What does it mean to ‘back a horse‘ for the first time? Well, it means teaching a horse to wear a saddle and to carry a rider on their shoulders at the top level for the first time. It is also about educating your horse to respond to your teachings, and riding them so that they do not learn to be shocked, bitten, kick or bored by another creature or horse.
A young horse’s support, breaking, and training is a sensitive, time-consuming and serious process, with a lot of practice and experience needed to learn how to do that correctly. If you’re so young or new to riding, you can do a lot of damage to a horse if you rush through the process.
However, the right support, guidance, and information can help you to relax, teach you to calm your horse and even enjoy the experience, all of which helps to build mutual trust.
Give the best start to your horse – and then decide what riding style is most suitable – as every horse is different. When the horse breaks and just remember that all animals – even horses – aren’t badly born, they just react to what we humans do.
So How Do we Back a Horse?
We spend time connecting with your horse or pony, not focusing on breaking them in. It is very important to build mutual confidence by understanding the way your horse reacts to you and their normal temperament. You should also have a keen eye to notice if something is wrong or not. It is important to help the horse understand the basic commands by spending time and helping to support them even later.
The amount of initial training is highly dependent on the horse and the length of time they are with us. We will begin to measure what we are expected to achieve at a certain time while working with your horse. It is worth noting, however. that supporting a horse is not a rapid process, for example, for a young horse to become a bit used to a saddle, straws, and leathers, for a few minutes at a time over a few weeks.
This is before we think that we would put your horse’s trust in someone.
How Long does it Take?
There is far more to own a horse than to have the first support, and the education of a horse over many years is an ongoing process. We’re keen to help you make a good start, the basics being our priority to make sure your horse and you enjoy the following years. With six to eight weeks, we will recommend that you support your horse effectively, so we would not suggest less than four weeks. Many of our customers also keep their horses with us for a year or more to strengthen the work.
Pick a calm time of day
Don’t plan to support your horse on a day when there’s a great jumping lesson or when your horse gets distracted at feed time. If you work with them usually at certain times of the day, keep on.
You want to minimize interruptions and calm and focus anything. It’s probably also best not to pick a day because of that when it’s raining or unusually windy. This may mean that your plans or timeline have to be flexible, and this is all right. It’s always about. Set your horse on for the first time when you are sitting on it.
Have someone on the ground
When you get on board for the first time, have a knowledgeable person on the floor with you. They can contribute to keeping the horse calm, holding the horse on, or lunging it gently once you are there if that is the most familiar horse.
In case anything goes wrong and you need help or medical attention, it is also important from a security perspective to have somebody with you.
Use a mounting block
It is really best to use a mounting block or something high that you can use for the first time your horse is mounted.
That sounds strange, but many people have tried to get on with a smooth leg for the first time and spoken badly on the horse, making it much harder to get on next time!
Get your horse used to your touch
Now is the time to bit the bullet and get on. You probably have done many steps of preparation in order to sit on the horse etc., but it’s wise to ride it again before you move on.
Now it’s time for the bullet to be bite and get ready. You probably have done many preparatory steps to lean over your horse, but it’s wise to pass through again before you get on your way. Stand up, remove your arms and repeat a number of times – without tightening or tightening the reverse, your horse should accept this.
Sweep your arms over its back where a leg could break up as someone gets on and usually test to be happy with touch in every area.
You want to raise a little pressure next. Start by lying over the saddle and keep your feet a little more weight than your head.
Why is that? If you want your horse to react badly (although it shouldn’t), you want to be ready to swing again to your feet instead of falling to you! Get off and do that 3 or 4 times.
Slowly, slowly, you could swing over your leg and sit in the saddle when he’s pleased with this. Look forward to your horse with a soft voice and a scratch and stop to relax.
If you have anybody on the ground, ask them if you wish to take the horse to walk away.
You should carefully monitor your horse throughout the entire process to see if it shows signs of distress or anxiety. Of course, it’s obvious that the horse is cautious, but if you think there might be a little too much pressure, don’t be afraid to go back a step. It’s very worrying, and show high tension or nervousness.
It could just mean that you need to lean over your back for a few more minutes instead of swinging your leg across your saddle.
You can always postpone the backing until another day if your horse reacts badly, but ensure that it finishes in a good note with something the horse is comfortable and easy to handle.
So what lookout for as a sign of tension?
A tight raised back is an obvious sign of tension. A horse like that could explode or run off just after you get on it.
A horse that quickly supports itself or rotates when weight is placed inside the stirrup or saddle is obviously a horse that feels stressed away.
An additional warning sign, like a very high carry-on head and neck with wide eyes, is a short, clamped tail – this is known as the ‘loose eye‘.
If you panic and bolt or buck on your horse, it will know and react to your actions. Try to stay calm and stop without pulling or yanking.