Backing a horse

Samson is an 18h 3 year old Irish Sports Horse. We are continuing to record his progress during his breaking.

Samson has proved to be a very easygoing, trusting horse which considering his size is a blessing. I would not fancy having a battle of wills with this guy. He accepted the bit and the saddle with minimal fuss.

This video records Samson’s first time being backed by a rider. How we do this is we have the rider lay across his back and walk in little circles to familiarise the animal with what we want him to do. It can get hairy at this point, and not all backings are as plain sailing as this was, but it helps when the horse is so trusting.

You must do everything possible to make the horse feel comfortable. We achieve this by petting, brushing, scratching and leaning into them. Each time he reacts positively to a new task or touch he gets praised. Dont be afraid to praise and reward when he is good. By doing this we hope that trust is built and he will react well to pressure on his back.

Gather yourself, slow your heart rate, relax but always remain aware, for laying across any horse for the first time can be unpredictable. Never attempt this on your own. You must allow the horse to react even negatively, remain in control of horse, rider and yourself. Never react loudly or negatively, but always reinforce the positive. This is where time spent in the stable grooming and socialising with the animal is extremely beneficial. He will know if he reacts well, that he will be rewarded. Each time we do this it is different for each horse. You have to be able to judge when to call it quits, or when to persevere. If its not working out for you, never be afraid to call it a day. Try doing something you know the horse is comfortable with, ask him to perform that task, reward him if he does it right. Always end the day on a good note. Tomorrow is another day.

This is video of Samson being backed for the first time. It is only a little snippet of what we do. When backing we will repeat the action up to 5 times depending on how well the horse reacts to the first initially backing.

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There will be more video of Samson’s progress posted.


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