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How To Do a Rein Back


Rein Back or Backing Up

A rein back, or backing up with the horse's alternate legs stepping back.

K. Blocksdorf 2006
There may be instance where it is handy to back your horse up, or if you show you may have to demonstrate a rein back to the judge. Here is how to cue your horse to back up.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 minutes or more

Here's How:

  1. Halt and let your horse stand quietly for a moment.
  2. Cue your horse with your seat and legs as if asking your horse to walk.
  3. Gently squeeze back with your hands at the same time as you cue with your legs, preventing the forward motion. (You can quietly use a voice command such as “back”.) Don’t let your hands lift, and keep even tension on the reins. A squeeze, soften, squeeze, soften motion on the reins may be more effective than a straight pull back.
  4. The horse should step back with one diagonal pair of legs, and then the other. Only ask for a few steps.
  5. Release the tension on the reins when your horse has obeyed, and let the horse walk forward a few steps.
  6. If your horse resists the cue, work from the ground so he can learn to balance and understand your voice command. Head tossing may also mean the horse doesn’t know how to balance while backing up or you could be pulling the reins too assertively. If the horse turns or swings out be sure you are cuing with the same pressure on both sides and that your hands are even on the reins.


  1. Keep your back and hips flexible. Don’t stiffen up.
  2. Look straight ahead; don’t dip your chin down.

What You Need

  • Your horse tacked up and ready to ride.
  • Your helmet and safety stirrups or safe boots.
  • A flat riding surface. It’s difficult for a horse to back up on uneven grou
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How to Rein Back

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