SHOULD WE OR SHOULD WE NOT REVERSE
YES WE SHOULD
You will hear some English Riding Instructors'
say that you should never reverse an English trained competition horse
because it will stop the horse halting square or even worse STEP BACK.
The funny thing is though, that as soon as you
get to the Elementary or third level dressage, you have to reverse
up to five steps and most do it very badly.
All Western competition horses have to reverse.
It is part of their every day training and a movement in every event.
With your general pleasure horse...it matters not.
So which way should we go? What are the pros and
WHY SHOULD WE
The reasons why we should reverse our horses far
outweigh the reasons why we shouldn't. Here are the reasons why we should.
If the young horse learns to reverse
on command, it always does it well Trying to teach 'old dogs
new tricks' never gets the perfect result.
If the young horse can reverse, it
will always have a better mouth. WHY? Because horses
with reverse gear included in their mind will always have
better mouths. That's because they have a balanced expectation of
where they may be going next or what gear they may be put into rather
than only thinking the forward and faster to overdrive gears. It
puts balance into a horses mind. I call it 'speed rating'
The horse that reverses almost always has
If you are a Trail Rider, you may want to
reverse back rather than hurt your horse in the rabbit burrows or
the from the brown snake just in front of you. You may want to open
a gate even.
Most riders do not back their horses correctly
and as a result, most horses do not back correctly. Even some Australian
Olympic riders, so don't feel bad.
THE GREEN HORSE OR BREAKER
With the Breaker or 'Green Breaker', you will NOT
be using leg!!!!!
The greener the young horse is the more hand and
less leg you will be able to use. As the horse progressively understands
leg better, you can start to introduce a little as you ask for the back
up and increase it over time until the hand is totally eliminated as
with the trained horse. For the mature horse however, do this:
HOW YOU DO IT?
Bring your horse to the halt.
Stand for five seconds at least.
Pick up your contact
to the point where you have "Shut the front gate" In other
words, if the horse attempts to move forward it cannot.
your hands in concrete at that precise position.
from your proper upright riding position to breaking at your hips
and promoting your weight down and slightly back .
your legs slightly backwards and put "Leg On" If it is
already on (English horse) increase it.
The horse then
has a number of choices.
Should the horse go to rear (see
rearers) go easy and slowly until the horse understands, and
above all, throw the reins away and lean forward.
When it has stepped, even half a step, release
your legs and your hands totally and it will stop. Forget about the
correctness of the rules of your chosen Discipline here. We are just
trying to get the message across to the horse as to what we want and
how it is supposed to react.
Remember that the first message that the horse
identifies as correct is the most important one of all. The foundation
basis is lodged into the brain of the horse from that day on.
CAN I TRUST MYSELF?
Very few riders' that I watch, can have enough
trust in the horse and training systems to be actually able to leave
their hands still and to not 'haul' on the mouth. This is the key to
this training system. You must not sneak your hands backwards, even
if the horse is not reversing yet.
WHY DID THE HORSE REVERSE
It reversed because it answered leg and went somewhere.
Because it couldn't go forward it elected to go backwards.
Hopefully, when it did, the rider released and gave the 'reward
and relief' to signify to the horse that it had done well.
WHY DO MOST HORSES REVERSE BADLY
Because riders pull them backwards
with brute force by using their hands.
This causes resistance and
horses that throw their head up or above the bit.
This causes the horse to think upwardly, not about breaking at the
pole and down.
well trained horses do things because they answer leg.
THE KEY TO REVERSING WITHOUT RESISTANCE
When the horse backs your hands must
not move one millimeter from where you 'shut the gate.'
This causes the horse to get reward and relief
for reversing softly on the bit and for not resisting.
The horse breaks at the poll instead
of putting it's head up and resisting.
If you move your hands backwards and
steal from the horse the loop in the rein that it gave, you have
penalized the trust that the horse gave your hands. You are penalizing
the horse for being good. That does not make a 'Trainer'
As time goes on, the horse will understand the
system more and more and will move backwards off your leg with more
HOW DO I MAKE THE HORSE REVERSE FASTER
Simply increase leg just the same as
you do to go forward. This is why you must use leg and nothing but,
to reverse your horse.
At the start, you will most probably get confusion
and you will have trouble in resisting the temptation to pull with
your hands but you must not. Just increase your leg or even kick.
Remember, sophistication comes later.
A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS
If you are a Western
Competitor.....are you allowed to pull on the reins whilst reversing?
No, you are not. If you are an English Competitor....are you marked down
for a thing called 'Resistance'? The answer is, yes.
BEST OF LUCK