How to teach your horse to back-up? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 10-07-2011, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Question How to teach your horse to back-up?

Hello Everyone!
I have a mare who really does not like to back up (on the ground and under saddle.) Ive been trying to teach her to though because I know its very important in regard to respect. She is a very sweet smart mare, just does NOT like to back up... can someone tell me the best way to train her to back up when asked? I know I should probably get it figured out from the ground first. So anyone got a step-by-step plan I could use?
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post #2 of 3 Old 10-07-2011, 10:27 PM
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If you have a knotted halter, use it. If not, put the lunge line chain over her nose. Face the direction you want her to go - look beyond her rump to a tree, post, car, etc. Hold your lead in your left hand and direct it toward the point of her shoulder. Just take the slack out. Ask her to back, using one word and not her name. If she doesn't move pull, don't ever jerk, the lead aiming for her shoulder. Shorten your lead if you have to. The chain has a ittle bite and a horse doesn't usually resist it very long. She may just rock back at first so immediately loosen the pull. Rub her forehead, then ask again. Be patient and she will start to figure out what she is supposted to do. When she understands, she needs to move her back feet, not just the fronts. When you get a few steps, remove the chain and put her away. Repeat the lesson the next day eventually asking for more steps.
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post #3 of 3 Old 10-08-2011, 08:38 AM
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Quite often, horses in some degree of pain will have a hard time backing up - it just hurts to shift the weight and move that way. First thing to check out is a chiropractic, muscle soreness, or saddle fit issue. Even on the ground, a poorly fitting saddle can cause lingering discomfort that make backing up hard. The mouth is a potential spot to check as well - sore teeth can also cause horses to be "disobedient."

From there, I second Saddlebag's method on the ground.

In the saddle, I've found that the way that the rider is sitting makes a huge difference in how the horse responds. Never pull back on the reins to back up - you're only closing the front door, disallowing the horse to come forward. Apply a little leg, and make sure that you are sitting tall. Tip you pelvis forward a bit, putting more of an S-curve in your back than your normal neutral riding position. Ask for a step at a time, rewarding the smallest change and the slightest try, just as on the ground. Doing this, rather than just pulling on the mouth, will help her to come back smoothly, with correct weight distribution, roundness through her topline, and cadence, rather than just inverting and evading backwards.

Good luck!!

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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