Okay, now I am confused, what is the difference between backing for a trail class and backing for a performance class?
Performance classes normally ask you to back up after the entire class is lined up. Very little movement is expected of the rider to make the horse back up in a nice, smooth, straight line.
In trail, you will sometimes back between parallel poles that are laying in a straight line, or sometimes an L shape or even a zig zag. The original photo here shows an L shaped back up. Some classes will have you back around other obstacles, such as cones or poles.
Sometimes it's easy to negotiate these obstacles. For instace, a straight back up. No need to spend excessive time looking behind you. Same is true of poles, as they're tall enough to see.
However, when you've got complicated patterns where corners are involved, I've yet to meet a judge who'll mark you down for looking to see where your horse's feet are. I'm not talking twisting around in the saddle, but small looks. And, to be honest, if I were the judge I'd mark people down for not
looking. There's no way you can back an L or Z without checking where your horse's feet are.
But hey, I'm a stickler for trail being just that, trail. Like I said before, you'll lose more points for knocking the poles than you will for sneeking a peek and backing clean. (And yes, I do compete in trail classes