Teaching the 'backup'
How does everyone go about teaching a green horse to 'backup'?
When I first taught thunder, It was at a clinic and they had us put pressure on the lead line down to their chest and when they even shifted their body in the direction of attempting to go backwards, praise them much. then you get them to take or even just lift one foot, big praises. And so on.
Another way I've seen people do it is with a dressage whip and tap (not slap) the front of the legs and/or chest start small and then go harder (but constistant, not beating) and as well putting pressure on the lead line down into the chest until they make the slightest movement backwards...then reward (same as above).
As with the top one, I've seen some people hold down the lead and poke with finger into the chest asking for the back.
Remember to give your "movement" cue, like a click or kiss asking back.
And then when you get it down on the ground asking for it in the saddle can be a bit more difficult and confusing for them, but you want to keep your hands lower, pulling into your belly button and slide your hands down the reigns, and from what I'm told, you do have to ask for a lot of contact. As well as cueing with legs and asking for the back. Hope that helps!
I don't normally teach the back until I am in the saddle. I simply apply very slight pressure to the reins until the horse BEGINS to move backward then I release and reward. Each time I hold just a little bit longer until they actually step backward and just keep working the time incriments up to as long as you can. It takes some time and a lot of patience.
I teach the back up very similarly to free_sprtd. I'll apply pressure toward the horse's chest with the lead (a rope halter works better for initial teaching, I've found.) Then I ask, "Back" or "Back up" and as soon as the horse yields to the pressure at ALL (even just lowering their head or picking up a foot) I release and praise immensely. If I get no reaction, I'll pat their chest a few times in addition to the lead pressure. Each time, ask for a little bit more, and make sure you're asking "Back" or "Back up" or whatever you choose to be your verbal cue. Also, make sure you're in a place that your horse is familiar with and has no obstructions that he might see out of the corner of his eye. He'll be more willing to back up when he knows he's not walking into or off of something. :]
what worked for me is I say my verbal command "back" softly, and than I take my two fingers and put pressure on the chest of the horse, and as soon as the horse shifts its weight or takes a step back, I relieve the pressure but keep my hand there and start rubbing the horse where I was putting the pressure on, and praise, always praise! horses don't like pressure, and once they learn that they can get away from pressure by you asking something and they doing something, they'll do that! I hope you understand what I mean :S :)
One thing to keep in mind is that backing is not a natural movement for a horse, it's not a natural defense or play movement. Also, when a horse backs it does so by moving it's legs in diagonal pairs, the same as when it trots forward, at the same time the head is moving from side to side. So it makes sense then to ask for the back by instead of applying direct downward pressure with the lead rope you build on the side to side movement getting them to shift their weight on the front legs first.
Here's some info that explains to in more detail:
How to Teach a Horse to Back Up | eHow.com
When your under saddle, the back comes from stopping the forward motion. In other words, you have you leg on but are blocking the forward movement by setting your reins. There's no pulling or lifting of the reins, they get the release by backing instead of trying to go forward into the bit.
Thanks guys, that really helped. I'm teaching my Dakota how to backup... and he's got it ok, though I'm doing it much differently that your guys teach it. Lol.
I use the dressage whip method free_sprtd described, but instead of a movement cue, I have a cue just for backing. It's "shhh". I use that because when it's what the farrier I was using in Alabama (he helped me teach them to back) used and he's the only other person other than me and rarely my dad that handled my horses... Cope also understands "back" now because a lot of people at this barn use it, but he doesn't move as fast. Using a special backing cue also seemed to help to teach him to back in the saddle...he was able to catch onto what I was asking quicker. An "Oh...I know that sound" kind of moment.
"Aww ya, there's the "yo yo"? but Thunder never picked up on it much.
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