Eating grass while ridden- new habit!

holeymoley

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Agh I'm at my wits end with this one. Would love any ideas or tips with this.

Ive had my boy for 9 years from a 3year old so basically everything he knows he has learnt from myself. He has a large personality so quite cheeky at times and has his own way of thinking but none the less he's the best, and will try anything I want to do and is 99% of the time safe and well mannered.

Now to the point of my post. To hack out at my yard, we have to ride across a small field to get onto the neighbouring road. My boy has starting snatching the reins and gorging on the grass. I have tried basic discipline with harsh voice and use of stick , and also resorted to grass reins which I didn't want to. Unfortunately these haven't particularly worked as he just pulls harder against them ! I think the problem is that he is overcome by the amount of long grass, and that it all started post pregnancy when I didn't particularly have the core or back muscles to discipline him and deal with any consequences ( the 1% of the time he's not good , he is known to put in a buck from a standstill)


Due to his health and type - good doer and got laminitis for the first time last year, he is on a small paddock for turnout with minimal grass and a haynet and has hard feed and hay overnight in his stable so grass is restricted for him. He does have hay before we hack out so he's not exactly starving. I think it's purely because he knows he can!

Hes also ridden in basic tack- cavesson noseband and snaffle. The snaffle is fine , but wondering about changing the noseband? I know he'll still eat through any noseband but he seems to be opening his mouth while yanking his head down.

Help and ideas please! It's putting me off hacking out and he's great in every other way.
 

autumn7

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Bridge reins and cross this small field in a no nonsense trot?
 

holeymoley

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Not sure about trotting, it's slightly downhill and you need to pick your way to avoid boggy bits and small dips. Tried bridging reins too, but he's got the hang of pulling against the grass reins so he's stronger now and seems to almost pull me out the saddle :(

The only thing that seems to work down the way is to adopt a serious hunting position and bridge one side of the reins so that you can pull one side up when he goes to pull, however this I imagine wilt lend up giving him a rather sore mouth.
 

Auslander

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What are your grass reins attached to? If they are correctly fitted, he shouldn't be able to pull against them
 

zigzag

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Use a daisy rein instead, if its fitted correctly, there is no way he can eat grass
 

Tnavas

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When he goes to put his head down pull only one rein as this unbalances the action of the bit and makes it harder for him to pull against you. Use your whip behind your leg really hard, a schooling whip makes this more effective.

Are you able to have his paddock grazed really low, then you can turn him out. I have always grazed laminitic ponies like this with great success and do so with my Clydesdale mare now to keep her weight under control. The grass must be really short so the horse has to work really hard to get a feed.
 

Fides

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What about a grazing muzzle out hacking so he can't eat it?
 

holeymoley

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When he goes to put his head down pull only one rein as this unbalances the action of the bit and makes it harder for him to pull against you. Use your whip behind your leg really hard, a schooling whip makes this more effective.

Are you able to have his paddock grazed really low, then you can turn him out. I have always grazed laminitic ponies like this with great success and do so with my Clydesdale mare now to keep her weight under control. The grass must be really short so the horse has to work really hard to get a feed.

Sorry I thnk you mis understood, he is turned out on grass that's been eaten down, and he gets a haynet in his paddock too. The method you describe is what is currently working however I'm worried that he'll end up with a very sore mouth!

Thinking on everyone's answers, it's occurred to me that it must be because of the length of the grass! This is why the grass reins haven't worked. We can walk through a field with cattle on it with eaten down grass with no problems. It's just this one field that is completely overgrown that he obviously feels he can try his luck.
 

Gloi

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If you put daisy reins on you might end up needing a crupper too if he's very keen on eating :D

Or as a foreign trainer once said to me on a course 'This is a very good horse but you need a bigger stick'
 

Suelin

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We used to use a length of binder twine passed from the ring on the saddle through the bit rings and back to the saddle ring on the other side. Do it tight enough but not so as he is uncomfortable. If he tries give him a smack (doesn't need to be a thrashing or anything, just a sharp tap really as a bit of a shock) behind the saddle and leg on and drive him forwards. Get a bit cross, you are supposed to be in charge not him. Good luck.
 

little_critter

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I have / had this problem. A couple of summers ago my mare got very determined to eat grass while hacking. So determined she even worked out the best way to get me off so she could eat in peace. Definitely nip this in the bud, in the end I worked out the best way to outwit her (pull 1 rein and do a tight circle to prevent the mini rear / buck that used to follow). Last summer she tried her trick the first time we hacked on grass but I remembered how to out wit her and she didn't try again. This year she hasn't tried to ditch me but if she is in long grass will always try to snatch anything she can reach.
I know what you mean ref grass reins. I tried them but she pulled so hard she pulled the saddle up her neck! Maybe try 1 grass rein which is harder for them to set against.
The main way to beat this is timing, you need to get in there and stop the head going down as soon as they first think of eating. Once they start to go down it's very hard to stop them.
You need to think like a pony and spend your time hacking out thinking of which bit of grass they are likely to eat! I end up going along thinking to myself 'that bit looks tempting', 'that cow parsley is dangling right in front of her muzzle' so you can intercept at the very first twitch.
Good luck, I wish I'd been able to nip mine in the bud as despite being consistently strict I've never been able to break my pony's habit.
 

ribbons

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I don't mean to sound rude, but a horse can't eat grass whilst its being ridden. It can however eat all it likes while being sat on.
Ride him on, and mean it.
 

