Backing Up
 
 

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Backing Up

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  • Should you sponge both reins

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  • 1 Post By Scoutrider

 
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    05-08-2012, 06:44 PM
  #1
Weanling
Backing Up

Hi, tips on teaching a horse to back up? He knows how to do it on the ground. He goes two steps but needs a lot of pressure on his mouth and cues and even if I sit way in the saddle he doesn't go back, I got this horse 1 week ago and he was a little spiffy on backing at the place but he wasn't bad, we just need to make it a little better.
     
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    05-08-2012, 07:14 PM
  #2
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent    
Hi, tips on teaching a horse to back up? He knows how to do it on the ground. He goes two steps but needs a lot of pressure on his mouth and cues and even if I sit way in the saddle he doesn't go back, I got this horse 1 week ago and he was a little spiffy on backing at the place but he wasn't bad, we just need to make it a little better.

I would spend some more time with him on the ground. Start by placing the crook of your arm on his nose while facing him/her (arm extended to your left) slowing apply pressure and this should force the horse the move backwards. I also associate the word "back" while doing this. Work with this for a bit and then move to using the lead rope in the same way. Once you've spent some time on the ground use these same queues while in the saddle by pulling back on the reins as the first queue and giving the "back" as the second queue. With some time and work you horse may respond to the "back" queue with very little back pressure on the reins.
     
    05-08-2012, 10:22 PM
  #3
Foal
When I first got my 4 year old he didn't back up very well either, but my trainer said to sit down in the saddle like you are asking for a stop, and hold the reins (don't pull, just hold) and squeeze your legs. If that doesn't work for you, then I would suggest getting someone at a barn of yours or something to help you figure out your horse's buttons. Good luck!
     
    05-09-2012, 09:02 AM
  #4
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crescent    
Hi, tips on teaching a horse to back up? He knows how to do it on the ground. He goes two steps but needs a lot of pressure on his mouth and cues and even if I sit way in the saddle he doesn't go back, I got this horse 1 week ago and he was a little spiffy on backing at the place but he wasn't bad, we just need to make it a little better.
All the mouth pressure in the world isn't going to improve your back-up. What you need to do with your hands is tricky to describe in words, but I'll give it a try. All you want to do is close the door, and that should take almost no real pressure. Assuming a snaffle bit (1:1 pressure ratio, no shanks), you want to have your reins short enough to take the slack out. No pulling, but no slack either. You're holding his hand. That is "neutral." To close the door with your hands, all you want to do is squeeze -- imagine the reins in your hands as two sponges, and you're squeezing the water out; no backwards pull required. I find that, with a curb bit (i.e., neck reining) a slight upward lift of the rein hand accomplishes much the same blocking effect, but I'd strongly recommend a snaffle until you both get really solid in the back-up if at all humanly possible.

Why no pulling? Because you want the horse to stay soft, round, and forward through the movement. Any degree of pulling is going to make him resistant and defensive about his mouth -- he'll gap his mouth open, crank his head and neck up and back, drop/invert his spine, and adopt a posture that is going to make it physically much harder for him to back up at all, much less do it promptly, smoothly, and comfortably. If he acts really confused, a slight pull might be necessary to help him focus backwards and get the ball rolling, but you need to make your point and go right back to that softly blocking hand.

Next thing is to think about your seat -- your weight distribution is honestly going to tell your horse more clearly what you want than any amount of fiddling with the reins will. What you want to do is use your leg aids to ask him to move forward, but use your seat and weight to direct that forward motion in a backward direction. Make sense? You're closing the door with your seat as well as with your hands. The best way I can describe to actually do that is to tilt your pelvis forward, putting more of an S-bend in your back. I've heard this referred to as a "******ing seat" by some folks. Contrast to a "driving seat," in which the pelvis tilts back, flattening the line of the back, which would direct all that wonderful forward energy ahead.

Upper body position can also make heaps of difference. Look straight ahead, even up a little bit, not down at his neck, and puff your chest out -- imagine that you're both just filling up with energy, and your hands and seat are gently directing it backwards. When he takes a step back, relax, stop your blocking aids (go immediately back to "neutral" hands and seat), and pet him like he just invented chocolate. Reward the smallest change and the slightest try. He'll surprise you with how quickly he improves.

Hope that makes sense and is helpful to you! Good luck!
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    05-09-2012, 09:07 AM
  #5
Weanling
Thank you so much scoutrider that helps alot.
     
    05-10-2012, 08:39 PM
  #6
Trained
Not sure what 'spiffy' means - thinking it means good? So if he did it well for his last owner, chances are he's been taught how to, at least basically. It also sounds like you're getting what you ask for a step or 2, which is a great start. You just need to reinforce it - let him know he's done Right - rather than try to drag more from him.

I think the above is good advice, but will give my take on what is effective. Firstly I'd make sure he's really soft & responsive to direct pressure on the ground. Then I tend to teach basic ridden rein cues from on the ground first too. Eg. Stand beside him, holding both reins at his wither, so you can cue approx the same as when riding.

When you first start riding, it may be best to have someone leading him to begin with, to back up your requests if he doesn't understand, because if he won't back up, chances are his slowing & stopping isn't great either, which can be dangerous. I'd also make certain it's not a saddlefit or other discomfort issue, as trying to just train something into them that they can't or won't do for physical reasons will only make matters worse.

I want my horses to ultimately follow a 'feel' and my subtle seat cues, so that is where I begin my 'ask', building the degree of 'request' or pressure to do it gradually but consistently, so they learn what to respond to, to avoid actual pressure. Therefore I'd start asking by sort of dropping in the saddle, as in stopping/slowing, but without dropping my energy. If/when he doesn't get that, I'd back it up by raising my hands, gradually taking the slack out & getting firmer with the pressure. If I were by myself, I'd increase the pressure. Gradually, to make it uncomfortable for him, but hold there, not try to pull or increase to a painful level. If I had a helper, I'd get as far as taking the slack out & that's where they'd start asking from the ground to back it up.

Most importantly, you want to make the Right things easy & reinforce them. Think about him being in preschool - you're wanting to teach counting from one to ten, not expect addition yet, let alone algebra. You need to reward his tries & start with the very basics. Start at the level you think he can give & build gradually from there. Even if you have to start by reinforcing him for just softening & shifting his weight back, get him reliable & confident about that before asking for more, in baby steps. I like to reinforce them both negatively - by instantly removing the pressure - and positively - reward with something Good, be that a rub or scratch if he likes that, or food treat or such.
     
    05-11-2012, 11:11 AM
  #7
Showing
Hmm, seems to me I ask for forward movement but block it with the bridle. My back is slightly rounded (slumped) and I switch my mental picture to what is behind me. Horse backs up as I continue to ask for forward movement with my legs.
     
    05-13-2012, 10:34 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
Hmm, seems to me I ask for forward movement but block it with the bridle. My back is slightly rounded (slumped) and I switch my mental picture to what is behind me. Horse backs up as I continue to ask for forward movement with my legs.
Great that you've recognised the details of what you do! So it shouldn't take much of a change to work out how to ask for backwards rather than forward & so not have to 'block' with reins for the conflicting signal.
     

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