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Thread: Backing up

  1. #1

    Backing up

    My name is Megan and I have had my horse for almost a year. He is a Quarter horse/ Throughbread 16.3h and about 18. I was wondering what you can do to get your horse to back up while you are riding them. When I am on the ground he will back up fine but as soon as I hop on top he will not back up. I have had many different people ride him varying in expierance and even one of the best people I know has a hard time backing him up. What can I do to Get my horse to back up?

    Thx Megan

  2. #2
    You teach him on the ground first.
    Since you say he knows it, combine it with a voice cue and bridle cue, on the ground.

    Take the horse and put his bridle on, bring a long dressage whip. Go out in the field and apply a little pressure on the bit, as you would if you were on his back and tell him BACK, BACK, BACK and at the same time tap his front feet with the whip (TAP! Not HIT!). The SECOND he backs up, stop tapping and praise him. Progress to where he will back when you tap in FRONT of his foot, then no tapping at all, then no bit pressure. Once he can back with no or only slight bit pressure and just the word BACK, BACK, BACK, then mount up.

    Once mounted, lean way back in the seat (over exaggerate at first) and tell him BACK BACK BACK as you apply the same pressure to his mouth as you did in the beginning of the lesson.

    THE VERY SECOND THAT HE TAKES EVEN ONE STEP - EVEN IF IT IS ONLY ONE FOOT - BACKWARDS...stop everything and praise him and pet his neck.

    Then repeat.

    Gradually decrease the pressue, decrease your exaggerated leaning back and soon your horse will back with just the vocal command and slight pressure on the bit.

    We also combined our leaning back with tapping our feet on his shoulders, so now my horses back with just a slight tap of our feet on their shoulders.

  3. #3
    I would be concerned that it may be a physical issue that is preventing him from backing up under saddle.

    I would first get his teeth, feet, back and saddle checked thoroughly before trying to continue teaching this, or indeed doing any riding.

    If all is well physically, then I would take the steps that kerryclair has suggested. I'd also suggest that to start with, you reinforce(stop applying pressure & reward) the smallest try. Don't wait for him to take one whole step if this has been too difficult for him, but reward him for even bringing his head back or leaning back a bit. Do this a few times and work up from there.

    If it has previously been such a difficult task, my bet is there are gaps and problems elsewhere in his training. I would go back to teaching him on the ground to yield to gentle pressure in a variety of ways, not just backwards. If you find he's having a problem with a certain exercise/yield, or is not doing it with very little pressure, break the exercise down into baby steps and reinforce him for the slightest try - leaning, for eg. - after he's got that, then move on to ask slightly more of him.

    Always ask yourself, if he's having a problem with something, how you can break the exercise down to simple components, to make it easier & clearer for him to understand.



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