along,' she's there because she doesn't dare leave her buddy. However, as someone else mentioned, horses seem to have suicide wishes, and a loose, uncontrollable horse does NOT sound like a good way to have a safe, enjoyable ride. ESPECIALLY not if that horse is going to be running around loose and free and wild. Foals with their mothers are, I suppose, an entirely different matter.

If you are on private, safe land, I suppose it would be ok, but I personally wouldn't want to take part in it. I have ridden in fields with other loose horses, even as many as 30 loose horses, but I had a leadrope to twirl at them and make them back off, and I knew every single one of those 30 horses (ok, except for one or two), and I knew EXACTLY what I was getting into when I rode into the same field as the herd.

witherbee
Apr. 16, 2011, 04:44 AM
My issue with it isn't so much the open land, it's the control factor. When ponying, you can pull the horse's head towards you and not get kicked. If the horse is loose and tears off and gives an exhuberant kick, you can get hurt or the horse you are on can get hurt or spooked. The loose horse can also come tearing by you and cause the same issues by throwing a kick or startling your horse. Yes, these things can happen when riding in a group too, but at least in that case most people can control thier horses.

Beverley
Apr. 16, 2011, 06:42 AM
You folks just don't grasp the openess of western states. I often ride in places where I won't see another individual outside my group all day.



Actually, I do since I ride in your neighborhood.:)

To be sure, there are spots out in the desert where what you say is true. And sure, in such places you can see folks coming and get leads on in plenty of time. On the other hand, I've encountered loose horses in Dimple Dell, Corner Canyon, and up at Bench Creek. With owners denying requests to put their horses on leads. Totally unacceptable. Not to mention illegal- just like dogs running loose.

katyb
Apr. 16, 2011, 10:02 AM
My issue with it isn't so much the open land, it's the control factor. When ponying, you can pull the horse's head towards you and not get kicked. If the horse is loose and tears off and gives an exhuberant kick, you can get hurt or the horse you are on can get hurt or spooked. The loose horse can also come tearing by you and cause the same issues by throwing a kick or startling your horse. Yes, these things can happen when riding in a group too, but at least in that case most people can control thier horses.

You obviously need to be able to control the horse you are riding. My son, eight at the time, rode his pony with our younger mare loose on a regular basis (with me on my mare as well). The horses being ridden were use to the youngster's antics, and the youngster knew to stay out of our space with her antics. It was a non-issue. It might not be a great idea on a green or spooky horse, but that doesn't mean it is a problem with most good horses.

Chall
Apr. 16, 2011, 10:35 AM
I know this wasn't what you were asking, but I have a problem with horses that are so herd-bound that you can't separate them. :/
.
When both were rideable, yeah the first thing the stable did was separate them. I agree with you but they are now both older gentlemen retired for 16 years together (the one I used to ride in an arena 10 feet away the other), have been living in each other's pockets for 16 years, grabbing the remote, eating the last bite of the others creme donut, arguing and flipping their nose under the other's tails (!). Don't mess with the seniors - they older and more cunning and they've got my number down pat.:lol:

Painted Horse
Apr. 16, 2011, 10:44 AM
" On the other hand, I've encountered loose horses in Dimple Dell, Corner Canyon, and up at Bench Creek. "

Bev, as I mentioned, "if there is the possibility of running into other horses or hikers" I put a lead on my horses. Dimple Dell, Bonneville shore line trail, Antelope island are all high use trails. I would never have a loose horse on those or similair trails.

Just like most things in life, There are idiots out there who don't know when something is or is not appropriate. Their stupid actions Dimple Dell doesn't mean that action is wrong at all times in all places.

CosMonster
Apr. 16, 2011, 11:10 AM
I'm with Painted Horse. It is so common out here that it doesn't even make me raise an eyebrow. We're very open and don't really have proper trails so the few times I have "run into" people with loose horses it's usually a couple of miles away and we avoid each other or they catch them. It's really only been 2-3 times that I've even come across that, even though I know many of my friends do it regularly. And I do a ton of trail riding, I'm typically out for a minimum of 2-3 hours a day so it's not like I'm just not out there to see it.

