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Overgrazing
#1
I adopted a 3 year old wild Mustang gelding a few mos ago. I don't know if he was carrying extra weight when gathered, but he was said to always have his head in the hay bin at the holding facility. Since I board him and he lives in a 30 x 15' pen, and has a voracious appetite for his twice a day hay feedings. I try to turn him out frequently. When I do this he grazes non-stop. When I take him on long walks it is a constant fight to keep his head up out of the grass. He has never given me a problem catching him, but the last time I tried to halter him while grazing it became a physical struggle trying to get his head separated from the grass. I used my boot under his muzzle to break the grazing while pulling up on his halter wrapped around his neck. After a brief struggle I got him haltered and he pouted all the way back to his pen, crowding into me with his shoulder in protest. This isn't just a respect issue, this guy's #1 passion in life is food, and it's a constant battle to compete with it. He is close to being ridden but I dread taking him out on the trail ... with grass. I suspect that horses can also get eating disorders from what they consider deprevation, after living on a free range for years. Do you think he would do better if pastured where he could return to more of his natural habitat? I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!
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#2
Horses are designed to eat small quantities of food at a constant rate. If he is only getting hay twice a day, say 8am and 6pm, and you want to work him at 3 pm, its going to be hard to keep his attention on you when his belly is telling him to eat, especially if your working him on grass. Pasturing would be more natural and help him focus when being worked.
Also when you start riding, do not let him eat at all. Pay attention and don't let him get his head down or to the side to snatch bites. You are always training your horse. If you allow it once, he won't understand why he can't at another time. Be consistent. When he's working (tack on), he can't eat.
Nancy (and Tag & Rocky)
Free & easy down the trail I go......
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#3
Thanks Nancy. I had been trying to work with him a few hours before dinner, but in the round pen. I will adjust my schedule so he isn't so hungry, until I can get him into a pasture situation again, where I think he will do a lot better. Good idea about never letting him graze while riding. I appreciate your input.
Linda
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#4
One thing with mustangs is that they are not use to the rich foods we tend to feed our dom. horses. Try getting him a poor quaility hay and giving him more of a free choice diet. Well the idea of turning him out in a pasture full time sounds good it normally causes some big health problems for them since they are not built to use that rich of a feed. You may find that he packs on weight easily, gets classic IR fat pockets. The high sugar can really effect the range caught mustangs. Not all but a good number of them.

It is a respect issue even if it is a food issue. If he respect you and had the training to listen and respect you it wouldn't be such a fight. I agree he is not ready for the trail and maybe not ready to ride since he won't listen on the ground.
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#5
quote:
Originally posted by Stormie

It is a respect issue even if it is a food issue. If he respect you and had the training to listen and respect you it wouldn't be such a fight. I agree he is not ready for the trail and maybe not ready to ride since he won't listen on the ground.

I agree with Stormie. This is a training/respect issue. He needs to know that when he is in halter & lead or under saddle, there is no eating allowed. He needs lots and lots of groundwork before he is ready to ride. What you have on the ground you will have in the saddle. All horses are designed to graze constantly, so to get him to stop when you want him to is a training issue.
"You learn a thing a day, you store up smart" - Festus Haggen

"A man’s soul can’t be hidden,
From the creatures in his care." -
Hard Candy Cowboy by Debra Meyer


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#6
Stormie & HMeyer,
Thanks for the suggestions. He definitely needs more of a leader. I just have to figure out how to do it without my dominant arm (torn tendon, etc). I'm trying to do round pen every day and he's improving.
Linda
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#7
Linda, just take it slow and easy. There's no hurry to ride. When you have him on lead, if he starts to put his head down to eat, I would send a wave up the lead rope to get him to pop his head back up, rather than trying to pull it up or pop him up with your bad arm. Just flip your end of the lead rope so it sends a wave up to his chin. He will probably pop his head right up. And give him a sharp "NO" at the same time.
"You learn a thing a day, you store up smart" - Festus Haggen

"A man’s soul can’t be hidden,
From the creatures in his care." -
Hard Candy Cowboy by Debra Meyer


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#8
What type of halter are you using? A rope or even a flat with a chain may help make up for what you arm can no longer do.
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#9
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it a try.
Linda

quote:
Originally posted by hmeyer

Linda, just take it slow and easy. There's no hurry to ride. When you have him on lead, if he starts to put his head down to eat, I would send a wave up the lead rope to get him to pop his head back up, rather than trying to pull it up or pop him up with your bad arm. Just flip your end of the lead rope so it sends a wave up to his chin. He will probably pop his head right up. And give him a sharp "NO" at the same time.

Linda
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#10
Stormie,
I'm using a rope halter. The lead rope isn't part chain, but good suggestion. I'll give it a try.
Thanks much!
Linda

quote:
Originally posted by Stormie

What type of halter are you using? A rope or even a flat with a chain may help make up for what you arm can no longer do.


Linda
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