If you’ve successfully followed Parts 1 & 2, you can now start, stop, and turn your horse in hand, in response to a clear set of aids in conjunction with your body language.
Your next step is to ask him to step backwards in clear, controlled steps.
As ever, ensure you have the correct equipment: sturdy boots (really important for this close-up work), gloves, and a bridle. You may also want to wear a safety helmet.
Reasons to teach Rein Back
One of the main benefits of in hand work is that you are teaching your horse how to use his body without having to contend with lifting or balancing a rider’s weight on his back. This is particularly beneficial for horses with
- a weak or stiff back
- weak core muscles
- damaged back muscles, often caused by incorrect posture when ridden, or saddle issues
- kissing spines and rehab from kissing spine treatments/surgery
- young horses who have not yet had a chance to develop the strength in their core muscles necessary to carrying a rider
Done correctly, rein back in hand
- is suppling to the horse’s back
- teaches him how to lift and round his back without the pressure of a rider’s weight on his back
- teaches him to engage his hindlegs further under his body, resulting in a lowered croup
- engages and strengthens his core muscles
- helps strengthen his entire postural muscle system, especially the weight carrying capacity of his haunches
- reinforces obedience, although it must never be used as a puishment
- prepares him to learn this important movement under saddle, and
- with a ground handler in addition to a rider, takes out the confusion and stress that may occur when he is first introduced to ridden rein back aids