Horse running backwards - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 09-08-2013, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Horse running backwards

So my horse Sheena literally will trot backwards and I am stumped by how to correct this. She does not pay attention to where she is going and will run backwards for as long as she can. The last time she did it, I tried to send her forward with my leg and she reared up instead :/ I am pretty sure it is out of fear/excitement and not out of pain. She has had her teeth done, doesn't seem to have back pain, and I have checked her tack. I don't think it is the bit because she did it once when I was riding bareback in a halter. Anyways she does not do this often, but these are some of the times when it has happened:

a.) We were trail riding and had to cross over a bridge. Sheena didn't want to go over it so another horse went first, and when she thought she was being left behind she started trotting backwards. (Doesn't make sense since you would think she would want to go towards the horse)
b.) We were in the ring messing around with mounted games. We were doing a relay and I had to make Sheena wait behind a cone for the other rider to come back and pass me the stick. She was excited and when I didn't let her go forward she started trotting backwards instead.
c.) I was on a trial ride by myself and Sheena was scared to go through a narrow section of trail so she started trotting backwards.
d.) We were on a trial ride in a large group and we all stopped at a intersection to decide which way we would go. There was one horse behind us, and when we started moving again, the horse behind us walked ahead of Sheena. Sheena started running backwards, almost into a tree, and when I kicked her she reared up.

She has done this other times, but it is pretty much always when she feels she is being left behind. What should I do when she does this? I can't always be in the lead on trails because my friends horses are much worse when in the rear. Now I'm worried every time she runs backwards she will rear. This was the first time I had ever had her rear. Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 12 Old 09-08-2013, 08:21 PM
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-08-2013, 08:25 PM
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Thats very odd.
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-08-2013, 11:26 PM
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we had a horse that did that. What i found really helpful was just pulling one rein as soon s she does it and just let her spin in circles until she stops. Dont worry if she keep turning, just hold her until she stops, she will eventually. Also work on leading. If she wont cross the bridge, get off and lead her across it, they are generally more willing that way if their rider is going first.

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post #5 of 12 Old 09-08-2013, 11:49 PM
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I'm not sure if this would work for her since our horse that does this is scared but hey, just an idea. We found out that kicking him forward did not work so we did the next best thing: we backed him up to high heaven. We always made sure it was a safe environment but as soon as he backs I back him up and literally do circles while backing. I've even backed him into a round pen gate before and that cured that. When we're on the ground leading and he does it I back him up until he's had a little come to jesus moment. One time (on accident!) I backed him up, he decided to be a brat and to keep backing and backed into the electric fence, whenever he's being a brat and backing by golly he looks first. He does the exact same thing as your mare but one rein stops don't work on him, he's like a freight train. He did this during a dressage lesson one day and believe it or not I did that entire lesson (small maneuvers and all) backwards. He wanted to go forwards pretty soon but I kept him backing and backing so that he knew it was unacceptable to not think.

He still backs and sometimes doesn't look before hand and gets crazy but I've found through experience it's a lot safer to just go with his motion then have him bolt on me. Hopefully one of these days it will sink into his brain that backing up and being stupid about it means he gets to back up more.... But that's with a horse that's scared so I'm not sure if it would work for her. IME sometimes it's best to let them put themselves in a bit of a non dangerous predicament and let them figure it out that they did it to themselves.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-08-2013, 11:58 PM
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I'd turn her around into the correct direction again so she trots backwards in the direction you want to go. If she tries to go forward again, loop her around in the direction you want.
NorthernMama and Let it slide like this.

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post #7 of 12 Old 09-11-2013, 01:21 PM
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My paso mare, who was a specialist of getting away with BS when we got her will do this stuff. Our issue is that my mare is terribly barn sour and will fight from the barn to the road (she is fine once we hit the road) and if, bucking/kicking, wont help, then she will try to back to the barn and she can go backwards as fast as she can go forward. when she does it I will loosen the reins and give her her head just long enough for her to relax, then I will pull her head around to my knee. Sometimes all this does is stop her other times it will spin her around.

I find this to be a TERRIBLE habit, and extremely dangerous. My mare has gone over backwards on me twice pulling this stuff. My only answer to you is to pull your horses head around so she naturally wants to turn or stop. then once you get her stopped. back her at your own leisure until you are tired and she wants nothing more than to go forward.

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post #8 of 12 Old 09-11-2013, 03:42 PM
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When I got Jake he did that a lot. Its a bad habit that got us into some nasty situations. He would put his head down between his legs and run backwards. He would end up running into other horses, off ledges and into anything.

I believe it started from someone who used backing up as a punishment before I got him. Anytime he got frustrated or I would try to restrict forward momentum in any way he would just start running backwards. He expected me to start pulling and just anticipated it.

The only way I stopped it was to disengage his hind when ever he thought about backing up. One rein pull his head to the side and dig in a heel on the same side you're pulling the rein on. Legs that are crossing can't back up. Though it takes some consideration of what the horse is backing up for. Mine believed that he would be prohibited from going forward, as he was not spooky or balky in the least. Normally this is when we would be getting ready for a barrel run, and he would always willing enter the arena, but soon as he was ready to go if I didn't let him bolt he would run backwards. He got excited to run home on trail, he ran backwards. He got so used to being restrained that its just what he did. No amount of making him back up more, kicking, spurring or using a crop broke this habit. Just the disengaging the hind soon as he thought about backing up and keeping him moving forward.

If your horse is refusing to go forward and is avoiding something I might suggest the just keep asking for the forward movement, let them back up as far as they want but keep the cue constant until the horse moves forward, then relax and stay out of the horse's way until it stops or backs up again. I have found that turning and backing the way you want to go, or circles doesn't build the trust or stop the issue from happening...they are just tricks to fool the horse into doing it. I like to know that if I say go forward the horse has one go forward. Not turn away, not circle and back that way. The cue will not be released until that goal is reached. Keep the horse facing the way you want to go.

But if you're worried about the rearing I would suggest the disengaging of the hind quarters to stop the backwards running.

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post #9 of 12 Old 09-14-2013, 05:44 AM
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I agree with disengaging of the hindquarters. Practice and practice until she's got it down pat, and next time you go out and see a potential problem, moment she stops moving forward disengage the hindquarters and then send her forward.

Also, the "backwards" gait has the same footfalls of a trot - a two beat, diagonal gait. Your horse isn't "trotting" backwards, just backing fast.
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-14-2013, 08:25 AM
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Ah.... I had one that did that to get out of work... And was not scared, just ornery. What finally worked for him was making it my idea... Once he started to go backwards... We kept going backwards til I said to stop... The first day we must have lapped the arena 50 times going backwards.... More backwards than forwards. But
Then he realized he wasn't getting a rise out of me, no fight and wasn't getting his way. The habit quickly went away. I wouldn't do it with a scared horse or one that wanted to rear.
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