Backing youngster, leaning over for the first time tips please!!!!

brown tack

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 February 2011
Messages
1,121
Ok I've got the stage with my 3 yr old where it's almost time to start getting on broad. We can lunge, long rein, stop, turn, wear a saddle, so got to start thinking about getting on now! I have backed horses before, just not one for myself. And I've got a very good instructor helping me, but would love to hear of any tips that may help me out.

Things like do you leave the side reins on? Do you wear a body protector when leaning over as someone told me not too in case it catches the saddle when getting off. Would you do it in the school, stable or lunge pen? Or anything else you can think of, sort of having a mild panic, as didn't think I would get to this stage so quick but he's taking to work so easily. (no he's been rushed just had it my head to be broken in the summer, now got to bring that foreword)

Thanks for any replys
 

Sparkles

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 April 2009
Messages
7,572
Noooo to the side reins.

I always do it in a stable first - lean over and get on and off just half over a few times. Then I always move about a bit so they're comfy with movement on then. Then get walked around in a small circle leant over. Then once they're settled, just go all the way up quietly and sit on them. Then next time, lean over once, then get straight up, then walk around the stable in a small circle sat on them. The progress to doing the same outside the yard up and down. :)
 

wyrdsister

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 May 2011
Messages
606
No to the side reins and I'd avoid the back protector personally too. I've broken a few horses and done the leaning over process slightly differently with all of them. I prefer to do it in a familiar environment - usually the arena or training field (years ago, I was somewhere without a school, so we made do!) - although I tend not to use the box as I find it a bit confined: too many walls to hit if the horse does panic!

One of the approaches I like is to do a normal session with your beastie, lunging, long-reining, whatever, and come and stand by a mounting block right at the end, reach over and pat them, get them used to having someone up in the air beside them, jump on and off the block, touch all over their back, rest a little weight on your hands while keeping your feet on the block. Same thing next day, but start to lean over gently, not taking your feet off the block again. Repeat and if the horse is comfortable, take your feet off the block, then put them back. Repeat, repeat. Next day, lean over at the end of the session, and if the horse is still comfortable, swing your leg over, whilst leaning forward. Slowly sit up. Get on and off a few times. End session. Next day, repeat previous day and (either on lunge or off, your preference), get them to walk and halt a few circles on either rein. End session. From there, you can start to progress to light ridden work.

My approach is probably overcautious, but having wound up in hospital a few times and having had to reschool horses that have been badly backed, I err on the side of paranoia! You may be able to move forward with your own more quickly if he's comfortable. Best of luck! :D
 

cambrica

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 November 2011
Messages
2,145
I personally wouldn't use side reins or body protector at this point and the ceilings/beams are too low in my stables to try in there.
Just started lightly backing my boy and having to do it bareback as I haven't got a saddle for him yet (changes shape every month!)
I have him in the yard with a mounting block and have one of the girls lean over and walk in a small circle around the mounting block, repeat several times.
Then one leg over and stay crouched down, repeat several times. Then rise up and walk again in increasing circles. Then go for a gallop !! (joking)
I must say though that my boy was used in the Monty Roberts 'start-up' at a demo and was a star so if he can do it there he can do it for me :)
 

lachlanandmarcus

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 November 2007
Messages
5,762
Location
Cairngorms!
Im completely with wyrdsister, the horse is very used to weight and pulling/tugging by the time you get on using this method. The only new bit then for them with the actual backing is the funny visual sensation of a looming shape on their back, just one new thing to deal with.

Have someone with a lead rein on loosely holding it, not to make the horse stay there but just to bring them gently back if they do start walking off too quickly.


I followed this method with my girl and she never blicked an eye.

I have to say I know lots of people back in stables and it works fine but it fills me with horror. One rear and you are cracked onto the ceils and bouncing off stable walls with your foot caught in the stirrup....noooooo thanks!
 

Alyth

Well-Known Member
Joined
2 August 2009
Messages
870
I would say yes to the body protector but use a bareback pad!! But if you have done sufficient prep work and built up your youngsters confidence nothing untoward will happen!!. I would ask will he stand by a mounting block while you brush him and lean over him? Will he flex to a feel on the rein? Both sides? While you are standing on said mounting block? Can you sit on a fence or gate and get him to come alongside and stand still? Will he move his hindquarters to a feel on his side like he will feel a heel when being ridden? Will he stand still while you bounce up and down beside him?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then I would get him alonside the mounting block, lean over and try rubbing his hindquarters with your leg. Do this both sides!! So you can mount from both sides in an emergency.....if all is ok with this this several times then slide on - and off the other side straight away!! Rinse and repeat ad nauseateum!! It's a case of baby steps, rewarding all the quiet standing still by you backing off and then progressing just a bit further. The books that I have read make it sound like a succession of quick steps, whereas in fact it is progressing like a snail!!! And the major principles in my book are "advance and retreat" and "reward every try (good behaviour)". Then stay sitting on him longer and longer. When this is ok, try a hindquarter disengage. One step!! As was said, a small enclosure is best for confidence of both of you!! When you can disengage one step each way, then try a forward step. By the way - can you get him to step forward when you are standing beside him on the ground? Tapping on the top of his quarters? Then that would be the sign for him to move forward while you are on his back!!, he wouldn't understand 2 legs!! Or have a helper lead him a step. Literally one step at a time!! Good luck. I'm sure you can do it!!
 

