For safety, disengaging a horse’s rear is of paramount importance from
the very beginning. Additionally, turning a horse’s rear away from you automatically brings his face toward you – a very important maneuver in many, many training lessons.
Standing in front of and to the side of your horse (45 degrees to his shoulder), begin to pressure his rear with your gaze and body position looking intently at his rear. Now become even more formidable by pointing to his hind quarters. If necessary, twirl your rope at his rear showing intent to move into him. The intense position you adopt will encourage him to “hide” his hindquarters from your predatory gaze.
Carry your action forward and begin to step into his rear space (staying 45 degrees to his side and in front of his haunches to stay away from striking distance). Most horses will continue to turn their hindquarters away from you as long as you “chase” them with the intense stare and purposeful movement.
If, however, he does not move, swing the popper end of your lead to tap his rump steadily and systematically. Start slow and low and build pressure, getting harder and harder until he moves his rear away, “tap, tap, tap, tap Tap, Tap, TAP, TAP!”. Accept a baby step move away at first. Stop tapping immediately, drop your predatory stance. Step back.
As he catches on to the fact that if he moves, you will stop, he will move his hindquarters away more quickly. Start asking for more steps in a row. Then move faster. Then FASTER until he is literally kicking up dirt to stay ahead of you. If you catch him, tap him on the fanny with conviction. When he beats you to the turn and is facing you directly on (looking at you squarely from the front) stop and back away. He is now perfect.
Look down at the sand. If he has done his job properly, you will see that his close front foot has drilled a hole in the dirt – never moving while his rear swung all the way around.
Your Rear Disengage is complete.
If you want to shape this exercise into a pivot on the fore, start asking him to pass his inside rear foot over his outside foot before you release. (See the rear cross in the last frame of the paint horse in the animation above and the cross-over of the grey mare below.)
Remember that as you introduce the new step, accept just one acceptable step-over and then release. He might have to take three or four steps before he does the correct step. Don’t release until he does the correct step-over.
The dance can be refined until he is making a complete pivot on his fore with the inside front leg “drilling” a hole into the ground while his rear legs cross over around the complete 360 degree maneuver.
Lucky Star’s rear-disengage is fast as lightning with just a little intention body language and a point at her fanny. Her rear cross-over is also perfect.
Thank you Kristull Ranch in Austin, Texas for pictures.
Horse training can be dangerous. Not all methods work on all horses. Instruction presented here is not meant to be prescriptive in nature, and Horse-Pros.com takes no responsibility for the welfare of any animal or person using our methods.
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