Serious Discussion 2....Backing a Youngster


New Member
Jul 14, 2007
Its almost 2.30 in the morning, cannot sleep as neck hurting so though I would start 'serious discussion No. 2'.

For those that 'have' done it and those that would 'like' to do it, lol. Lets see some different views on backing a Youngster.

Right, groundwork done as in, horse leads, yields to pressure, has been out and about in all sorts of situations, bitted and has worn full tack quite happily, long reined (if thats what you would do) etc., etc.,......How would YOU go about the intial backing and follow on over the
next month?
Last edited:


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
I know it sounds like I'm avoiding a straight answer but it really does depend on the horse! Here's my experiences with my two:

Jim I asked the couple who ran my yard to do, they were very experienced at backing & early schooling. Although I'd done the groundwork I knew that there could still be fireworks with him & he wasn't likely to give many second chances. He needed someone very experienced & good. I did watch a lot of what they did. Initially he was just sat on & talked to with the rider keeping low. Then the rider sat up. Then he was walked a few steps on a sort lunge rein. Then further, still on a short lunge. Then the lunge played out a little. Everything was done in little steps over several days & nothing was taken further until he was perfectly happy with what he was doing. Once he was happy & listening to the rider rather than the handler he came on really quickly but he wasn't allowed out of the school until estabilshed in halt, walk, trot & canter. He's a big, strong horse who's very clever & willing but sharp & not always the most confident.

Little Un I did myself, not that he needed much doing. Again I did all the groundwork, but in his case it was going through the motions. Just decided to get on him so got a friend he knew to hold him. Got on, sat up, let him lick my toes & he ambled off on the lead rein as though he'd been doing it all his life. Once he had halt & walk from the rider he went out for walkies with a friend on foot, then mounted company, then by himself. New things have generally been taught out hacking as that's where he's happiest. He's a much calmer natured horse than Jim, nothing much seems to flap him (except late feeds!) & if you're confident then so's he, but the flip side is he's not as clever & he's not got the same willingness (almost desperation) to please.

Both are nice, responsive rides now. LU I could put almost anyone on despite only being 5 & having done very little for his age, Jim will always be more of a one person horse.


Apr 29, 2002
Ideally its an ongoing process over a fair time. Getting used to tack, longreining, taking horse out and about (we do a few inhand shows for experience) sitting on, getting on and off with and without saddle all take place while doing routine things for a few months.

By the time we actually get on with intent to 'ride' the horse will be going willingly forward from the ground and very used to humans appearing above them. With our own we would then gradually increase the 'listening to rider' and decrease the ground help both in the school and around our own tracks on their own and with another horse.

If we get a horse in for starting we have to condense this and the bit that gets lost is the field time for the horse to think about the last stage before meeting the next which is alright with some but not for all.


Active Member
May 4, 2009
west yorkshire
Am reading this with great interest as I will be backing Spirit next year:D
Would you mount for the first time with a saddle or without ????
Please keep your opinions coming as there are a few of us on here backing fairly soon ;)


Apr 29, 2002
We do leg up without saddle in stable, slide round and stay low to start with after lying over, easy to slide straight off if it all goes pearshaped.

Please make sure your stable has lots of headroom though and it is a place your horse is relaxed in!!!


Well-Known Member
May 27, 2007
My 'first' horse was one I bought as a 2yr old and backed myself. She was a bit of a mix being TB/Welsh/New forest. Unfortunately she had to be sold when she had only really grasped the basics.

Piccolo - She has done groundwork since day one really, leads nicely and moves to pressure and to suggested pressure backwards, forwards, sideways, forehand and quarters. She has been tacked up and worn all the bits and bobs she's ever likely to encounter including boots, even carrier bags etc. (ever been on a hack where one's blown across a road at you - scary!) She can be touched anywhere which i also personally think is important.

She has also been shown in hand and would have been regardless of what she looked like as i think it helps them experience new things.

She has also been sat on (by a 3 and 4yr old) bareback (rider kept low and sitting forward and eventually sitting upright.

Pic has been walked out in hand extensively over and in everywhere both naked and fully tacked up, although has been kept to no more then twice a week, sometimes twice a month!

Next stage is to introduce lunging and long reining (and continuing voice commands) and to then get her long reining out and about everywhere imaginable both with and without a helper near her.

Hopefully this will bring us to early next spring (she won't do much over jan-mar as the weather gets rubbish! and it's me that hates getting wet lol) then next spring she'll do another few in hand shows and be 'backed' properly with a small rider to start with on lead rein/lunge line with the use of voice commands and then gradually aids and voice commands. Gradually the 'aids' will replace the constant voice/handler aids.

Will, to start with, concentrate on walk and trot, particularly transitions as this helps teach the aids. would also include some simple lateral work and turns on forehand/quarters and then would progress to canter work. At this point would probably do most work while hacking rather then school work. I think a years worth of mainly hacking is great for youngsters!!


New Member
Jul 14, 2007
Its great to hear peoples views and how they would do it. I have never
'done' the Youngster thing on my own before but have helped with others and helped a friend with her Arab, she did things in her own 'unique' way, and convention flew out the window. I don't think she would actually be able to tell anyone how to deal with a Youngster, she just
'does it' lol.

She was a great one for building a bond, although I am not sure that was
something she intentional did, but her Horses always had the greatest respect for her. She would almost have the 'dog/owner' relationship with her Horses and they would have followed her to the end of the earth.

