horse tries to graze while riding

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by heatherindeskies, May 8, 2011.

  1. heatherindeskies

    heatherindeskies Songster

    May 23, 2010
    SE Minnesota
    I have a large pony that , while riding in the ditches, tries to put his head down to get grass every 5 steps or so. I pull him back up right away, but it is not enjoyable to fight him this often. I am not yet comfortable riding on the highway shoulder on the gravel area to avoid the grass area....
    any advice? I've only been on him a couple of times. He is very well mannered otherwise and doesn't spook at things. I really do like him.

  2. babyblue

    babyblue Songster

    Sep 23, 2009
    super consistent work, never ever allow him to graze while being worked. also helps to keep them on task and focused, in training mode so to speak instead of walking around is lala land like some horses like to do. its annoying but time will help some, some ponies in particular are notoriously bad about this.
  3. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    Might also want to get an overcheck.

    Also, see-saw the reins rather than a straight pull.
  4. TMNTCkins

    TMNTCkins Songster

    I would not pull on his mouth, I would give give him a good fast kick. Do it everytime he put's his head down and he will soon stop.
  5. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Yep, I was just going to say forward motion. Doesn't have to be fast...just keep his legs moving everytime he reaches down for grass.

  6. WIChookchick

    WIChookchick Songster

    Aug 25, 2010
    Rural Brooklyn, WI
    We had a similar issue with my DH's horse when she was a bit younger, she is 6 now.. so not that old.
    We like to take breaks while riding, in the shade when we can, and we taught our horses a specific que that really can't be confused with
    anything else, to let them know its ok to eat a bit of grass. Otherwise, they are not allowed to eat grass while saddled and being ridden.

    I also work with a shetland who likes to put his head down to eat, and his 6 yr old rider just isn't strong enough to pull his head up when he
    decides to eat. I read and then got some information online, and created an "anti-grazing" rig. It is simple and super easy to make.

    It is similar to an over check... but uses what the horse already has in its mouth.
    Take a long thin cotton rope, about 6-7 feet long or less depending on how big the pony/horse is, and how long their neck is.
    Take one end and tie it to the TOP of the bit, near where it meets the head stall. Run one end up through the browband on one side, IF you can put
    it through the loop there, near the cheek piece, the better... take the other end of the rope and run it through the other side of the horse's head and
    tie that end to the top of that side of the bit, you can then take the loop that is near the saddle, and either run it through a pair of d-rings near the horn,
    or under the opening and then loop around the saddle horn.
    If in an english saddle you can loop the end through the d-rings at the front of the saddle and then just tie a knot or a bow Or put the stirrup leathers
    over each end to hold it in place.. You may need to take the slack out by tying up each end... OR make adjustments at the end that attaches to the top
    of the bit and cut off the excess.
    YOU need to make sure the tension is the same on each side, AND that the horse has normal head movement and can stretch its head/neck a bit.
    But not enough to put its head down...'s+Anti-Grazing+Device

    What I have described is virtually identical to these, minus the snaps.. which I hadn't thought of at the time I made the set for the shetland...

  7. Squishy

    Squishy Songster

    Feb 2, 2011
    I don't know the style you are riding in.
    I liked to have really loose reins... but on a stubborn horse.. I liked to leave just a little bit of leeway.. at a certain point, my hands were set and horsie wasn't getting any more head then that... loose enough that if they are good they aren't feeling pessure.. but if they are pulling down they aren't going to get enough length to nibble shorter grass.. or importantly (my reason) to buck. If you keep only that amount of space available on the reins, you shouldn't have to worry except with the longer grasses.

    If the problem is that horsie is just stronger than you... then you should look into other measures. Forward motion is good.. and you can use turning to your advantage. Also I would want to get something... perhaps another bit.. perhaps a hackima that has some knobs on the inside of the nose... then you can ride with two reins.. and only use the hackima for correction. It depends on what your expectations and desires are.
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    What they said. Especially about the grazing reins. Also, assuming that your level of riding confidence and the horse's attitude permit it, you can carry a crop and simply give him a good whack whenever he thinks about putting his head down.

    HOWEVER WARNING WARNING if you are a "not heavyweight" rider -- that is, if you are a child or a small adult -- DO NOT USE GRAZING REINS (i.e. overcheck attached to saddle dees) WITHOUT ALSO USING A CRUPPER. Otherwise unnecessarily interesting things can happen.

  9. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Songster

    Jul 26, 2010
    The other possibility is that you could teach the horse that 'while this is going on, do not graze'.

    Whatever 'this' is, is up to you, as long as the horse can figure it out. Some people keep a little bit of contact with the horse's mouth through the reins, even wiggling their fingers or moving their hand very, very slightly (it need not even be enough for anyone else to be able to see) while the horse is supposed to be 'working'.

    When the reins are loose and/or the rider has no 'feel' of the horse's mouth, many horses think, 'Oh this is my invitation to eat grass!'

    Many horses are trained to always go with the rider having a 'draped' rein (very loose, long, hanging down), if the rider tries to take a feel of the horse's mouth by shortening up the reins, the horse may toss his head or show other signs of nervousness or confusion.

    In their case, just jerking on the reins when the horse puts his head down below an 'allowable' height, can stop the grazing. Other people give the horse a very sharp leg signal when he puts his head down to graze - others use rein AND legs.

    For others the solution is to keep the horse working and moving forward enough that he doesn't even really THINK about eating grass!

    Many people never allow a horse to graze or eat with the bridle/bit on. That can forestall a lot of the problems.

  10. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    As soon as you feel him thinking about grazing, use your seat and legs to keep his forward motion going. Personally I find that a horse stopping his forward motion without your approval is a greater problem than what he is doing with his head. I have a special growly-voiced "NO!" that I use for bad behavior; add that also. Hauling the head up by the reins has never been a long-term solution for me; you end up annoying yourself and the horse.
    Essentially this is just a bad habit that you need to invest some time into correcting.

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