What is your take on a horse eating while on the trail? I understand stopping and putting the head down is a no-no, but what if you never knew it was happening unless you witnessed it? There is some really long grass out there. My friend has to interupt my conversation I might be having with someone else, or my peaceful scenery observation to tell me what the horse I happen to be riding at the time is doing. I am 35 years old and have been riding since before I can remember. This is driving me nuts. I absolutely love going out every weekend to different locations, but because of my friend, I partially want to stay home. Thanks for your input.
I would not be overly concerned about your horse sneaking a bit of grass that is within easy reach. I would be aware of it and be prepared to give the horse something else to think about if it got worse.
Here are the rules for my trail horse: (1) go where I point you, (2) maintain your gait and speed, (3) do not become fixated on the other horses, and (4) respond promptly when I give you a cue. If my horse does all that, I see no need to micromanage her.
Horses often do exactly what we expect them to. There is a connection between what we think is going to happen and what actually happens. If I visualize my horse being calm, confident, and obedient when I ride her, she usually is. However, if I'm worried about her making a certain mistake and focus my mental energy on that, it's much more likely to happen.
This may seem like a bunch of hocus-pocus. However, we know for certain that horses read and interpret all kinds of signals from us that we aren’t aware we’re sending. The surest way to control those signals is to control our thinking.
In short, expect the best of your horse and put your mental energy there. However, remain alert and be prepared to respond to genuine mistakes. One of the best tools for dealing with unwanted behavior is also the simplest: backing the horse. (See my post to Mike on Fidgeting and Surging).
Your friend may have the best of intentions, but don’t let her take the joy out of riding for you. That is its entire purpose.