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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2000
    Posts
    71

    Default Rude Behavior: Snatching Leaves and Grass on the Trail

    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. :-)



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2000
    Posts
    71

    Default

    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!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore of Virginia
    Posts
    1,234

    Default

    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!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 2005
    Posts
    1,667

    Default

    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.
    ********
    There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore of Virginia
    Posts
    1,234

    Thumbs up

    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



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2005
    Location
    North East, MD
    Posts
    4,356

    Default

    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!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2006
    Posts
    2,348

    Default

    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.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 18, 2008
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    1,108

    Default

    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



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    Location
    between the barn and the pond
    Posts
    14,495

    Default

    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.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2005
    Location
    North East, MD
    Posts
    4,356

    Default

    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.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep. 25, 2005
    Location
    The Land of the Frozen
    Posts
    13,787

    Default

    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.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Posts
    1,830

    Default

    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.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2003
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,966

    Default

    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.

    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.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2005
    Location
    North East, MD
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    4,356

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sithly View Post
    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.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 27, 2007
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    200

    Default

    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.
    (¯`·._¤ Jess!·._¤ ´¯)



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2003
    Location
    US
    Posts
    1,966

    Default

    I actually appreciate Shadow's viewpoint. I find it makes a nice contrast to some of the Precious Poopsie types, generally.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov. 27, 2007
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    200

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sithly View Post
    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.
    (¯`·._¤ Jess!·._¤ ´¯)



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2003
    Location
    US
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    1,966

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess! View Post
    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.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug. 30, 2007
    Location
    Illinois, USA
    Posts
    8,319

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess! View Post
    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.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
    Location
    Eastern Shore of Virginia
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    1,234

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sithly View Post
    ...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.



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