I got a question recently about stopping a horse and most importantly, backing up.

We want to get them to be able to back up with ease where you’re not forcing them and they’re not getting stiff on you. They’re able to backup, off your hands without you even moving your hands. Im going to demonstrate how I start to interpret that and get them to back up easily!

When i ask my horse to stop, theres a few steps to it.

Step 1: It’s, Whoa my body and my hands don’t move, they stay in a fixed position, my arms around 90 degrees. then I try to Imagine I’m creating a wall with my bridle, my wall is my reins and they need to back off and get behind it. The stop goes into the backup as well because I really wanted it to enforce them to stop and the backup just enforces it with the same gesture.

I’m not changing my hands really. They just kind of realized that when they stop, they have to keep backing off the pressure of the wall infront of them. So when im going forward, at any speed i will “Whoa” my body and say woah. , My hands will pick up a bit to create the wall there and hold it until they actually back off.

If I feel her refusing a bit, she’s not really wanting to move in a hurry, I might squeeze my legs and if you have spurs be careful, start with your calf muscles. Then really mean “whoa” if she’s still not backing up then I might get my spur under her belly to pick her belly up and I keep saying say “Woah” as she’s doing it.

When I feel her move with energy, I release all the pressure.

I want her to move with energy in her backup if she’s not really backing up quickly. I hold the pressure until I feel a really take a few good steps back with energy. Like she’s actually meaning it. Then release everything. That is her reward. 

If you have a very green horse or they’re really being stubborn and not wanting to give any step backs, I go back to the basics. If if they’re refusing to move their feet, I’m going to move their feet and then ask them for the backup.

So how you accomplish that: get them to turn on their forehand. Just get their feet moving. So I’ll try and spin her butt around and as she’s making that spin, I’ll start to pull back and the goal is to even get an inch back, just even half a step back is a good start. Once you get that move, release. Keep working on that until you don’t have to turn anymore.

But when you start, kick her hip around and then pull back and get steps. then you’re slowly getting one step closer to a nice, light, smooth backup!

I hope it was helpful. If you have any questions just let me know.

Thank you,