How to train your horse to back up?

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How to train your horse to back up?

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    07-06-2011, 04:01 AM
How to train your horse to back up?

How would one go about training their mare to do this? I realized a little while ago that my girl, Lark, doesn't understand to back up with a rider on her back. She's got it down on the ground, I just push on her chest a bit and back she goes without a problem. So I was wondering if anyone had any pointers (or step-by-step instructions! ) on how to translate this action for her.

Any help is greatly appreciated!
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    07-06-2011, 04:24 AM
Green Broke
In simple terms, put some a few pounds of pressure on her mouth and calmly say the word, "Baaaaack, baaaaack...". Not enough pressure to cause a head throwing rage, but enough that it annoys her. Use a snaffle bit for this phase. Eventually, finding no other way to alleviate the discomfort, she will take a step back. If she tosses her head, goes forward, sideways, or anything else, keep that same pressure -- no more, no less. You want this to be a clear aid to back and nothing else will do. Sit quietly on her back, well balanced and not leaning forward. Once you feel a leg take a step backwards, throw down you reins. BIG RELEASE and praise!

Keep on doing this until she will step back once readily when you ask. Eventually ask for two steps. Every step she takes, release pressure for a moment as a reward and continue asking her to back with soft vibrations of the reins.
    07-06-2011, 06:27 AM
From a walk, do whatever you do to get her to stop, then once she stops keep whatever aid you used to stop applied and squeeze with your legs.

So basically just stop then drive the horse into the stopping aid. Works very nicely for me. Initially the horse may be confused, so you may have to increase the stopping aid a bit, but it should come together quickly if the horse already respects the stopping aid and the going aid.

Also avoid simply pulling the horse back, the rein just gives the direction and the leg/seat is what gives you the movement. If you just use your hand for the backup the horse will be more apt to lean and be heavy which will compromise your ability to collect the horse.
    07-06-2011, 11:09 AM
More or less what christopher said.

Believe it or not, backing up is a forward movement, so you need to remember not to restrict with your hand... Just like when you are moving forward.

When I first teach the horse to back up, I sit deep, still, and a little back (also my halt aid), when the horse halts, I will apply a little leg (one at a time) and correct any step forward by repeating the halt aid, then starting over. If this really isn't working for the horse, I may close my hand a little... But not so much that I am pulling on a rein.
    07-06-2011, 02:35 PM
Does she understand how to back on the ground with the bit in her mouth? Or just w a halter on?
    07-06-2011, 03:43 PM
Super Moderator
Using your finger to press into her chest should be a backup aid to the primary aid , which is either pulling back on the leadline or the rein (even if she is on the ground) If you only use your finger to teach backup, how would she know that the rein means back up in the saddle.

Of course, as above posters said, you dont' really pull her back but rather close the front door and then ask for Movement. You can in the beginning add a little more backward "suggestion" with the bit and when you feel her rock her body backward, it's her asking, "do you mean this?". That's when you release a wee bit, but don't throw open the front door.
Also, you THINK back. Imagin you are the horse and you need to move your four feet backward, one at a time. Really think "I am going to walk backward" you'd be amazed at what a difference it makes if you really think about the movement you are asking the horse to do. You will subconciously do this movement with your body and the horse will follow you.
    07-06-2011, 10:35 PM
While your on her, you can tap her chest with a crop while using whatever cue you want her to back up to. Since just poking her on the ground works it should work to tap her with a crop too
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