OTOH, I would never ever do it in a situation like yours, OP. That's just asking for trouble. Not to mention you shouldn't do something you're uncomfortable with anyway. So tell your relatives that even those of us who don't have a problem with the idea of it think it is too dangerous in your situation. ;)

Beverley
Apr. 16, 2011, 11:59 AM
Bev, as I mentioned, "if there is the possibility

Whoa, easy there now! I was not being critical of you or anyone else. Simply responding to the OP's question. We both know we have spots where there isn't a soul for miles. But as a practical matter most folks don't have the same luxury. And I do 'in general' feel pretty strongly about it as a result for reasons stated.

As someone else noted, it's more the
'my horse is well behaved' justification (or maybe syndrome), like folks who let their 'well behaved' dogs loose. A friend of mine got dumped a few weeks ago when one of those 'well behaved' dogs attacked his horse. Happily no major injuries to him or his horse.

coloredcowhorse
Apr. 16, 2011, 12:39 PM
Another issue out here in the wild and wooly west, for me, is the nearby location (as in my front yard on occasion) of mustang herds including a bachelor stallion herd. It is hard enough to ride out on a saddled horse under control when these guys are around. Letting a loose horse out too would be asking for major problems...if a mare they will try to run her off into their own herd (if they have one) or to gather her up to MAKE a herd for themselves... and they are not adverse to challenging a stallion if I try to ride one of the boys out. Riding an in-season mare can be a nightmare. Fortunately I can usually spot them far enough away to keep out of range but this isn't always the case and having to fend off a loose, amorous mustang while riding is NOT fun.

Probably not a problem in the eastern 2/3 of the country.

Painted Horse
Apr. 16, 2011, 04:29 PM
Colored, I was going to mention that and it slip my train of thought. I had to help a lady once who's mare got stolen by a mustang and added to his band. She had pulled off the interstate to take a short nap because she got tired and had had gotten her mare out of the trailer to stretch.

Trying to chase down and cut your mare out of band of wild horses is a serious challenge, Not to mention trying to explain to the BLM why you were harassing protected wild mustangs.

Tstarke22
Apr. 16, 2011, 05:21 PM
I would only say go for it if you have the space like PaintedHorse. Otherwise, I agree with the other posters. Too many variables and too many opportunities for disaster. It's great that your two horses have bonded so closely, but I definitely agree that there's nothing wrong with ponying the tag-along. The horses will enjoy the outing just as much because ultimately what they care about is being together.

Foxtrot's
Apr. 17, 2011, 12:39 AM
One of my special memories is taking my mare and her suckling riding for several days on a large ranch. I have an inner cowboy... We were a few friends and the little one came along learning all there is to learn how to manage steep terraine, be cheeky to cows and to stop in front of her mama under the reins so she could have a drink. She was black and had this adorable milk moustachio.
Nobody minded, nobody got hurt, nobody paniced.

As usual it depends. Use your head and common sense.

Funily enough, in our riding park, there are signs to tell you to leash your dog, but not your horse...go figure.

Calena
Apr. 17, 2011, 01:26 AM
One of my special memories is taking my mare and her suckling riding for several days on a large ranch. I have an inner cowboy... We were a few friends and the little one came along learning all there is to learn how to manage steep terraine, be cheeky to cows and to stop in front of her mama under the reins so she could have a drink. She was black and had this adorable milk moustachio.
Nobody minded, nobody got hurt, nobody paniced.

As usual it depends. Use your head and common sense.

Funily enough, in our riding park, there are signs to tell you to leash your dog, but not your horse...go figure.

Ah, the voice of reason. Nice to hear.

I sometimes wonder where people get their 'all or nothing' mentalities. I've ridden in arenas with a loose horse. My choice. No one else was there and my mare's best buddy would be spending a day in the stall if I didn't get him out. I didn't always have time to work my mare and get him out afterwards, especially at night in the winter when they couldn't go outside. It was a pain having him in there, but I'd rather do that than leave him standing in his stall. It was a judgement call on my part and it worked well the few times I did it.

