My Pony Wants to Graze at Shows With His Bridle On. Is This the Worst Thing?

Photo by Adam Hill

SOUND ADVICE: My pony wants to graze at shows with his bridle on, while being ridden or waiting to show. Is this the worst thing?

It’s a common practice, but one I’m not in favor of. Though unlikely, it’s possible for your pony to choke on large chunks of grass that he was unable to chew well with the bit in his mouth. More likely is that the pony will learn to stop to graze, or pull down hard on the reins in an effort to graze while being ridden. This can become a habit and is very frustrating and sometimes unsafe for smaller riders.

How do I curb this behavior? 
Start by making it clear there is no grazing with a bit in the mouth. Avoid opportunities by not standing the pony in a bridle in a grassy area. If he starts to reach down, stop him by pulling his head back up. If it’s already a habit, have a stronger child sit on him and correct him as he goes to reach down.

What about grazing when you’re riding out of the ring at home?

When hacking out, I assume the areas he grazes have taller grass and the concern is getting large wads of grass in his mouth that he can’t chew well and move around the bit and could choke. In general, there are those, like me, that stick to no grazing with a bit in the mouth, and the other side that believes it’s relaxing and rewarding for the horse. I would say a hard no if the behavior becomes rude.

Robin Greenwood ©Allie Conrad

THE EXPERT: Robin Greenwood 

Robin Greenwood is the owner and trainer of Grand Central ponies in Southern Pines, NC. She has trained dozens of ponies and riders to wins and championships at the National Horse Show, Indoors, Pony Finals, and many other top shows.

*This story was originally published in the August 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!

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