Oh dear... what to do?
Well, I have three horses that I have been ridding since August 2008. One of these mares is an 11 year old QH mare that has belonged to my family since she was a yearling. She was trained at 3 years of age and ridden only on trail rides and pastures near by for about 6 years. Then she was turned out to pasture as a broodmare and has not been ridden much but maybe 1 time a year. My sister owns the mare now and has her in the same town which I live. I really only get a chance to ride this mare maybe 1 time a week, which heavily depends on the weather and if I get off before dark.
Well, I started working with this mare trying to work her back into condition for a trail ride that is coming up in April. I have only been able to work with her about 6 times since October 2008, but when I finished I felt very positive that we had a connection. Yesterday the weather got up to nearly 75 degrees in Oklahoma and I rode this mare. On the lunge line she response beautifully to the cues and gives me no problems. While being saddle she stands quietly and gives no fuss. When I put the bridle in her mouth she takes it with ease, no chomping at the bit. Being mounted she stands quietly. When asked to walk out she responds. She neck reins very well and stops at the whoa and even will respond to the cue to go into a trot.
*** This is where I am heading to.***
When I ask this mare to back up, at first she fights me a little :-(, raises her head and then puts it into gear and backs quickly. Then we ride around a little more and I ask her again to back again. She repeatedly will keep her nose raised and neck stretched out when I ask her to back and then after I continue to ask her she finally will back with no problems expect keeping her head raised. She will not flex at the poll or bring her nose down :evil: which is the way I am cueing her to back. I have tried a couple of different excursuses to try to get her to bring that nose down but so I have been unlucky. Other than this one thing, this mare is very nice to ride, except she is a spoiled brat!
You ever tried to ride her without a bit and see if that helps?
Have her teeth been floated lately? If she has hooks, then that could cause her not to respond and be evasive.
Also have you checked saddle fit? For a lot of the horses I've ridden this what many of them do when asked to back with an ill fitting saddle, even when they seem to move out well the rest of the time. I'd ask about her teeth but Piggypablo already did.
She's being snotty. :lol: I'd back her from the ground some more and get her comfortable with you... Backing is very much a trust issue since they can't see where they are going. She's not new to this and of course I hope her teeth are in good condition (always something to check) But to me, she sounds like she just simply "Doesn't Wanna" (horsey pouting :lol:)
Keep at it. She should chill out a tad with more practice. Keep us updated.
I watch behind me and just keep the pressure on until they lower their head (even a little bit). Let them keep backing up because that is not the response you are asking for, you want her to lower her head. Make sure that there are no obstacles behind you that could cause her to trip or fall and just let her back up until she figures out that she needs to drop her head. It will take some time but just keep being consistent and remember to reward the instant that she lowers her head even the slightest bit. Give her some time and don't get discouraged or frustrated.
How are you asking her to back up?
I hope I can describe this corretly.
I set my heels down and out, lean back in the saddle a little, and try to get the mare to disingage the hind quarters. Then I lead into asking with a low pull, near my knee on the reins (which is to indicate for tucking the nose in).
I have checked her teeth, as she has no pain along the cheeks, does not drop feed, and does not hurt with the bit in the mouth being pulled.
Try this, keep your weight to the back of your saddle (as you are doing); hold your reins in such a way that there is contact with her mouth but you are not pulling; use your legs to urge her forward into the bit & and at the same time telling her to back; do not yield the reins but use them as a blockade against her going forward. She will try to move forward but be blocked by the bit and eventually move back. At that very moment - release the pressure of the reins and start over again.
She may want to raise her head or drive forward but just hold steady until she gets the idea that backward is where the release is.
A reinback is traditionally used as a "test" to see if the horse is working correctly through his body and is obedient to the aids. If the horse is working correctly in its other gaits, there will be no problem with the RB.
Instead of fixing a symptom, try finding the source. It sounds like your horse is not working correctly, and places too much weight on her forehand. To fix this, I suggest working on a lot of transitions, and getting her to sidepass or leg yield from each leg. To bring her "round" or in a frame don't use your hand and instead work on pushing her up from your legs into a steady contact. It helps to rest your hands on your saddle to get the feeling of holding your hands steady.
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