Pony won't back up undersaddle
Hello All! I've been working with my new pony, Harry, for just over 2 months now, and he has made incredible progress. We dabble in some Parelli groundwork, and I now have him listening to walk, trot, and whoa commands on the lunge line, as well as turns on the forehand and hindquarter, and backing up. He is also responding extremely well to voice commands under saddle, pretty much mimicking what he does on the ground - except for the back.
He will not back up undersaddle. I have tried riding in a bosal, a 3 piece french link snaffle, a hackamore, his halter, you name it. The most he has ever backed up was a step, and only 2 times (of the dozens of times we've tried it). I have tried asking for the back, and then when he throws his head up high in the air and refuses, worked him in circles till we were both dizzy :), then asked again but no improvement. I have also tried having someone on the ground cue the back as I cue from the saddle, and this seems to work the best, but the second someone is not re-enforcing the command from the ground he becomes a statue with his nose pointing to the sky. When I cue him to back, I sit deep in the saddle, give him a little tap with my heels, say "BACK", and put alternating pressure on the reins (pressure from the left rein, then the right). What am I doing wrong? How can I help him understand?
A bit of background on Harry - for the last 2 years before I got him, he was ridden in an extremely harsh curb bit and it really messed up his palate. So even though he's been checked by the dentist and given the all clear to wear a bit, he's pretty poorly behaved (mouth gaping, chewing the bit) when ridden with any type of bit, even his mild snaffle. And when I use his sidepull to ask him to back, when he throws up his head it pushes the noseband too far up his face, into his eyes, and that causes a whole new set of problems :)
Hope you guys can help us out!