I think it would be awesome to be able to ride and take the loose herd with me :yes:. I just don't live in a part of the country where that is feasible.

As far as our trails are concerned, once in a while a loose foal follows mama down trail. Everyone gets a kick out of it and we all move off the trail and wait in the trees till they pass. No one minds because the owner is caring for the mare and the foal. We also move off the trail when the city folks on the rental horses ride by. We don't want any accidents. The most dangerous thing in our park? Newbies on horses, owned or rented. We all cringe at the thought of a beginner out by themselves and usually solve the problem by offering to ride with them and teach them the ropes.

Common sense and common courtesy. It solves a whole lot of problems.

Festivity
Apr. 17, 2011, 01:55 AM
I have had great fun riding my two geldings that are attached at the hip with one being ridden and the other loose in the 200+ acre pasture. They are both usually fairly level headed and respect my space, which includes what ever horse I am riding. I would ride in the pasture that they lived in with ~50 other geldings. Which ever one wasn't being ridden had lots of fun tagging along and not ponying meant I could work on gallop sets a little bit. Though when the loose one would forget how to cross the creek by himself I would also get to test how good my seat was if the one being ridden had a fit. All in all it was great fun and usually worked well, though I would not do it anywhere that wasn't fenced in. I also have no problem working in an arena with a loose horse or two, as long as they aren't being a huge pest. I figure dodging loose horses is good practice for dodging kids on ponies in a show warm-up, besides if the loose horses are too big of a pain they get put back in their stalls which is the same as timeout to them.

candyappy
Apr. 19, 2011, 05:03 PM
PaintedHorse, we are on the east coast in the suburbs, riding in nature preserves. I whole-heartedly agree with a loose horse on the open plains (where you see the horizon and nothing else), that is not our terrain.
P.S. That's gorgeous territory and looks like such fun!


Your quote says it all. You are not in a place that is safe to let a horse loose while you ride. I did it years ago. I was on PRIVATE land that had water on all sides and no access except the road we came in on. I let the horse loose only when I knew there were no other riders there to meet me.

lizathenag
Apr. 19, 2011, 06:06 PM
We used to pack salt up to the high mountains in Colorado on pack horses and did not hold onto them. It was usually the young horses who would carry 5 blocks of salt. two would be in gunny sacks hanging on the sides. Thoses horses learned not to walk to close to tree trunks or their sides would get poked with the corner of the salt block.

Later, when they became cow horses you could gallop through a stand of aspen trees and never worry about banging your knees.

As a young girl on the farm we would let the baby horses follow along when we rode their mom. However all private property and a totally different time.

Not cool on public property.

PNW AMTS Dealer
Apr. 21, 2011, 01:17 AM
You want to do it on your own private property, feel free. But if you run into me on public land I'm bound to be the Beeotch and chew you out.

A loose foal on a group ride tried to nurse off my gelding and was lucky he just got a bump and squeal. Another loose horse (different ride and place) got hung up in a roll of barb wire that was hidden in the grass right off the trail. It flipped out and tore itself up something bad. No way I'd risk my horse or other riders, there are dozens of potential wrecks just waiting to happen.

SanJacMonument
Apr. 23, 2011, 09:14 PM
Limited risk but if you cross another property or another horse, then you share annoyance/risk with another person. Maybe the other horse is in training; how would you know...or a stallion...or a child/beginner/elderly rider?

On you on property, sounds like fun though. Keep him free on you dime, don't include the rest of us in your training/conditioning routine.

Not fair to others I say.

philosoraptor
Apr. 23, 2011, 11:01 PM
I'd argue that horse #2 should be ponied, not loose. If he's that glued to horse #1, it would not be a big deal at all to do.

