The Trail Salad Camp and the No Eating on the Trail Camp
If you know me at all, then you know I fall on the extreme side of the Trail Salad Camp. Splash is counting on it because he believes that without Trail Salad, he would starve to death and collapse after ten minutes. So as we wander down the trail, I let Splash snack on tender grasses and special green spots, as he is inclined.
We have worked long and hard to arrive at an equitable solution to: 1) keeping up with my trail companions; and 2) letting Splash eat all he wants to. Clearly, he can’t eat all he wants to or we would make no forward progress. Lately, we have agreed that snagging a mouthful without coming to a complete stop at the grass (gate to you jet setters) works best. So, Splash cruises though the sea of waving grass with his head down and only the tips of his ears above the seed heads. Sometimes he trips over his lower lip but he is getting better at his technique with practice.
Several YaYa’s are adamant that the horse must do his/her job of carrying the rider down the trail without the distraction of having snacks along the way. These women are gifted horsemen (women actually) and I have the greatest respect for their training methods. They believe that preventing snacking helps the horse focus on his job; he will be a more willing riding companion and happier knowing where he stands with the boss. This is definitely true for some horses and some riders. Diez for example. If she was allowed one bite of grass or a mouthful of delicious leaves, she took that as the sign that work was over and relaxation was hers to enjoy. So long as she understood that snacking was not allowed, she was amenable to working and following direction. So, no snacks for her until the ride was done. Also, training the horse to resist temptation is a good idea if he will be used as a mount for novice riders who do not know how to prevent excessive stops for snacks and can’t keep the horse moving along with the group.
I still believe Trail Salad is the way for me. Long ago when I rode TC, I found that letting him snack along the trail reduced his tendency to spook. I believe that Trail Salad worked on TC for three reasons: 1) if I was relaxed enough to drop the reins to allow snacking, then TC was more relaxed; 2) the position of his neck and head in the grazing position (equi-posture for serenity like a yoga pose) helped TC feel safe and therefore less spooky; and 3) with regular snacks along the way, splashing of the acid in his stomach was reduced because of the forage in the stomach, making him feel better.
So, Equi-posture and Trail Salad for me – Splash is a lucky guy (except for the tiny detail of having to carry that pesky rider around). But I am willing to ride with my No Eating on the Trail friends. YaYa’s for ever!