I thought it would be good to share with folks some things I discovered this summer with my horses. For those of you who are unaware I have a ranch, Heartline Ranch, where I take folks on guided horse rides throughout our beautiful scenery.
We are very lucky to have truly great views, soft loamy trails that are a joy to ride. The concept that it is ours is still overwhelming to me.
This year we started out just as other years with this great reward system for our horses. I can save you an awfully lot of grief by stating : do not do this. So what did we do that was so awful.I have always like the idea of as soon as I finish riding my horse I would give him or her some grain as a reward for being such a good horse. Now this worked great, plus I liked the reward system a lot, it made me feel good giving my horses such a nice treat.
But guess what happened? They became incredibly barn sour this year. This is totally brand new behavior for them this year. Now understand I have done this for several years with zero problems. However the little darlings, each and every one of them started acting like spoiled brats, not obeying comands as usual. My horses are very well trained as I put new people on their back all of the time, so they must be very easy going, mind well and just in general being really good horses.
However this year they decided that instead of being their normal selves they would act up costantly on the trail, especially my horse, Scout. She became a pill, only wanting to go way too fast, refusing to slow down without a constant struggle.So after all of these years why did they start to act this way, I have no idea.
So I made a simple change, no more grain after a ride, period, not for any of them. At least not after a ride! Instead they get some grain only in the morning with their hay. Nobody gets to even smell a grain bucket any other time.
So what happens? After about 2 or 3 rides under the new rules, they are once again the sweet horses I had known for the past years. My girl, Scout who is absolutely the lead mare is back to being her well trained self. I am happy to say all of them are the great horses we have prided ourselves in. Everybody rides as they should with no problems at all. Now I still like the reward system so everyone gets to graze some in the pasture after a ride. They are very happy with the new way of doing things and rides are so much more fun.