With the last one she backed, an Arab, we were out and about, me on my
Arab, her leading her Youngster in full tack. She suddenly said 'know what,
I really can't face that walk back, I am gonna ride him back' and that
was exactly what she did. Climbed aboard and hacked him back, all
thro' the traffic etc. Apart from the initial 'where did my Mum go, I can
hear her but can't see her, lol, he didn't batt an eyelid';)

She was a pleasure to watch in action with her Horses, and I guess because
she never made any 'big deal' about ANYTHING tbh, her Horses never seemed to either. That Arab is 17 now, lol.

In fact, only a few weeks ago she said to me 'I hacked Shim
out yesterday' now he hadn't been ridden for 2 years and when I commented
on that she said 'yes he has, I rode him once last year':p;) when I asked if
he had been OK, the reply was, a little bit puzzled 'Yeah, why wouldn't he be?':D

In a way thats what I am hoping to achieve with Sioned a this is 'no big deal'
attitude, and so far, fingers crossed, it seems to be working;)

Keep the replies coming....
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2004
see, i would never, EVER have contemplated doing what eml mentions and hoping on and off in a stable (i'm by no means saying it's wrong, but it would have been wrong for my horse). My horse would have killed me! his response to stress is to run and kick. My friend (who has used that kind of method) advised me not to as i'd end up a red smear on the stable wall. we spent from age 2/3 to age 5 putting the groundwork, lungeing, long lining in place. He went to a show, was hacking in hand etc. We moved from lungeing with tack to lungeing with stirrups. We also did work on him carrying a feed sack so he got used to stuff above him. we then had a rider leaning, then leaning and moving, then she sat astride and eventually sat up. The getting to the point of the rider sitting up was about 4 weeks, doing 3-4 short sessions a week. a few weeks later he was hacking at walk, trot and canter. i completely agree with carthorse, you have to read the horse and tailor your approach to suit.


New Member
May 25, 2008
Have only backed a shettie, well my daughter did the actual backing.

May have been very lucky but he was an absolute doddle, didn't bat an eye at any thing.:):)


New Member
Jul 14, 2007
I must admit I would never back a Horse in a stable either as eml does,
she does say about stable height but I would much rather be outside in
the open.

Much rather 'hit the dirt' than the 'ceiling' lol.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
OwnedbyChanter serious discussion number 3 Training of the Horse and Rider 14
fairlady Lets have a more 'serious' discussion. Training of the Horse and Rider 31
R I need serious emotional help. Older Riders 13
Huggy Hogan now on serious diet! Horse Care 80
N In Minutes, Your Not Serious Training of the Horse and Rider 19
Billy Confession (a bit serious please help) Cafe 20
B Serious accident whilst out hacking... Hacking 10
OwnedbyChanter Going to need some serious NR help soon I finally got some good news Cafe 48
T Near Miss and Serious Wobbles.... Cafe 12
D WARNING to all horse owners - serious threat to ALL horses in the UK :( Cafe 5
Roxy's Mum I am SO angry and frustrated *warning: serious vent* Cafe 15
fairlady ARE YOU SERIOUS? hands-up who has done this.. Cafe 30
diplomaticandtactful This is Now Getting Serious - Wally Help Please Training of the Horse and Rider 37
ladywiththebaby Can a serious competition pony become a hack? Cafe 4
denisextilly **serious addiction ** Cafe 16
Nimbus65 I need a serious talking to Cafe 14
Lemme Serious work getting ready to ride....... Cafe 1
T Serious Advice Needed Training of the Horse and Rider 9
Cortrasna Im back and need serious kick up the posterior! Cafe 22
Maggiemooo Is life just getting too serious?? Cafe 13
xJenniferx Oops, the rather serious issue of my horses weight Metabolic 11
annareeves0 Serious message but made me chuckle Cafe 2
J Moved yard :) But need serious help (N) Cafe 4
Snowyboy Is this serious? Hoof Care 12
sharons star Serious Help Needed Training of the Horse and Rider 10
horsy Spillers? Are you SERIOUS? Metabolic 17
S Dry cough during trotting- is it serious? Veterinary,Injuries and Therapies 1
MrsCarter The vet has been to Elouise!!! very very happy but need some serious advice :D Horse Care 14
M Help! Serious thread from me for once 'vids' Veterinary,Injuries and Therapies 36
J Like this horse too but he has sarcoids - how serious are they? Veterinary,Injuries and Therapies 10
rach4uk4 serious dilema, can NH help?? Training of the Horse and Rider 64
Emerald_city Ok I need serious ideas now ... Training of the Horse and Rider 32
tasha Help! BOAT near me needs some serious work Hacking 14
beanz's mum Is anyone on here a serious rider...? General 71
Tasel I need serious cheering up... General 10
Shannon_Clover Foal Injuries - Warning! Serious skin injury pics General 22
Wally Something SERIOUS to bear in mind General 137
fairlady Ok, I Need Some Serious Advice Here General 65
Laura2184 Serious help needed..again.. Training of the Horse and Rider 20
D Serious advice being sought Training of the Horse and Rider 41
Rarah Are protein bumps serious? Horse Care 1
T Help please - serious bolting problem General 32
L Anyone else having serious hay buying problems? General 26
X Help ! Im Outta The Saddle Till August Due 2 Serious Injury !! Sos General 2
Wally In serious training! Using weights! Other Disciplines 4
Nayds Are you serious???? *video General 5
Stella2 BBC News: Riders 20 times more likely to sustain serious injury than motor cyclists! General 31
crazyhorse97 Cribbing~~How serious?? General 10
C In serious need of help and support!! General 9
pepsimaxrock serious injury, what to do now Older Riders 32

Similar threads