lachlanandmarcus

Well-Known Member
Joined
29 November 2007
Messages
5,762
Location
Cairngorms!
as well as tiny baby steps of progress each time, it's good to stop each session (max 20 mins for babies) on a good note. But if that isnt possible, dont panic, a couple of things my pony just didnt 'get' in one session. After a night to work it through her head, she came out next day and did it perfectly first time every time from then on!

Also dont worry if they are great at something then after a few weeks start to get a bit worse. eg I had this with standing by the block to be mounted. Partly its that you are giving them more things to think about as the riding progresses and their brain is full, partly its being in a hurry to get going. But stay calm and really persevere with it, as it needs to be cracked while they are young and not set in their ways.
 

asommerville

Well-Known Member
Joined
13 May 2010
Messages
1,532
i did a lot of standing on mounting blocks both in and out of the stable and also started leaning over his back (not sitting on) in the stable bareback. my youngster was a wee bit tricky and v scared if someone on him at first, had to go back a few steps and strapped a big teddy on his back for lunging and long lining to get him used to sonething behind him.
 

brown tack

Well-Known Member
Joined
24 February 2011
Messages
1,121
well ive done all the flexing of the neck and head, standing on the mountain block etc so this afternoon after a short 15min lunge, I grabbed the mountain block with the view of just standing on it. however if felt right so lent over. (Had my instructor with me) He didnt bat an eye lid, just stood there, well apart from trying to eating my hat. Didnt ask him to walk on, as hes the type that he needs a day to think things though, so i try not to push him too much.

But a very chuffed mummy!
 

Monkers

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 May 2005
Messages
417
No side reins or body protector
I personally wouldn't do it inside the stable either.

Before you get on make sure you can stand over the horse on a mounting block. Put your hands on the saddle and lean on him a little bit, not so much that if he moves away, you fall off it though!

I find holding the pommel and cantle and jumping up and down very helpful. The horse needs to get used to you "bouncing" at his side for when he recieves a leg up.

To be honest, leaning over a horse is not very comfortable for him. It's inevitable that you will have more weight on the left side of the horse than the right. This means when the horse moves forward he will feel this unbalanced load and I have known many horses freak at this point. They are fine standing still, it's just when you walk forward it's a problem.

Don't be tempted to put your upperbody further over the saddle to make it more balanced for the horse. You need to be able to slide off quickly in an emergancy.

I have a helper holding the horse, but they also stay supporting some of my weight by holding my left knee after they have legged me up. This helps balance my weight a little, but also means they can help me control my descent. There's nothing going to scare your horse faster than if you slide off him suddenly.

Don't walk more than a few steps. It's not nice for your horse or for you (hurts your belly!) and ALWAYS have your helper help control your descent.

Only do it a handful of times and then just get on properly.

A competant helper is your biggest asset, make sure you have one!
 

D66

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 June 2010
Messages
8,270
Location
down a hole
Before you put your weight on the saddle lean over the horse (from a mounting block) and fiddle with the stirrup, slap the saddle panel, the horses flank on the off side and its rump. Then do the same with your weight on the saddle. Only get on when the horse doesn't jump when you do this so that it won't shoot off if you touch/bang it unexpectedly.
I plaited my horses mane in the stable while standing on a chair, probably not the safest thing to do, but it did get her used to me being up in the air and behind her.
 

Miss L Toe

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 July 2009
Messages
6,174
Location
On the dark side, Scotland
I groom my pony by standing on a bale so I am above eye-line, and slip a leg over every so often, daily and from both sides when near to backing. I make sure he does not object to the feel of a leg passing over his rump.
I spend ages tacking up and removing tack, take pony out for walks in hand and really as much ground work as humanly possible. Also do a lot of long reining, up and down the same tracks as he was walked in hand. and rub the reins all over his rump, and up and down his legs so he does not panic.
Eventually I take him in to a big barn, with a bale behind and along both sides, he is wearing his lunge roller and a hessian sack, I stand beside him if I have a helper, who lies over him, if on my own I just slip a leg over, holding on to his mane, so far there has been no upsets, but the ponies are very quiet and very well handled.
I make sure the helper avoids hitting his rump on the way on or off.
I try not to make a big thing of this and maybe the next day will do something else with him especially if he was worried in any way.
I would be ready to introduce long reining with a saddle on at this stage.
 
Top