Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: mastering rein back

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    I am still trying to find my feet since moving home. In some ways it is not how I thought it was going to be, but I think I had put too much pressure on myself and now that I am starting to relax a little bit and take a breath, (and do lots of advertising!) things are falling into place. It is of course quite a change from riding eight horses a day to just a couple.

    A few days after arriving at my new home, Poppy (pictured top) and I had a great training session with Peter Storr. I found another gear in the trot and happily entered the two mediums at West Wilts for the following Thursday.

    Sadly, the day before our first competition back home, Poppy was not 100% so I withdrew. Nearly a week on and we are just about back on track so will find a little party for her to go to soon.

    I am really excited as have just had news today that my car has arrived in the country! I decided (decision helped by not having any money) to lease a car instead of buying one. Before I left Denmark, I ordered a Skoda Fabia and it has taken five weeks, but should be arriving at Forest View any day now.

    Jeanette Stickland has been amazing and has let me use her car daily to get out to coach my clients.

    Queen Cleo taking an afternoon nap at the yard

    Queen Cleo getting comfortable in the sun at the yard

    Mastering rein back

    I have just started teaching one of my client’s horses that I ride to rein back. When you teach your horse to rein back, he should move back in a two-beat rhythm with diagonal pairs. He should go back straight with bent hind legs and should not drag his hooves.

    Before teaching the rein back, make sure your horse accepts the bit and will do transitions between walk and trot without resistance. He must also understand the half halt and stand quietly in the halt.

    I will always teach the rein back with a helper on the ground. The helper will lightly tap the horses’ front legs with a stick and guide him back straight so I can concentrate on giving the correct signal for the rein back.

    The horse should be in front of your legs at all times, even with the rein back. He must learn that when the leg aid is given but the hands do not give, he must go backwards. Slide your heel a little downwards and backwards as you put your leg on.

    When teaching your horse this exercise, it is helpful to have your upper body slightly forward so as not to have too much weight on the horses hind legs. The more established your horse becomes, the more upright you can be.

    Remember that when your horse has reacted to the aids by taking a step back, you relax, give and then repeat the signal. This is very important so that your horse does not go against the hand or run backwards and that it remains a collecting exercise.

    It is very important, as with every exercise, to praise your horse when he understands and responds correctly. The helper can reward the horse with every step he takes. I also find it helpful to pick one place in the arena against the side (this helps with straightness) until the horse understands my signals.

    Continued below…

    Read more of Shaun’s blogs

    Mother’s Day

    family time...Pringle not missing out!

    Family time… Pringle is not missing out!

    Well, I hope all your wonderful mothers had a super Mother’s day! I surprised my Mum by driving down to Bournemouth and appearing at the restaurant unannounced, where my brother and his girlfriend had taken my folks out for lunch.

    Mum loves surprises so that went down well!

    Until soon xx

    Body mind mastery quote (I love this one!) — “Life was never meant to be a struggle, just a gentle progression from one point to another, much like walking through a valley on a sunny day” — Stuart Wilde

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