What to do when horse backs up. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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What to do when horse backs up.

Hi there,
My horse doesn't like to go out alone and I'd like to work on that. The other day, I decided to take him out just him and I. My plan was to circle the barn property just outside of the paddock fence lines. I figured it would be a good first step to going out without other horses. He's an excellent trail horse when I ride with someone else. I pushed him through trying to turn around a few times but then he stopped listening. He walked slow, staggered from side to side, and then eventually starting backing up when I asked him to move forward. What the heck do you do when your horse won't move and backs up? Kicking didn't work and my reins were too short to smack him over the shoulders. I bought new reins yesterday so hopefully they will help. They have a slap thing on the end. Any other suggestions? Eventually, I got off and led him to where I wanted him to go.
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:12 PM
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My thinking is, if he wants to back, then by God he's going to back!! Make him back up, and back up fast. Of course keep an eye out behind you, and to not get to the point where he will rear.

May not be the best idea but thats what I have done.
Might want to hear what others say.
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~The Almighty put hoofs on wind, and a bridle on lightning, He then called it horse.~
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:24 PM
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For me, since my mare does have a tendency to rear about backing up (her previous owners were...unsavory), if she starts backing up without my permission, I go into "Go forward NOW!" mode. I make sure to have a crop clipped to the saddle or hanging from the saddle horn at all times so I can easily "get backup". Maybe those reins will do the trick. :)

Personally, I'm not sure I would just have him back up more because I've seen the damage that can do (my mare) and if he's backing up towards "home", he could interpret you telling him to back up towards home as a reward for his behavior.
Of course, the backing up thing does work for some horses and he might not make that connection at all.

I can say that my mare used to have a backing up/rearing fit at least twice a trail ride but now she very rarely has one.
I can't say that was all due to the crop because part of it happened when she started leading trail rides of 12 or more other horses, down a narrow trail. There was no way for her to back up so she had to learn how to deal with whatever issue she was having using a different method.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:25 PM
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If he knows to step away from your leg and under your seat... I make them disengage the hindquarter into a turn on the forehand. And/or will ask them to sidepass.

Why? It is hard work which makes it difficult for them to decide to buck, bolt or rear.

If he doesn't know how to step away from your leg... Teach him from the ground first. By far the most useful thing I have ever found for most situations.
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:32 PM
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I restared a horse who used to bolt backwards when he did not want to work anymore - usually five to ten minutes under saddle.

What I did was to continue to ask for him to back up, well past when he wanted to stop. This was slowly starting to work, right up until one day he bolted backwards into a hot wire fence. We both got zapped and it worked perfectly.

I did have to work with him to get a nice slow backing up, but that was much nicer to deal with then full speed reverse.

I always like to make the wrong action much more work than the right action.

As noted above, you need to get him pointed so that he is not backing up towards home. Side passing is a great way to make them work hard.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:37 PM
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i would say try to get him to circle
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post #7 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:42 PM
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Wasn't exactly what I intended but when my horse was backing up, refusing to go forward and I knew we were about 6" from falling into an irrigation ditch, I smacked him HARD on the neck with the buckle on my short reins and when he jumped, booted him pretty good.... we went forward alright, faster than I wanted but it was forward and not backwards into the ditch!!

Desperate times make for desperate measures I guess! The ditch was overgrown with weeds, so I was pretty sure he had no clue that it was there and I was not about to fall into it as one or both of us would have been needing medical attention.

He hasn't tried backing up to get out of leaving the barn since then.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 01:44 PM
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If you choose to ask a backing horse to back up, do be careful you do not create a rearer. How successful the method is, generally, is directly related to why the horse is running back in the first place.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-08-2012, 02:04 PM
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Yes, as Unicorn said, make sure you are keeping an eye on not letting them get the idea of rearing in their head.
Also, I forgot to type it out, but to get them backing away from home would be a good idea too. As previously stated, get them moving away from home.

A good, slap on the hindquarters may also work, just be ready for the lunge ahead.

~The Almighty put hoofs on wind, and a bridle on lightning, He then called it horse.~
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