Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: The land of Enchantment
On a youngster, long before they go under saddle, I back them a lot by holding the lead and gently asking them to lower their head w down and back pressure, following their head down as they give. No forcing. So you end up sorta bent over w them and their head lowered, and the rope between the halter and your hand becomes somewhat "parrallel" to the ground...Continueing the whole time w the gentle pressure, back them, releasing the pressure as they back - but hold position. One step is fine at first. They will quickly easily go more than a few steps. This is a "slow action" sort of thing and takes patience at first, and you have to really pay attention to the pressure you are using, and their "give". Once they can do this in one smooth motion, I move to backing in hand without bend downing w the same "straight back" pressure on the lead using very gentle force, patiently waiting for a response and release. How quickly they master this in smooth motion just depends on the horse, there is no "race" to get "there". It makes it very "fair" for them to understand when asked to back under saddle in a bit or hackamore. I imagine you can do the same w one that is already started under saddle.
There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.