How to use hills for work?

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How to use hills for work?

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  • Incorporating hill work in conditioning horse
  • Eventing hill work

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    08-11-2012, 11:31 AM
How to use hills for work?

I've finally moved my horse to a farm with better facilities... and hills. In the past I have spent at least 3 days a week working Primo out in the fields, a lot of trotting, some canter and gallop work. However, the hill grade was minimal, couple dips, but nothing I couldn't personally run up.

The new farm has some pretty nice hills, and they are long. It takes us a few minutes to trot up to the top. I've been working him on them since day 2. Yesterday was the first day I let him canter a portion and was alarmed at how winded he was. It was like we just got done running an XC course.

Now I'm concerned I may be pushing him too hard or doing this wrong. Does anyone incorporate hill work into their routine? Do I stick to trotting? Should I be cantering?

My coach is in MD, and she suggested that I start working on his stamina since he came off the last event feeling like he was running on E.
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    08-11-2012, 09:11 PM
I'd just work your way up to cantering like you've been. Trot say the first half then canter the second half and as his endurance grows increase the length of the canter until he's cantering the whole thing. Personally I do a LOT of trot work because Roxy tends to get very quick and strong out of the ring so trotting is more controlled... She could canter for days though.

Who do you train with, if you don't mind my asking? I'm in northern MD, like 15 minutes from the PA line.
    08-17-2012, 08:43 PM
My horse has weak hind-end muscles and so he trot up hills EVERYDAY. Muscle-wise trotting is better than cantering because there is more pushing from behind. If you're worried about fitness- use your judgement. My horse is pretty fit and cantering up hills makes him sweat! Remember that even the most fit athletes still get out of breath. If it is really bad I would do trot sets- Start by trotting for 10 minutes and taking a five minute walk break then repeating this for about an hour. Then, as he gets mor fit, work your way up. I do 20 minutes of trotting, 5 minutes canter, 5 minutes walk for an hour and a half - 2 hours with my boy.
    08-17-2012, 09:01 PM
I would do more trotting than cantering, at least on the more gentle slopes. A nice forward connected trot really builds a nice butt and really helps them find their balance. For the steeper hills, I go let my horse canter since trotting those is really hard. In the beginning, just take frequent breaks to let him get his air back before moving on again. Friendly warning, if your horse starts to choose to trot up steeper hills, you have built an over muscled monster!
    08-17-2012, 09:54 PM
In my experience, trot work on hills is actually more beneficial than cantering them. Every day when we hack out back, we trot up and down the steeper hills a few times to build muscle. It doesn't tire him much anymore, but I can really feel him reach for contact and bring his back up so his hindquarters can push him forward up those steeper hills.
    08-17-2012, 11:38 PM
Originally Posted by hflmusicislife    
Who do you train with, if you don't mind my asking? I'm in northern MD, like 15 minutes from the PA line.
I'm curious, too! I'm in Frederick.
    08-17-2012, 11:43 PM
Originally Posted by DancingArabian    
I'm curious, too! I'm in Frederick.
Wow, small world! I have family in Frederick. We actually tried out an eventer there a few years ago.
    08-17-2012, 11:44 PM
Originally Posted by equiniphile    
Wow, small world! I have family in Frederick. We actually tried out an eventer there a few years ago.
Very small :)

I used to live in KY (Lexington then Frankfort) and my coworker is from Ohio.
    08-17-2012, 11:55 PM
Oooh I'm a hill expert, I used to be surrounded by them . They're fabulous for conditioning. Lots of hill work in walk walk walk, then long sustained trot trot trot, then canter when your horses fit. Don't underestimate how hard cantering up a hill is - do it when your horse has the leg strength and the stamina - less likelihood of injury then.

    08-18-2012, 03:39 PM
Trots are probably the most beneficial part of conditioning your event horse.

I'd start off by doing two 10 minute trot sets, and then gradually work your way up to two 15 minute sets. In between each set have a 3 minute walk break. You'll build up not only his stamina but his wind and cardio as well. What level are you running right now? I'd suggest doing one set of canters a week, but the amount of time in each set will really depend on what level you're going. For novice-training (depending on the horse) usually three 4's is pretty good. For a horse that has a harder time keeping its fitness up I'd probably do 4-5-4. For preliminary you want them easily doing three 6's with a 10-15 minute trot before and after.

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