How to back up the horse - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 14 Old 07-22-2010, 07:31 AM Thread Starter
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How to back up the horse

I run into this article Teaching Your Horse to Back and it sounds somewhat different. I've never heard you have to use the whip (butt of the whip in this case) to teach the horse to back up. So I'm really confused here... Is it a right way?

And if not what's the right way of doing it?
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 10:03 AM
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There are multiple ways of training a horse to back. I will use the butt of the whip to put pressure on the chest, only if the horse has not responded to other aids first.
I position myself a little in front of the horse's shoulder, facing it's hind quarters and merely suggest that the horse move backwards by directing myself towards it. Many horses will respond by backing if you so much as take a firm step towards them from this angle. Others may need a little encouragement. This can be your fingers on the chest, and light backwards tug on the halter, the butt of the whip on the chest etc. etc. As long as there is pressure when the horse does not back, and the pressure is released when it does back, it will learn ;) Just make sure you're keeping the aids for backing up distinct from other aids.
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kayty View Post
There are multiple ways of training a horse to back. I will use the butt of the whip to put pressure on the chest, only if the horse has not responded to other aids first.
I position myself a little in front of the horse's shoulder, facing it's hind quarters and merely suggest that the horse move backwards by directing myself towards it. Many horses will respond by backing if you so much as take a firm step towards them from this angle. Others may need a little encouragement. This can be your fingers on the chest, and light backwards tug on the halter, the butt of the whip on the chest etc. etc. As long as there is pressure when the horse does not back, and the pressure is released when it does back, it will learn ;) Just make sure you're keeping the aids for backing up distinct from other aids.
Hold on, Kayty. You are talking about backing from the ground. That's an easy task. I was talking about backing while in saddle. Somehow I thought/think this guy is using butt of the whip to back a horse FROM the saddle..?
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 10:16 AM
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Oops sorry, I didn't read the full article haha!

In that case, no I wouldn't use the butt of the whip to back from under saddle, unless you have someone on the ground assisting you. To back while under saddle, I will sit a little more onto my pubic bone, put my leg on while applying light and consistent pressure on the bit. Not pulling back, but just enough of a pressure for the horse to want to respond to it. I never change the degree of pressure, just maintaining my position no matter what the horse does, sideways, forwards etc. until he takes a step back then take the pressure off and pat.
It doesn't take them long to learn to back, my boy learnt it within 3 attempts, and will now rein back with the slightest tip of my pelvis.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 10:18 AM
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I just ask like I would on any if my reiners and when they take a step I release. I praise and ask again. Repeat the process a couple times then go do something else and come back to it later. As he starts taking the step willingy, ask for another step. And continue like that.
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, folks! Interesting enough my old instructor said as long as you back up you don't stand there but send the horse forward right away for couple steps. Not positive of the real purpose of it though.
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 10:26 AM
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Your old instructor is correct. If you overdo backing up and also just allow them to back and stand, lots of the little devils will learn to back as an evasion and also to back into halts.
Avoid spending an entire session working on backing, just throw in one or two here and there, keep it very casual.
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Avoid spending an entire session working on backing, just throw in one or two here and there, keep it very casual.
OMG! That would be crazy! I usually just do 2 - 4 backs each direction when I walk them between the trot sessions.
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 01:17 PM
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When I teach a horse to back up, I start on the ground. I use split reins and run then through my saddle strings, pulling them forwards. I use a dressage whip in one hand, and stand slightly in front of the horse holding the reins in my left hand. I will point to the chest and say "Back". If horse takes one step back, great! Praise, pats etc. Then we do 2 steps back, no rein pressure etc. If your ground work is solid then it is no big deal. Then I keep using the command BACK and give a slight tug on the reins, enough to have steady even pressure. One step back, rein release. I keep doing this til we get to the point that if I say BACK and apply rein pressure, horse will continue backing up.

Once I am mounted, it is the same. I will just apply rein pressure and give the command BACK, and 9 times out of 10 I've done enough ground work that horse simply accepts and backs up. Once he backs up steady I will start using one leg at a time to move his hindquarter over. One exercise I do is to back up in a circle and a figure 8. I want as much control over my horse's body as possible and this is a great way to do it.

Spent a whole hour today laying in a pasture, waiting for a sparkling vampire to show up. Alas, I woke up and looked over, only to find a mound of horse crap. Sigh.
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-23-2010, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post
Thanks, folks! Interesting enough my old instructor said as long as you back up you don't stand there but send the horse forward right away for couple steps. Not positive of the real purpose of it though.
Backing is not natural for the horse. By taking a couple of steps forward you are - in very simple terms - putting everything back where it belongs.
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