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Riding one horse with one loose -settle this argument

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  • Riding one horse with one loose -settle this argument

    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!

  • #2
    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!
    "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


    • #3
      Just take a look at this fairly recent thread:

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


      • #4
        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

        Here is my mare being used as a pack horse following us through a large boulder field


        • Original Poster

          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!


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chall View Post
              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?


              • #8
                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.


                • #9
                  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.


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by gothedistance View Post
                    Is this preserve public lands, or privately held?
                    Both. Private property and public lands.


                    • #11
                      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.


                      • #12
                        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.


                        • #13
                          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.
                          "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                          • #14
                            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.


                            • #15
                              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.....
                              Just cause you move to Texas, doesn't mean you are a Texan. After all, if a cat puts her kittens in the oven, It doesn't make them Bisquits.


                              • #16
                                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.
                                IN GOD WE TRUST
                                OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.


                                • #17
                                  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?


                                  • #18
                                    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.


                                    • #19
                                      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.
                                      Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                                      Northern NV


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Beverley View Post
                                        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.