It's a liability issue if you don't have control of him (at least in my state). A loose horse out on the trail would equate to "not in control" by most peoples' definition. Let's say you're riding along with #2 following just feet away. Suddenly something big and scary happens, let's say a low-flying helicopter. You can control and settle your horse, but #2 always has that potential to bolt. If he gets away from you and gets into trouble, what will you say to the police or to the guy suing you -- that you had a chance to control him with a leadrope but just chose not to bother. Not that a ponied horse can't get away -- but at least you'd be acting responsibly by having some way to control him. If the loose horse bolts into a road and gets hit by a car, in my state it's the horse owner's fault. If he gets into a neighbor's farm and does property damage, it's the horse owner's fault.

In theory he'll never leave his buddy's side. But out on the trail who knows. What if you bump into a pack of agitated dogs who are trying to get a horse to run? What if you accidentally ride over a ground bee's nest, the bees are stinging horses, and there is panic? What if you run into a drunk hee-haw on a 4-wheeler who is enjoying trying to upset your horses for fun?

On your own property you can do whatever you wish. I am just always thinking about the what-ifs. Better safe than sorry.

Painted Horse
Apr. 24, 2011, 09:46 PM
I'm surprised to still see this thread getting bumped to the top. Not a lot of other discussion to read. So I'll stir the pot on it a bit. The disclaimer first. I never have a loose horse when I'm around strangers, whether that be other riders, hikers, mountain bikers etc. If my horses are loose in a group, It's because the others in my group fully accept that practice.

I guess my turning horses loose goes back to a very early colt starting clinic I attended with Ray Hunt, way back when. He had 7-8 young colts in an arena and he was on his saddle horse working the herd. He had a flag on stick and had those young horses moving away from his flag. He moved them around the arena several times, changing their direction by cutting them off and waving his flag. After a bit he had the owners jump on them. He then moved those same colts around with their riders, ( no reins). It was quite a free for all, a bunch of young horses bunched in with other strange horses and then herded, Somehow the loose horses didn't hurt themselves or the fellow riders in the arena. For those of you that watch RFDTV and see Ken McNabb push his herd of horses at the beginning and end of his show. There again a mounted rider with a LOT of loose horses under his control.

Not only do I allow the occassional loose horse to follow along on the trail. But I frequently turn my horses loose while I set up camp. After getting all sweaty on the trail ride into the wilderness, My horses enjoy a good roll, free grazing the meadows and wandering down to the local water for a drink. I know with a whistle they will come running. I've never had to follow one back to trailer because they left me.

Understand, I am not back east in highly populated area. I'm turning my horses loose in areas where I probably won't see another human all day, and probably not all weekend. But it is public land.

My buckskin mare enjoying a roll
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Uintas/Maya2.jpg

Our horses free grazing in a meadow at 10,000
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Uintas/Horses3.jpg

The OP should not allow loose horses where she rides. But there are lots of places where there is no problem with the practice. It's not a black and white answer.

sketcher
May. 1, 2011, 03:54 PM
I can see where it would be fun in certain parts of the country with enough open land, to ride with quiet, loose horse.

But yesterday I was riding with a friend and we came upon a turkey. Her horse was no way walking anywhere near that bird, even though I had convinced my reluctant mare to go ahead. The gelding was convinced it was a horse eating turkey.

I can imagine if he had been following me loose, he would have been headed off in the opposite direction with a flair, regardless of the fact he was out on trail with his only herd mate to whom he is pretty strongly attached.

And I can only wonder how my mare would have reacted had her buddy gone bolting off. As it was, the darn bird caused a bit of a headache for both horses.

spacytracy
May. 1, 2011, 04:19 PM
I do it in my own pasture, with my riding horse being ridden while my mini just grazes. In the 3 years I've owned the mini I've probably only seen him canter or gallop a handful of times. He's elderly, he doesn't really care about much and he basically just stands there. He's one that I can turn loose on the yard and he doesn't go anywhere.

But I have never even heard of letting a horse loose on the trail intentionally. I guess becuase we have really no open land that's secluded - it just would never happen.