How to teach a horse to back up without pulling your reins too hard

Backing up is one of the first things a horse needs to learn. Yet a lot of people underestimate it. There is a big difference in what you teach your horse when you back up from the saddle and when you back up from the ground.

Backing up from the ground has a very different meaning than backing up from the saddle

When you work with your horse from the ground, backing up is mainly about gaining respect.

If your horse tries to push you, doesn’t matter if it’s with his body or his head, he clearly tells you that you should listen to him and that he is not really going to listen to you.

how to teach a horse to back up

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On the other hand, if he backs up in front of you, he shows you that he is respecting you. You can tell how much he respects you by the way he backs up in front of you.

If he starts backing up very easily and backs up fast, you know you have a lot of respect, if you have to use more pressure to get him to back up, then you have less respect.

Even if you did nothing else, and you just taught your horse to back up in front of you, In his eyes you will become much more important. And that is the main reason why I practice backing up from the ground.

Another reason is that backing up from the ground helps to prepare my horse for backing up from the saddle.

Backing up from the saddle

Backing up from the saddle has a different importance. It is not going to get your horse to respect you, because your horse is not going to be backing up away from you, and in his eyes, backing up from the saddle doesn’t mean that he is showing respect.

Backing up from the saddle is there to improve the way your horse reacts on the pressure.

Do this and you will be able to backup without pulling your reins too hard

When you ask your horse to back up, you should pull your reins very slowly and gradually, you don’t want to increase the pressure too quickly.

You need to give your horse some time to react, especially in the begging when he is just learning.

You must avoid this mistake

If you pull your reins too fast, your horse will feel pain before he even realizes what is he supposed to be doing.

The only thing he has on his mind after that is the pain, he can’t think about what you want.

If you ever went to a dentist and he was drilling your teeth, then you know what I mean. When something really hurts, all of the sudden the only thing that is on your mind is the pain.

How to get your horse to back up faster?

If you want your horse to back up faster, don’t just pull your reins more.

You should only pull your reins more if your horse tries to go forward against the pressure. If you want to be backing up faster, you should start tapping your horse with your legs instead.

Backing up helps with other things as well

Backing up from the saddle is not just about backing up, it also helps to improve the way you are able to slow your horse down. It helps to improve transitioning between gaits and stopping.

Simply, if you teach your horse to back up from the saddle, stopping and slowing down will also improve.

Another important thing is that during a well-executed stop, your horse should stop by putting more weight on his rear other than just his front legs. Backing up helps your horse to exercise the muscles that he will need to be able to stop better.

If you want to learn more about stopping and backing up, including a step by step guide on learning how to stop without reins claim my Free Video Series over here

How to teach a horse to back up without pulling your reins too hard
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