How to Back Up on a Horse

No matter what riding style you do, backing up can be very useful for you and your horse. It may seem complicated at first, but after a little practice it will be simple.


  1. 1
    Push your heels down and lean back.
  2. 2
    Apply steady pressure to the bit. Don't pull hard on the reins, just grip firmly and pull back with as little pressure as your horse will respond to.
    • Don't pull and release on and off. Just pull and hold.
  3. 3
    Lift your legs forwards to help you lean back more. This is optional depending on how well the horse can read your cues, but may need to be exaggerated if the horse still doesn't know what you're asking.
  4. 4
    Use your (or, the horse's) verbal command for backing. Keep asking verbally and with your body until the horse backs.
    • Realize that if you're working a young horse, or a new horse for you, you shouldn't ask too much of them at first. Have him back a few steps, then reward him! Gradually increase the amount the horse backs until he does so without a problem.
  5. 5
    Reward the horse as soon as he backs for you! Mainly do this by releasing the pressure on the bit and re-shifting your weight, but also by using verbal praises and a few scratches to the withers.
    • The newer the horse is to backing, the more you should praise him when he reacts correctly. With a more experienced horse, the release of the pressure on the bit should be enough of a reward.


  • Don't give up on asking if your horse won't back, but don't fight him either. Just keep pulling until he understands and gives you what you want.
  • Once you get the knack of it, try backing in curves or around corners.
  • Some horses are also cued to back by having the rider nudge gently with their legs.

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Categories: Riding