Can't get horse to back undersaddle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Can't get horse to back undersaddle

Pretty much Mitch knows how to back up haltered up and does it easily, sometimes he won't listen but a light brush over his chest along with the normal aids and he goes back for me, put on a bridle and it took about 10 minutes for him to back up for me, the first few times I brushed his chest and he backed up for me fine after that. I let the pressure of the reins go as soon as he steps backwards also. All this is from the ground and he does it fine, it's just under saddle that we have problems.

Under saddle I use firm (but not hard) pressure evenly on the reins and usually very slight pressure on his sides, but the one and only time I have managed to get him to step back under saddle was when I took my feet out of the stirrups and put my legs way forwards, almost brushing the front of his shoulders. Any other way he will not go backwards.

Is this just purely a training issue or could there be an physical problem? He is having trouble on the left rein in a circle at trot/canter undersaddle and lunging, so out comes the chiropractor hopefully next week (Mitch scrambled a bit getting out of the float on sunday) dentist and farrier are also out next week so here goes the royal treatment for him .

If it is not a physical issue, then how should I go about training him to back under saddle? I have had mum brush his chest for me while I am giving signals in the saddle, but apart from the one time I haven't been able to get him to back up without another person helping from the ground, and it's starting to frustrate me... Because I can't really open gates on the farm on him if he won't back undersaddle... and getting on and off a 16.1-16.2 horse every 4-5 minutes isn't really ideal for me.

R.I.P ~ Bubbles - 25yo tb mare - 13.04.2011 ~ 8:30am ~ passed away naturally and peacefully in my arms
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 01:56 PM
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This seems to be a problem for quite a few posters these days.

You have to think of backing up as a forward movement. You drive the horse forward with seat and legs and block that forward energy with your reins. The horse has no where to go with that forward energy except backwards. The second he makes one step back you release all the aids. You cannot pull a horse backwards.

I teach them with a verbal "back" on the ground and use the word "back" with all the other aids (seat, legs, rein) undersaddle. If you release the aids before he "tries" you have just trained him to ignore your aids.
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 02:03 PM
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Backing up IS a forward movement.
MY WORDS EXACTLY, Sahara--Well PUT!!! (you are now my new bff)
@HollyBubbles, you need to teach this from the ground FIRST. I taught my 5 yo gelding to back really well last winter by integrating it in his everyday routine. He learned "walk on", "halt", "back" (in different order each time so he couldn't anticipate it) every time we went from his stall to turnout. You use pressure with the word, release, then praise. Then you translate it under saddle. Also, it doesn't help to have your horse back with a steady pull of the reins. You need Sahara's advice, and you give the same release as you did on the ground. Otherwise, in the future (when you put your friends on your horse to ride) somebody may hang on the reins and panic when you horse continues to back.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 05:09 PM
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Have someone on the ground give his familiar "brushing" cue, or whatever it is he knows, while you ask him to back from the saddle.
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post #5 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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He knows the command verbally and responds to that well on the ground. We practise this every day whether I ride or not, so he's got it down from the ground, the past week or so he hasn't needed any brushing on the chest from the ground.

I can put the bridle on and get him to back from the ground with that, without the chest brushing now, and I always release the pressure as soon as he takes a step back.

I never release the aids undersaddle if he doesn't take a step backwards, when I try it undersaddle I always have someone with me to brush his chest if I can't get him to back up first, and after over two months of doing this he still won't back up undersaddle without help.

Every now and again he leans back like he's about to take a step backwards, but he won't actually take the step, what should I do when he leans back but won't take the step?

R.I.P ~ Bubbles - 25yo tb mare - 13.04.2011 ~ 8:30am ~ passed away naturally and peacefully in my arms
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 07:22 PM
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Use more leg pressure. That might mean alternately bumping heels against him or bumping together....whatever works. Now you have to get past his mental block that if he waits it out you will eventually give up. Up the pressure until you get a response. You may have to exaggerate all your aids. Sit tall in the saddle, don't lean forward at all and hold the reins steady and bump bump bump with your legs till he makes an effort to move back. When he does, praise the daylights out of him and move on to something else.

Do you have any control over his hips? Can you yield his hindquarters? You might try doing that and move directly in to backing so he doesn't have sticky feet.
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-11-2011, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sahara View Post
Use more leg pressure. That might mean alternately bumping heels against him or bumping together....whatever works. Now you have to get past his mental block that if he waits it out you will eventually give up. Up the pressure until you get a response. You may have to exaggerate all your aids. Sit tall in the saddle, don't lean forward at all and hold the reins steady and bump bump bump with your legs till he makes an effort to move back. When he does, praise the daylights out of him and move on to something else.

Do you have any control over his hips? Can you yield his hindquarters? You might try doing that and move directly in to backing so he doesn't have sticky feet.
Thankyou, will try that this afternoon hopefully. I'm always a bit worried that he will go up instead of backwards, he hasn't ever done that yet but my old horse used to go up when she didn't want to go back so that always plays on my mind a bit. Didn't matter whether it was me riding or someone else if she had enough she went up.

Not yet no, I don't think that has ever been established with him as far as I know but I would like to teach him and be able to do it. We're working through things slowly :)

R.I.P ~ Bubbles - 25yo tb mare - 13.04.2011 ~ 8:30am ~ passed away naturally and peacefully in my arms
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-13-2011, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
I'm always a bit worried that he will go up instead of backwards, he hasn't ever done that yet but my old horse used to go up when she didn't want to go back so that always plays on my mind a bit. Didn't matter whether it was me riding or someone else if she had enough she went up.
Please keep in mind here that a first "response" isn't necessarily a step. All movements follow this initial awareness. Mind, flexion, shift/weight, feet.
It will help you immensely and your horse if you set yourself up in the position to ask your horse to back, keep your hands still and soften when the mind is touched. Then, set yourself up again and go for mind, flexion. Obviously, you continue. The benefits here are that you will find the horse is given time to assess the request and whether or not he wants to comply and instead of ladder-rung jumping (ie: demanding a step) it builds the movement and relieves the two of you from the need to go up.
Don't just say backup when you haven't the beginning requirements for that movement.


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post #9 of 12 Old 10-13-2011, 06:42 PM
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what are you doing with your body while in the saddle ? it can sometimes help to lean forward slightly when asking them to back

Gypsy & Scout <3
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-13-2011, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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I generally sit tall in the saddle, I've tried leaning forwards but he takes that as a cue to go forwards so I stopped doing that.

R.I.P ~ Bubbles - 25yo tb mare - 13.04.2011 ~ 8:30am ~ passed away naturally and peacefully in my arms
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