“Stacy- Just curious why you don’t use your legs when asking Jac to back up? I’ve always been taught to use my legs (whether it be just one leg or both legs) if I’m looking for them to move in any direction including backing up! 🙂 – Krysti M.
Krysti- When I was growing up-I was taught the same thing!
Over the years I have added to my knowledge and now I have several cues for backing up. One of them is backing up while using my legs. I have others though.
In all of my training I find it useful to have more than one way to ask a horse to do something, several ways to back up; several ways to turn left, several ways to stop, etc.
The first method of backing up that I teach is using the reins only. To keep things simple I make ‘legs mean go forward’ and ‘rein pressure without legs means back up’.
Next I will use my reins and my legs both to ask for the back up…but I will use my legs in front of the cinch- tapping the shoulders- to ask them to back up. By using my legs in front of the cinch I am again trying to keep things clear. Legs behind the cinch mean forward…legs in front of the cinch means back up.
Eventually the legs in front of the cinch with rein pressure will lead to another cue which is legs only (no rein pressure) in front of the cinch means back up.
Next, on my very highly trained horses I will also teach them to ‘shift gears’ into reverse when I ‘release’ my legs and then apply pressure just behind the girth. I do this because I need a backup cue that I can use in the show pen…and I am not allowed to use my legs in front of the cinch when showing. I can also ‘steer’ the horse by using this method. This is the main cue I use in my bridleless riding; leg release with the idea that I can ask for the backup.
I believe that if a horse is taught to do something, for example back up, several different ways…that the training is that many times stronger. As I have at least three separate ways to back up, my back is likely three times stronger than someone who only has one way.
Check out Can Can Lena’s back up at the end of our 2003 Championship ride: Drag it to 3:20 if you just want to watch the back-up.