Very intolerant of backing at a quicker pace

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Very intolerant of backing at a quicker pace

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    09-27-2013, 04:16 PM
Very intolerant of backing at a quicker pace

My gelding is a very forward horse and we've been working on our backing both on the ground and in the saddle. He does ok with constant pressure but I'd like him to be ok and comfortable with it by asking without constant pressure. It takes me really getting on him for him to move, and if I ask him to back a little faster he pins his ears and acts agitated and frustrated wanting me to stop. I get after him hard lunging him around at a lope when he gets to that level since I don't want him to think he has the upperhand, but I'm unsure if I should still push him to back when he's showing signs of acting out against me.

Would it be better if I took a few steps back and kept working him slowly a few steps at a time until he's solid and understanding and comfortable with it? Or is it better to push him through it even though he doesn't like it?

He's a dominant left brain extrovert, but besides speed control he's had no major issues, and is polite on the ground. Just unsure of the best and safest way to find a decent reverse button on him.
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    09-27-2013, 04:30 PM
Do you use backing as punishment/correction? He may be misunderstanding and thinking he's being punished.

How are you asking him to back on the ground?
How are you asking under saddle?
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Corporal likes this.
    09-27-2013, 04:36 PM
Green Broke
Sounds like he is being a brat. Many horses aren't fans of going backwards because they can see directly behind them. To soften him up ask him to go backwards gently. If he doesn't want to MAKE him go backwards. As soon as he takes two steps release all pressure!! Let him walk forward, stop and back again. You want him to connect the gentle cue with "asking" and the not so gentle cue as a correction. Just as if you were going to ask a horse to move forward, you use a light cue/voice. If there is no response you move to something firmer, like a kick or a crop. Give them the opportunity to listen the first time, if not make them sorry they didn't listen the second time.

DON'T demand a lot either. If he backs one foot with light contact, GOOD JOB! Just keep building on it. In a few days one step will be two. In a few weeks two steps will be 5.

Also, work backing into you regular routine. Trot around, stop, back a step. Lope, stop back a step. Circle, walk, back. Don't just pick a specific time to focus on it, make it just another thing you practice.
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TwistedSerpent and dlady like this.
    09-27-2013, 04:47 PM
Super Moderator
From the saddle you should never kick or use a crop to ask a horse to back up - those are tools/cues for asking a horse to go forwards and if you're pulling on his head and kicking at the same time he's going to be totally confused and likely to end up going upwards
If your horse has learnt 'back up' from the ground - which is the best way to teach them, then when you ask from the saddle your legs should do no more than ask him to lift his leg and then you immediately remove that pressure and at that point you resist with your hand and that asks him to put that leg behind him and not in front
Ask for one step at a time, use the command 'back' and if you 'cluck' then you can use that as well, when he responds praise him - but don't expect him to do more than he feels confident about to start with - that will come as you progress
Horses have a built in fear of going backwards because they can't see whats behind them so you have to build up his trust in you.
TwistedSerpent likes this.
    09-27-2013, 05:02 PM
Many times it is a strength issue or indicative of a stifle issue if the horse does not want to back with large steps.

When we begin teaching the rein back, we reward small steps and as the horse progresses in his training and builds strength, we can then ask for him to back taking larger steps, thus moving faster. If any backwards motion is making the horse uncomfortable or you notice his stifles "jumping" with backwards motion - it's time to call a vet. If not then it's simply teaching the horse that he gets a reward for doing as you ask. If you ask him to back up and then wail on him when he moves (because he's not going fast enough) it's going to end up ingrained in his brain that it's a bad thing. All training is progressive. Start from 0 and build up to 100. You can't expect a horse to do a spin, scale a mountain or cut a cow on the first day.
TwistedSerpent likes this.
    09-27-2013, 07:14 PM
I don't think I mentioned the main issue is on the ground. The only time he gets backed for a correction is usually just to reposition him if he walks off without me after a whoa, done with seat and legs with rein backup if needed. He does it alright but without speed.

On the ground I start off nicely by wiggling the lead line then increase pressure waving with rope and stick, then proceed bumping in the chest. He takes his first few steps without much fight, they're just very slow steps. I was asking for a few quicker steps when the problems came with the increased pressure, or if I ask him to back more then 5 or so steps.
He's usually very quick to pick up on things so I think I was just pushing him too fast out of his safe zone, but my worry is he's putting up a fight and by taking steps back to ease him into it and avoiding his frustration is a way of letting him win and not fixing the issue, just avoiding it.

I feel bad about it for being in his face, and hope he doesn't resent me for pushing him that far, this has been our first major hiccup together.

I haven't noticed any hopping or physical distress but I will pay close attention to it.
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    09-27-2013, 07:43 PM
Green Broke
He may just be a cautious backer... A woman who board her horse at my barn as a larger appy that literally takes 30+ steps to back out of a 2 horse straight load. I wonder if he has every backed into something and been traumatized. A hole? A fence? An electric wire?
    09-28-2013, 12:40 AM
I have no idea, unless he's done it to himself or someone before I got him, I have never backed him into anything scary.
    09-28-2013, 01:27 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by TwistedSerpent    
I have no idea, unless he's done it to himself or someone before I got him, I have never backed him into anything scary.
Yeah, I would assume he probably did it by himself. Or he is just naturally scared.

When he won't back is he giving you any signs of domination? Pinning ears, the angry face? Or does he look afraid, head high, wide eyes? Unless he is extremely dominant he should go back with aggressive shaking on the rope and whacking his chest. I work with a pretty thick headed dominant type mare who used to give me the 'tude. She quickly changed her mind after a firm ground work session on who was running the show! If it was a dominance think I bet he would be displaying it in other areas and I bet he would be a PITA to handle.
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    09-28-2013, 02:00 AM
Does backing into a blue barrel count as scary?!! LOL! I just thought I'd throw that in there since just today I was backing my 16.2H thoroughbred cross (and he is not the greatest at it but he's willing) and duh, I back him right into one of my blue plastic barrels. He just about jumped out of his skin and lunged forward like he was being attacked. MY BAD! LOL! Then he actually turned around to see what got him. Goober. We both recovered and went right back to another back up. He was fine. Just a "duh" moment. :)

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