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Like title says. My friend's horse won't back when we ask. When we ask her to back up she'll spin and throw a tantrum. She will, however, back up on the ground. Is there a way to tell if a horse doesn't know how to back in the saddle?
 

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How are you asking the horse to back undersaddle? How long have you had the horse and what is it trained for?

Maybe you are not using the correct aids?
 

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It's my friend's horse. She has had the horse under a year. We both ask the mare gently and firmly. Even pressure in the legs and pull and release on the reins. She was told that the horse was trained english and western but she's not 100% certain on horse's info.
 

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Using similar/same aids in the saddle as she's been taught & responds to on the ground will help if you're not sure whether she understands. But first, are you sure she *can* back under saddle? Perhaps the saddle's pinching her, her back's sore or some such & it's difficult for her to do it.
 

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By this mare's reactions, it sounds like she has either learned how to evade backing cues, or just was never really taught how to back under saddle. Retraining, or training her to back is the same, really...I prefer to do in a snaffle bit, but that is your choice.

When I teach a horse to back I don't use 'tug and release' methods on the reins, I use light steady pressure, and only release when he gives me what I am asking for...a step backwards. I cue from right at the cinch, and use a deep seat, so the horse knows he is not to travel foward. Don't pull harder on his mouth if he doesn't respond immediately, just keep your pressure even and steady until he gives you what you are asking for; same with your leg pressure...don't kick and nudge harder...just keep the pressure there until he figures out what it is you are looking for. Eventually you will get a quicker response, and will be able to ask for more consecutive steps in each set, but at first, just ask for one step, and then release all pressure.
 

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While doing ground work and having her back up use a verbal cue. For instance I say "Back, back, back, back" with the same tone every time. I always say the cue first, then pulse lightly with the halter while saying the cue again, and with a backward step I stop, then I do the same thing again. She will then associate the verbal cue with backing up under saddle. Verbal cues are so helpful and it can only help the communication between the horse and rider. When a horse is being lunged and knows what "walk" "trot" "canter" means think how much it helps the horse to understand what is being asked while under saddle. Good luck. :)
 
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