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Re: Reinback

Postby magicpony » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:21 pm

Well I didn't get to do any reinback with the miss today, my youngest son turned up so I finished a big quicker with her.
I think Ben and Dots would get on well- not daft, why make an effort if there isn't any food on offer? !! We will have to organize a meet up !
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Re: half step work

Postby glenatron » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:09 pm

poneysPie wrote:Interesting topic Susan, :thumbup: that you some progress.

I have the opposite problem..,
Ben will backup easier under saddle although still a bit reluctantly and he cant do straight yet but I have been taking it very slowly and just asking for one step, halt, ask again which seems to be helping. However inHand is a disaster, he just refuses to move. Tried the walking towards him as on Trudie's video but he just stood stock still and looked right through me so I have been praising him for just taking his weight back. BUT if I have his feed bucket in my hand and say back and walk towards him before putting it down I can get around 8 to 10 steps of perfect reinback.

While i'm pretty sure he understands the verbal "back" (I use it along with my body cures for the ridden rein back) it would seem the feed bucket is the one he is picking up on when i'm on the ground.

One of my teachers always says "if your horse understands a vocal cue, you can stand outside the arena and give that cue and the horse will do what you ask them to."

I have two ways of working on backup, neither of which is treat based because I tend to only use food in training when I'm working to get a horse on side and they don't see much benefit to human interaction or if I'm doing trick training stuff.

The first way is to ask by squaring up in front of the horse making direct eye contact and stepping towards them. If they don't move back ( many horses don't the first few times ) I make enough fuss that they decide that being around me is a non-awesome thing to do and take a step back. If in doubt I make more fuss rather than less because when one is ineffectual it tends to mean that one is teaching the horse to ignore one's own cues. I would rather the horse overreacts a little and I can tone down my cue next time than that the horse doesn't react and I have to pick things up next time. The big thing I never do in this situation is to shake the lead rope under the horse's chin. I try to keep that really steady. I definitely don't want the horse to throw their head in the air and shaking a lead rope really contributes to that, also it can be ineffectual as that is below where the horse is looking if their attention is on you. I will normally slap the tail of the rope against my chaps to make some noise and hecticness but you could also wave your arms around, jump up and down, just do whatever it takes to get a change. As soon as the horse steps back all pressure is off and you give them some thinking time. Then you set it up with the more subtle cue again. If you have to go beyond that more than a couple of times you are not making enough fuss when you make a fuss. If you stop making a fuss before your horse moves, you're teaching them to ignore you. I want my horse to think they are training me not to be crazy and annoying, and in a way they are.

I mention that way of backing a horse up first because that is the back up that I will use in day to day life- if I am going through a gate or we get stuck on a track while I'm leading, that is how I will back my horse away. It also is what keeps me safe if the horse is anxious because it is a big part of teaching them not to run over you.

When I am working towards riding, I have a second cue. This starts standing beside the horse's head and I hold the lead rope in my hand with the thumb pointing down and ask them to lower their head. I just keep the pressure there until they offer any downward softness then release it. This is a great exercise for teaching the basics of pressure and release. If they really resist and brace in the poll I might slowly rock my hand left and right so that they have to resist both a vertical and lateral movement. That is difficult so they tend to give after a little while. I might work on this over a few sessions as part of our basic work, until the horse can lower their head on demand and keep it lowered - often they will first offer a kind of nod, so once they are starting to drop their head one needs to ask for a little more time. I am looking for a head lowered so the poll is roughly level with the wither, so it's not super low, just at a level the horse would hold it when relaxed. Once I have that, with my hand in he same place I will ask the horse to bring their chin a little towards their chest. This process is normally a little like the original lowering, but once they figure it out you can ask them to bring their chin back a little and they will probably step to release it. You immediately release the pressure and give them some thinking time ( of course you give the horse thinking time after every significant release, which should be close enough to every release ) after a little work you will find that by asking back with a light release for each step, you can get a lovely smooth back up with the horse's head in a good position. In my experience this is very easy to transfer to the saddle and because you have already worked around the braces that most horses carry, it can be a starting place for working on softness in the poll and neck.