PollyP99

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I don't mean to sound rude, but a horse can't eat grass whilst its being ridden. It can however eat all it likes while being sat on.
Ride him on, and mean it.

I agree with this to some extent but having had a previous little b that could and would try to get to grass at a canter I sympathise with the op! With him it was no nonsense kick on and never let him get his head down, consistency and riding fowArd worked for him.
 

holeymoley

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Some really good ideas , thank you everyone, I will try them out.

Ribbons- we hack out for enjoyment. He's not a horse with a temparement that you can just 'sit on' as you'd either not leave the yard or you'd be taken off with at full speed to wherever he fancied. He is 'ridden' to a very good standard in the arena be it flatwork or jumping and is not allowed to not work correctly. Hacking out is a brain break for him and we both enjoy it. As stated before, he is fine ridden in a field with short grass, and , I would think its his circumstances with his restriction of grass in his paddock which is causing this. He is being overcome at the sight of long lush grass. In the 9 years I've had him, basically teaching him to hack as such on various terrains, this is the first time this has started! I could and I have, ridden into the field with hind engaged, supple and obedient, up out and front , and leg on, and he will still find a way to shorten it lengthen or bend his neck to get the grass.

Thanks again for everyone's replies.
 

Crazy_cat_lady

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At the rs where I keep H, the ponies' grass reins go from the bit up through the browband then along their neck onto the d ring of the saddle. They can move their necks but not put them down to eat.
 

fatpiggy

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Sorry I thnk you mis understood, he is turned out on grass that's been eaten down, and he gets a haynet in his paddock too. The method you describe is what is currently working however I'm worried that he'll end up with a very sore mouth!

Thinking on everyone's answers, it's occurred to me that it must be because of the length of the grass! This is why the grass reins haven't worked. We can walk through a field with cattle on it with eaten down grass with no problems. It's just this one field that is completely overgrown that he obviously feels he can try his luck.



If he was mine I'm afraid it would be his bottom that was very sore, and his ears would be ringing too!
 

Jericho

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My 9 yr old daughter had the same issue with her v strong greedy pony - no amount of pulling, kicking, shouting, smacking got his head down. Tried grass reins but he then went for the high grass verges, little toad! Then bought a bucket style nose net, made big holes round his nose but so his mouth was still covered and problem solved until she grew bigger muscles and could ride him on better. When he was without nose net I told her to pull one rein as much harder for him to pull against.
 

amandap

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The 'reward' of grass can be worth any amount of jabbing (grass reins), heaving and smacking. I am glad op is thinking of the horses' mouth.
 

Micky

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As little critter said....awareness is everything..my horse used to try to nap, i tuned into his paces and could tell split second he was going to turn, and stopped it..Same with eating grass..Timing! Good luck
 

Crazy_cat_lady

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If he was mine I'm afraid it would be his bottom that was very sore, and his ears would be ringing too!

This made me laugh but I would also be the same.

As little critter said....awareness is everything..my horse used to try to nap, i tuned into his paces and could tell split second he was going to turn, and stopped it..Same with eating grass..Timing! Good luck

This- mine used to nap when hacking alone, agree part of it was fear as he never wrnt out alone but now if he goes to turn backwards he is pushed into trot for a few strides to get him thinking forwards. I don't mind him spooking but he is not to reverse or spin.

Op, could you maybe tie a knot in each rein between where you hold them and you then it will be harder for him to pull them through your hands?
 

holeymoley

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Great thank you, more ideas! He was an extremely bad napper when I bought him due to being broken and put in the school too early, that was an extreme obsticle to overcome so this one is rather feeble in comparison!

I've not been out yet, just been schooling, but I'll try out everyone's ideas. If I take a fancy to being bucked and taken off with or probably reared with, I'll try fatpiggy's idea :)
 

Boysy

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Really simple, really cheap and no pain to anyone.

Kids fishing net, Wilkos 99p, take off the rod, unthread the wire from the net, thread a shoelace through it, place over ponies nose and mouth, thread shoelace through noseband.

They can breathe, they can snort, they can open their mouths as wide as they want but hey presto they cannot eat.................

Failsafe way to stop verge snacking or road picnics as i call them. They only try once, can't get a damn thing so give it up as a bad job........

And the bestest thing, you can get the nets in weird and wacky colours - LOL!
 
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