The Key To A Better Back Up
By Hadrien Dykiel
When I teach people how to back their horses up on the ground, the same question keeps popping up: “How do I back up my horse with more energy?” The nice thing is, most people actually already know how to do this without realizing it.
To back your horse up, first you ask gently by creating a little bit of energy in front of them, such as by wiggling the lead rope. If they do not listen or the back up is too slow, you gradually raise the pressure until your horse responds. As soon as they do, you release the pressure to reward the horse for backing up.
But what if you actually want your horse to continue backing up? Think about how you press down the gas pedal in order to accelerate when you are driving your car. When you want to go faster, most people usually don’t slam the pedal to the metal. Instead, you gradually press it harder until you get the acceleration you’re looking for. Once you’ve reached the speed you want, you don’t just take your foot off the pedal because your car will start to slow again. Instead, you ease off the gas but keep pressing the gas pedal a little bit to maintain your speed. You can do the same with your horse to maintain a quick and energetic back up. Gradually increase the pressure until you get the back up speed you are looking for, the same as if you are giving your car more gas. Once you’ve reached that speed, release the majority of the pressure to reward your horse but continue exerting a little bit of energy, like wiggling the lead rope and walking towards them, to let them know they should keep going. If your horse starts to slow again, do not hesitate to increase the pressure again.
Just like driving a car, it takes some time to get the timing down. Keep practicing, and make sure you do not ask your horse too much too fast. Eventually, your goal should be to have your horse back away from you while you simply march towards them.