Horse backing up on trail
I am wondering what the correct approach to a horse that refuses to go forward by backing up? That is, in an area that isn't safe to continue backing up or turn around very well in.....like a trail on a hill with rocks etc.
When she does this, I will continue pushing her forward starting with the sitting forward, squeeze and cluck....then I go to more squeeze and a kick....but sometimes you can start to run out of room when you are backing into a bush etc.
I could use advice on this too.
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My lazy mare will occasionally try this and what has worked for her is when she decides she not going forward we do hard, fast and tight circles. I'm not nice or easy about it, I make it work! I do this the second she decides not to move forward. I had previously tried a crop, kicking etc but got nothing but more backing up. Sometimes we do in fact go off the trail a bit but I just keep her circling and then ask for the forward movement directly out of the circle. The first time she tried this it took forever and we were both exhausted but eventually she decided to go forward. Now if she occasionally tries to pull that I need only do one or maybe two circles and she moves right out. Just is what works for her and I but you could possibly try it? I just make it harder to NOT go forward then it is to just relent and move out.
I can agree with the above advice, if there is room to turn the horse in a very tight circle, but the OP says there is not room for that.
As far as the horse backing into a bush, let her. if she gets herself a pinch on the fanny, she'll want to go forward more.
Try working with her on it where there is room... So you can work on it, see what will push her to not want to go foreward in a space with lots of room, and when she backs up go "Oh, you want to back up? Okay, lets back up!" and lean back, and pull your rains back hard so she has to back up fast and hard for at least 10 steps, or at least till she gives in to the bit.
Also it's possible she's backing up because she's afraid. If this is the case, when she stops let her stand there for a minute to check out her surroundings. If she wants to take a step foreword of sniff something, let her, it's building her confidence. After standing for a minute ask for another step. If she wants to back up let her take a step or two back, but don't let her turn another direction with her front or rear end. Then ask her for another step. Repeat this and it will build her confidence, and her trust in you. If it is fear, then there is a threshold, and she's too scared to cross it, so you need to help her cross it
I think this is one of those "1 question, 40 answers" questions. :wink:
My Lacey girl used to try this one (still thinks about it if she gets really overstimulated - it all basically stems from how weirdly her previous owners treated her, she actually ended up rearing up+over with one of them while doing this "trick") and if I tried circling or pushing her on with just my legs, she'd start side-stepping or continue backing up and the end result was some major rearing. Shed just rear and rear until I got off or stopped asking her to do whatever I was asking her to do.
There were/are two things that work with her:
a crop - it turned out that at her previous home, no one had apparently tried using a crop to solve this one! So that option was luckily not broken.
I got a short crop, made a little clip for it (so I could attach it to the saddle and only "magically" have it when she was acting up), attached it to my saddle, and took her out on a trail ride. I acted the way I always did, except that as soon as I felt her start to balk, I put my reins in one hand+loosened them up in case she jumped forward, and smacked her a good hard one on the booty with the crop (if there had been any question of whether she was going to continue on, I wouldn't have smacked her but at that point any balking was leading to "fun" so I didn't give her any lee-way).
She lept forward and we kept on our way quite happily. I remember being so surprised at how relaxed she was, post-smack. Apparently she really didn't care about precisely not going forward, she just wanted to pull a trick on me! Arabs! :lol:
I might have had to smack her a couple more times after that but those times became rarer and rarer. I still generally carry a crop on my saddle, just in case, but it's very very rare that I ever even pick it up. Usually it's just a "cool" accessory (it's purple and sparkly, hahahah).
riding on a very narrow trail with 7+ horses behind us - this isn't an option for most people, but pretty much directly after I got her out of the habit of this backing up junk, I got the chance to work at a summer camp leading trail rides. Lacey was my lead horse so she was leading day in and day out. If she tried backing up: "cool story bro, that horse behind you doesn't like your butt in his face so he's going to bite you in the butt!"
The trails were so narrow that there was no turning around and that horse behind her was a really good motivator to keep forward motion.
After that summer of trail rides (2 years ago), I think she's tried the backing up thing maybe twice and I was always ready with the crop. She hasn't tried it once in probably a year and a half. Same with the rearing; no more balking=no more rearing.
Good luck! I know how frustrating this little habit can be!!
Funny how no one mentioned the simplest of cures; the crop!
I use a dressage whip and mostly I don't even hit Zulu if he balks., I hit my own foot, but the sound is enough to get him to change his mind.
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