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Re: [RC] Walking Down Hills - Diane Trefethen

Hi Michelle,

As many horses get in better and better condition combined with gaining experience at rides, they are less and less happy about going what THEY consider too slowly. It sounds like your mare is already dialing in what an LD is and knows she can do it faster than you are letting her. So it's time for two things.

First, you need to practice trotting downhill. You want her to move slowly and in as collected a frame as is appropriate to the slope of the hill. This takes weight off the front end and also allows her to maintain better control over her entire body. If she moves with her back parallel to the hill, her center of gravity is forward of the saddle and you too are pitched forward. This puts more strain on the forehand and interferes with her keeping her balance. Most horses don't move down hill perfectly and that's okay. It is the collection and teaching her to set back more that is important. Once you can cue her to drop from a working trot on the flat to a slow collected trot down hill, you will have added a valuable tool to your choices in how to handle hills. Furthermore, when you come to those hills where trotting would be totally inappropriate, if you cue her to walk, she will be more likely to listen to you since from her perspective you are not being unreasonable and asking to walk ALL the downs.

The second thing to think about is moving up to 50's. If your mare is starting to think, "Hey... I can do this whole 25 mile ride at a trot/lope" and she is fit enough that she probably can, you need to up the ante, ie, do a 50 mile ride. If you let her get comfortable with LDs she will become sure that that's all there is. Consequently she will want to move faster and faster because she knows she can. There is also the danger of her becoming convinced that there is ONLY Limited Distance so that if/when you do decide to do a 50, she will be so sure that the ride is only 25 miles, that she'll blow most of her wad on that first 25, either through excessive speed or just plain fighting you every step of the way. Then when she has to go out to do the 2nd 25 miles, she'll be behind the curve.


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[RC] Walking Down Hills, Michelle Aquilino