Backing up....

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Backing up....

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    03-06-2009, 09:17 PM
Super Moderator
Backing up....

I took Lacey on a trail ride (well, a ride down the road) today since it was beautiful weather and she was amazingly good. It was her first time off my trainer's property since August and she wasn't hardly antsy about leaving all her horsey buddies behind, I wasn't riding alone of course but the other horse was one that she's had very minimal contact, if any, with. She only spooked once when a big dog came bursting out of a grove of trees barking, but I jumped a little too so I don't blame her. =D Anyway, the real problem was that twice she decided she wanted to go back or something and she started backing up very quickly when I squeezed her to go forward. Both times I yanked her head around and started making her walk in super tiny circles until she stopped moving and just gave her head. I did it both directions until she gave in and started walking forwards. I was really surprised that she didn't try to rear which is what usually comes next after she starts backing up... but anyway. Is there a different better way to get her to start moving forwards again? I tried tapping her on the rear with my crop but that just made her back faster... She wasn't scared, she just got away with that sort of "I don't want to do this" behavior with her previous owner and we're slowly working through it. Sorry if this is a giant paragraph of hard to read-ness, my computer hates this site and won't let me come here without a proxy site and the proxy messes it up.
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    03-06-2009, 09:49 PM
It is correct to first try and correct her with leg, and then turn her in a small circle I f that doesn't work. You want to give her a chance to respond to your aids properly, and then need to correct her in a constructive way without making her angry or scared. Because a trail ride for an "arena horse" is a stressful thing already, we want to avoid unnecessary use of force, like a whip or spurs because they may scare or anger the horse more than they would in the horse's normal situation. You are also right that the last thing we want is a rear, which is why as quickly as possible we must get the horse from backwards movement to forwards movement. It is extremely difficult for a horse to rear if they are going forward.
So yes, circles are the correct thing to do, and even put in a transition to trot and back down to walk. Enforce that she must not go backwards unless asked to, and when asked to move forward again, she must oblige, but do it in a tactful way without making her scared or angry.
Good luck!
    03-06-2009, 10:11 PM
Super Moderator
Thanks! Basically what was going on was this: she stopped dead, I squeezed her, she started backing up super fast, I pulled her in a circle, when she stops walking I stopped turning her and asked her to go forward, she starts backing up again, etc etc. A few times she took a step forward and before she started backing again I let her stop and I stroked her neck for about 30 seconds trying to reinforce the forward movement...
    03-06-2009, 10:30 PM
And that's correct. You can't get mad at the horse, or scared for that matter. Just stay really rational and get her to go forward. In the situation where you turn her in a circle and she still stops and back up this is where the trot becomes useful. So scenario and what I would do: horse stops dead, leg on and leave room in the contact for forward movement. Sit balanced and be prepared for leaping in any direction. Horse starts backing up, I open a rein and turn the horse hard onto a circle, then ask for a trot transition and ride a circle 10-15m in diameter and do trot-walk-trot transitions and praise the horse for the forward movement. Go back to walk and continue walking in the direction I was before. If the horse stops dead, I repeat. Eventually the horse will realize that there is no way getting around going forward and that if she ignores your first aid, she's going to have to do some trotting.
    03-06-2009, 10:56 PM
Super Moderator
I'll definitely keep doing what I'm doing then. Thanks anebel! =)
    03-07-2009, 12:20 AM
That's a good idea to try. Sometimes you can get away with saying to the horse "You wanna back up? ME TOO!" and make them back up a lot more than they want to, but in this case I wouldn't do that since she is already backing up fast.

I think the main thing here is to figure out WHY she refused to go forward. That way you can recognize the signs and prevent this kind of thing from happening in the first place. If it was because she just decided she was done, then how can you make time with you so enjoyable that she never even has that thought in the first place? If it was fear, respect her thresholds and don't force her.
    03-07-2009, 01:03 AM
Super Moderator
That's a good point about figuring out why she wouldn't go forward. I'm not really sure. She was pretty darn happy about being out in the "open". She had her ears pricked up (with one flicking back to me quite often), her head was up too but I think that was mainly because she was trying to look around as much as possible, she was really walking it out too (not anxiously jigging or anything just a pretty active walk) and her tail was way up the whole time (she's an Arab so she does that all the time but still) and she was way in the lead most of the time. She might have felt that she had gotten too far ahead of the other horse but even once she was quite a distance behind the other horse (they kept walking to encourage her if she was scared) she would keep backing up. I really don't think she was scared because when she gets scared she gets all breathy and antsy and she won't stop moving, in any direction. Random new thought: Maybe she saw a movement behind the bushes (both times there were bushes/really shadow-y places on one side of the road) and maybe she was concerned and possibly I didn't reassure her quick enough so she felt like "uh oh! There's an incompetent on my back! I better take them home!" or something... And then I asked her to go forward and it turned into Lacey: "you're incompetent, I need to take you home!" Me:"Go forward!" Lacey: "You're getting a little worked up up there, I think we should go" Maybe? Haha
    03-07-2009, 12:05 PM
Great ideas her already! Just wanted to throw mine in! I used to own this mare that would back up when ever she decided that she had had enough. When she started to back up and I would cue her to back up and would make her back up at least 15 paces. She sooned realized that backing her up was getting her out of work, just causing her more work.
    03-07-2009, 02:25 PM
My horse has decided that one half of our indoor arena is "scary", but only sometimes. We'll be riding for 15 or 20 minutes, and then he plain won't go forward if we're going toward the scary end. When we get too close, he backs up fast. My trainer saw it happen once, with the backing up and counter bending, and she made me circle him once and then zig zag him forward. I had to keep him facing the way he didn't want to go, to let him know that the other direction was not an option, but let him move forward in a side-to-side way. That works for us. (The other thing that has really worked well is to longe him with side reins at that end of the arena. He's getting VERY used to that space!)
    03-09-2009, 01:14 AM
Make sure you have a light hand on the rein so you arn't accidently asking her to back. If she is doing it on her own then you can try asking her to back make it seem like that's what you want her to do and she might be willing to go forward then.

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