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Does training them to back up before the roll back teach a horse to anticipate to back up instead of rolling back?

Original Question

Hi Angie.
I’m just wondering when working on the roll back after the stop and then backing up before rolling back will teach a horse to anticipate backing up before rolling back?

You know how you can’t do any more than 2 backward steps in the stop and roll back when you are competing so my question is, does training the roll back off the back up teach them to do this?
Thank you for your time,

John’s Answer

Great question Lisa.

The idea of backing before the roll back is to transfer their weight off their front end onto their back end before the roll back. I want them to anticipate rocking weight onto their backend while I turn them.   That way, they don’t bottle turn and lose their back end to the outside and also risk trotting out of the turn or even jumping out too early.

Once they get the idea of this, I start watering it down over time to the point where I don’t need to back up at all.  As long as you’re clear with your cues when backing up by sitting square and straight with both legs of pressing into your stirrups, opposed to the roll back cue where you turn your shoulders in the direction you want to turn adding the neck rein across their neck while resting your outside leg against your horses side.

You’ll use the outside leg more to drive them out of the turn rather than the start at the turn. Over time, they will anticipate rocking back when you roll back and you won’t need to back up.
Hope this helps, John



Angie Wicks

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