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Part 4 - Backing your young horse

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In this series we have already looked at the basics which must be well established before you attempt to back your young horse, you must also ensure your horse is not too fit or getting too much hard feed before backing for the first time.

You need to use a safe, enclosed area with an experienced helper or two on the ground.  It is a good idea to fit a neckstrap for the rider to grab should he loose balance so as not to pull on the bit and create a bad experience for the horse.
Lunge the horse to absorb any excess energy and then with one person holding the horse steady and one person helping the rider, quietly leg the rider up so he is leaning over the horse but without putting too much weight onto the horse.

Watch the horse's expression and assuming he is happy with this new experience continue leaning over and then quietly and gently sliding back down.  Once established, you can lead him forward a few steps, reassuring the horse throughout.
The next step is to leg the rider up so astride the horse, but keeping the upper body fairly low on the horse's neck and putting feet in the stirrups quickly and quietly.  Lead forward a few steps and if the horse is relaxed the rider can slowly sit up.  
Once the horse is used to the sensation of a rider mounting his back it is wise to get him used to standing quietly at a mounting block to be mounted, these early stages of training are vitally important and you must ensure good manners are taught from the very beginning.
Continue with mounting and walking a few steps quietly with a rider until the horse accepts this and you feel ready to move on to the next stage, riding away,  which we will be discussing in the next part.
Amanda Brewer is available for lessons and clinics, please call 07979 607 139.