Oh, one other good technique too- if you have a horse that responds to your leg, you can start in the saddle by setting up your body in the position for backup ( opinion is divided on what is correct and it seems that as long as you are consistent, it doesn't matter too much ) and have the rein ready to close the door to forward, but don't pull back, just don't allow forward. Then ask the horse to step their back end to the left, then to the right, then to the left until they get a bit irritated and step back. Immediately release all pressure and tell them what an awesome horse they are. After a minute or so, set it up again. The advantage of this is that you get a back-up that starts from behind and pulls rather than a push from the front feet. You will know when you feel it because it is pretty awesome.
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Re: Reinback

Postby Trudi » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:51 am

I think your cue is walk backwards with the bucket, as Ben implied a cue is only really fully understood if it is acted upon in all contexts. I would keep going with the rocking back Nicky and develop it from that. I teach a move from touch when they are young so a touch on the chest would work too.
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Re: Reinback

Postby poneysPie » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:19 am

glenatron wrote:The first way is to ask by squaring up in front of the horse making direct eye contact and stepping towards them. If they don't move back ( many horses don't the first few times ) I make enough fuss that they decide that being around me is a non-awesome thing to do and take a step back. If in doubt I make more fuss rather than less because when one is ineffectual it tends to mean that one is teaching the horse to ignore one's own cues. I would rather the horse overreacts a little and I can tone down my cue next time


Thanks for taking the time to write such an extensive reply Ben. He's quite a sensitive/reactive wee soul my Ben and if I were to start making a fuss in front of him I'm likely to get knocked down and ran over the top of as he spins and flees :eek: rather than steps backwards.

Trudi wrote:I think your cue is walk backwards with the bucket, as Ben implied a cue is only really fully understood if it is acted upon in all contexts. I would keep going with the rocking back Nicky and develop it from that. I teach a move from touch when they are young so a touch on the chest would work too.


I presume you mean walk "forwards" (i.e., towards him) with the bucket not backwards Trudie? I would definitely get ran over the top of then :lol:
I would normally use a touch on the chest too but he just ignores that too, (remember when I tried to teach him to the beginnings of jambette by tapping him on the leg :? I know he finds it hard as conformation wise he has quite straight hocks. I will keep going with the rocking back as you suggest and get some video for you so you can see exactly what's going on as he seems to be more willing when I hold both reins together under his chin as opposed to the "usual" way of working inhand.

I got him as a rising 7yr old as he was so sensitive/reactive that he was scaring the children, they had him for just over a year but previous to that I don't know anything about his background. I tried to contact the woman who brought him up to Scotland supposedly she got him from a trecking center in Wales. I got absolutely no response to my messages and I going by the way he would just leap into the air and jump sideways at random bits of hay/straw etc hacking out I find it hard to believe he was a trecking center pony - perhaps that why they sold him on in the first place.

magicpony wrote:hiya Nicky! I will admit it is hard when the dressage arena is shaped so they have to push backwards uphill... :?
think about shutting all the doors in " the corridor", when I remembered this it really helped...

I think Ben and Dots would get on well- not daft, why make an effort if there isn't any food on offer? !! We will have to organize a meet up !


Hi Susan :wave: , a bit trickier to shut all the doors when I'm on the ground and he just panics if a put him against the fence line. Aye the wee monkey's not daft indeed. A meet up sounds good, you could come down here this time as you provided the hospitality last time!
“Ask often; be content with little, praise a great deal.” (Nuno Oliveira)
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Re: Reinback

Postby magicpony » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:52 am

Yes good idea Nicky for a meet up sometime.
Its a virtual corridor Nicky! It helps me keep focused and see where and at what moment everything is going pear shaped :lol: and then shut the virtual doors so she finds the answer, although you could put poles on the ground.. !!!
Ben sounds like Nick used to be..
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Re: Reinback

Postby glenatron » Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:15 pm

poneysPie wrote:Thanks for taking the time to write such an extensive reply Ben. He's quite a sensitive/reactive wee soul my Ben and if I were to start making a fuss in front of him I'm likely to get knocked down and ran over the top of as he spins and flees :eek: rather than steps backwards.

You only ever need to make enough fuss to get a change, that's a thing that you align to the horse. There will be an amount of pressure that he can tolerate without leaving that will persuade him to move his feet back, there is no question of that. The thing you have to keep reminding very reactive horses about ( my pony is this way inclined ) is that they can stop and think and decide how to act rather than just leaping off on the first idea they get.
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Re: Reinback

Postby littlewhitehorse » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:07 am

Lots of interesting variations and techniques on this; I think I use a mixture of these as well as the sending energy down the rope one if necessary; I came back to this after spending time with Christian last autumn and watching how he set this up, and usually got a straight back up. I have no problem in throwing some energy down the rope (as one way of making a fuss) if a phase 4 is necessary initially, the raised head is a reaction which usually goes away once the desired response is learned, and from there a raised hand can be used to signal back up at liberty or long distance, instead of a voice cue. Always starting with focus and intent from the body. But I can see how if you're shaping gymnastically towards riding and dressage that it isn't going in the right direction. Good explanations from Ben. I too like the lowered head approach described, and encouraging the hind feet to move first.
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