Pony won't back up undersaddle - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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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!
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 12:52 PM
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Could it be back issues?
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 12:53 PM
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honestly I would probably not focus on it right now. Yes he needs to learn but its only been two months, I would focus on what he is doing well for a while and go back to the backing. He may have some bad memories of someone backing him and it causing him pain because of the bit, etc.

Just my two cents.
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 01:18 PM
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I agree with Ilovemyponies. Don't focus too much on it. You don't want to discourage him.

I generally give even tension on the reins when asking to back up. Alternating moves their head from side to side and I don't like that. When you do try it, when he backs up the one step, praise him like an olympic champion and then do something else. Work with backing spiradically. With some horses, the more you try it, the worse they get. Generally, after he backs one step, move off into his favorite thing, whether a game or whatever. Give him more than a vocal/ human reward. When he gets good at one step, move on to two, if two is too much, go back to one for awhile. It's going to take a lot of time.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 10:50 PM
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I agree with piper182 although, when I ask my pony to back up, I do altrenate from hand to hand, but, I do it so that its gentle pressure backwards on his mouth, making hi m tuck his head, then back up. I don't let his head go side to side. And also, I have trained my pony to back up by waving my legs a bit to the sides when doing this as well as saying back. So now he knows to back by me just waving my legs and telling him back, no pressure anywhere

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 10:56 PM
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I have to disagree with some of the other posters. I think this is a very important training issue. Do you use buttons? On the ground I put pressure on the horse right above his legs and below his head. The horse will back up. To teach backing up, pull on the reins with your hands toward your pockets and put your feet forward. Have someone on the ground push the back up button, saying back. Of course, you want to do this after your horse has mastered the back up button on the ground.

Backing up is not a horse's favorite task. Repeatedly practice.

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post #7 of 14 Old 07-20-2009, 11:03 PM
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[Just asked a dumb question and re-read the OP...disregard this post. *Idiot*]
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-21-2009, 08:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshie View Post
I have to disagree with some of the other posters. I think this is a very important training issue. Do you use buttons? On the ground I put pressure on the horse right above his legs and below his head. The horse will back up. To teach backing up, pull on the reins with your hands toward your pockets and put your feet forward. Have someone on the ground push the back up button, saying back. Of course, you want to do this after your horse has mastered the back up button on the ground.

Backing up is not a horse's favorite task. Repeatedly practice.

Yeah, backing up is important to me because I would like to take this pony into a trail class at the local fair at the end of the summer :) Also, he's just being stubborn, as he backs up quite easily on the ground, with slight pressure by pulling the lead rope down toward his chest - I mean that he will BACK UP - fast, slow, one step, many steps, whatever I ask him. I have asked someone to "push the back up button" on the ground while I am in the saddle, but I need him to get this by himself. I will try everyone's suggestions, and I know this will take time, so I'll just have to be patient.
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-21-2009, 08:39 AM
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Maybe use the halter undersaddle if that is what he is used to??

I think voice commands come in handy, or at least they did for our pony. A good I-mean-it 'sh, sh' worked for him but I don't know what works for you.

I would just continue to use voice commands, personally. Eventually he should catch in.

Most people are like Slinkies; they serve no real purpose, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-21-2009, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryhoudini View Post
Yeah, backing up is important to me because I would like to take this pony into a trail class at the local fair at the end of the summer :) Also, he's just being stubborn, as he backs up quite easily on the ground, with slight pressure by pulling the lead rope down toward his chest - I mean that he will BACK UP - fast, slow, one step, many steps, whatever I ask him. I have asked someone to "push the back up button" on the ground while I am in the saddle, but I need him to get this by himself. I will try everyone's suggestions, and I know this will take time, so I'll just have to be patient.
Well, I wouldn't be patient. Every single time I rode this horse I would do this ten or 15 times before I did anything else. I'd do it periodically during my ride. Personally, I like snaffle bits, no harsher ones so that's what I'd use. Consistency is really important. Your horse really needs to respect you too.

Are you absolutely sure you wanna mess with my carrots?
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