Backing Up

Backing Up

Getting any horse to back readily is simple with a few key concepts as outlined here.

By Keith Hosman
Backing isn't natural to a horse. Duh. When was the last time your horse turned to his buddies and said, "Check you guys out later..." and backed away?

Backing Up

Hey, you know why your horse won't back up? Know why you can pull on those reins all day long and the horse just throws his head up and plants his back feet? The more you pull, the more "planted" you become?

A very big reason is this: Backing isn't natural to a horse. Duh. When was the last time your horse turned to his buddies and said, "Check you guys out later..." and backed away? Or backed into his shelter? Ever notice how infrequently you see them back? When they do, they kinda waddle, like ducks. Even when the big honcho mare is in their face, they'll usually pivot on their back legs and turn away. (Or push right past her FAST.) I've seen boss mares back forty feet to deliver a good kick - but Darwin would tell you she's the boss in part because she's figured out tricks like... how to back forty feet.

When you sit on your horse and think "back" and pull and pull and pull... you know what your horse is thinking? The old ones think: "How ruuuuuude" and plant their legs. The young ones just get scared and go up (as in "rear").

The horse that balks rather than moving backward isn't giving to (rein) pressure; you're pulling and so is he. And, because he has no experience backing (smoothly, at least), when you pull he doesn't know to "assume the backing position." (It's like giving the gas to a car that's in park.) Here's the most important thing you can learn when it comes to going backward: Go forward. From now on, if you even for an instant feel your horse resist as you ask him to back, get him going forward - and do so right away. Don't let him learn that balking is an option - correct that thought immediately by goosing him forward. Two fundamental John Lyons Training concepts are at play here: 1) "The horse can't decide to 'not move.'" and 2) "Get the feet to move, get them to move consistently, then...

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