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Re: Horse is a poor downhill walker

Leigh said:
>Taking it real easy and slow with even small dips.
>Not only does this build rearend strength, it develops the coordination it
>takes to walk down steep slopes.  I also use a voice command each time we go
>downhill or over tricky ground.  the voice cue means: "slow down, watch your
>feet, take your time".  Also, you should not put your feet out in front of
>while the horse goes down the hill.  You should sit deeply, lean back some
>balance, but keep your legs on the horse.  This encourages them to reach
>themselves better.  With practise, all the horses I've had will eventually do
>downhills very well.  It can take a year or more to teach depending on how
>many hills you have available in your normal riding.  Just take your time and
>don't rush to the big hills too soon.  Begin with every little slope you
>encounter, even ditches.

We have a *lot* of hills in this area and this is also how I start green
horses down the hills.  When I started Blaze this spring, he flat out
refused the first steep hill he encountered and I ended up getting off and
walking with him.  I honestly think *he* didn't think he could do it!  Next
time out he was able to go down the hills but very slowly and awkwardly.  I
had to keep a check on the reins fairly consistently since he wasn't strong
in the rear end yet and would have a tendency to start rushing on his
forehand -- and I didn't want us both landing on our faces. ;-)  By the of
the season he was able to navigate the steepest of hills under his own
power with very little if any contact (only an occasional "slooow, take it
easy" or a rein check to slow him a bit.)  His confidence in his abilities
was also quite apparent and he was then able, also, to trot and canter more
gradual slopes with the overall body conditioning to stay under control and
not abnormally stress himself.  

Blue, on the other hand, had a bit more arena conditioning before we headed
out so it was never much of an issue...but then she approaches most
everything with a "You want me to go here?  Welllll........okay." type of
attitude.  She's more confident naturally -- so I really think there's a
lot of mental attitude that enters in here right from the
she's got really stout and strong coupling, and rear end and upper leg
muscling so she's more naturally able to navigate the hills.

Tyee Farm
Marysville, Wa.

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