Backing Up.

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Backing Up.

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    07-03-2011, 06:19 PM
Backing Up.

I used to have Savanna backing up pretty nicely, with her head down, although she'd back kind of slowly. Yesterday I took her on some trails at the new place where I board, and she kind of caught me off guard and jumped into some thick trees, so I stopped her and was trying to back her up and she wouldn't have it. She kept shaking her head and her nose was in the air and her mouth was wide open. Today I rode her in the arena and would walk, stop, attempt to back (sad attempts, at that... she would only take a few steps back and even then she was fighting) and repeat.

I always ask with my hands low, and I gently squeeze the reins and bump with my legs. I want her to back-up somewhat quickly with her neck rounded as opposed to slow baby steps with her nose in the air and her mouth gaping. I have asked her on the ground as well, that's where we started, and she is even pushy in her halter when it comes to backing up.

Anyone have some good techniques on the ground and / or saddle that I can apply? Thanks in advance!
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    07-03-2011, 06:53 PM
Talk to your trainer.
    07-03-2011, 07:08 PM
I really found that my posture made or broke Scout's back-up. If I'm lazy or sloppy, then I get inversion and resistance, complete with the gapping mouth and nose in the air. If I'm meticulous in my execution, he nearly dances backwards.

Really think about sitting up and looking up and forward. Let your chest fill out just as if you were going to move forward, but gently block the horse from moving that direction with your hands. Another little position tweak that I found helped reinforce that idea of closing of the front door was to tilt my pelvis forward slightly from the position I sit when moving off at a walk, trot, or canter. If I need them, I'll apply my legs to start the movement, but once the horse is traveling backwards with rhythm I go back to neutral legs and use one side at a time to keep him from drifting or to steer him.
    07-03-2011, 07:15 PM
Excellent technical explanation from Scoutrider. For some reason many people lean back for the back up which is entirely unnatural.

You mentioned your new yard. How long has your horse been there? Is it a recent move?

Secondly have you checked the saddle, any possible hinder loin issues? To back correctly means bringing the hind under and often shows any issues with stiffness or pain.
    07-04-2011, 12:55 AM
Thanks for the advice :) I don't "lean back" when I ask her to back - I drop my hips and make a "heavy seat" when I ask her to stop, but it's all in my hips, and I don't move my upper body. When I ask her to back, I squeeze and barely bump with my legs till she starts moving (which usually takes a while..) and then do pulsations with my hands instead of a constant pressure (although I've tried both ways). She will yield to the bit and pull in her head, but not move. Or, she'll evade the bit by putting her nose upward and *maybe* moving backward. Actually, yeah; that's what her backup is: one big evasion. It's sloppy and it's not like I'm asking her to do anything. She's just trying to get away from the pressure.

No saddle problems, she's never been stiff, we always warm up and cool down properly and do a lot of flexing. She's very soft in her mouth until it comes to backing. No problems stopping her from a walk, trot, or canter. I just really want her to dig in and backup deliberately.
    07-04-2011, 01:24 AM
I just loved Scoutrider's explanation of the slightly counterintuitive way that you must have your body; NOT leaning back but rather having the hips ever so slightly angled forward. WhY? To make an openning under your seat so that the horse can come up under you with their back, which will naturally occur if the step back under by lifting their feet, rather than draggin them from a stiff and inverted back.

IN any case, back to you and YOUR situation; one thing that you can do to break up a horse that is resistant to backing it to use one rein much more than the other. Start asking to the backup with two reins, your body and light, alternaiting legs (alternating IF she is actually moving backward, so they follow her barrel), . Have one rein be slightly more active than the other and look for your horse to have a little flex in the jaw toward that side. If she only braces or throws her head up, then take in THAT rein and create a bigger bend , so that she is effectively backing in a circle. This will disengage her hind quarters. WHY? To break her out. She gets stuck and if you fight her with more even pressure, she will just brace evenly. But pulling her on one rein only will break her out. Once she has disengaged, you probably will feel her head come down momentarily. Ease off everything, then reposition for another try. Don't worry if she is no longer backing in the direction you want to go. ALL that mattters is that she back up when asked. So, ask again, lightly with one rein a bit more active than the other, and if she reisists, take her into a backup circle. If she thinks about backing up and you feel it, give a tiny release, a praise and then reask.

Also, try more work backing her on the ground , while facing her and while standing by her side. If she has trouble on the ground, be sure that there is now comfort issue involved. Being unable to back up is a sign of chiropractic problems, though I am by no means saying this is your case.

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