Young horse hates going downhill!! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 12-30-2010, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Young horse hates going downhill!!

I have a three and a half year old gelding that I'm training myself. I purchased him as a yearling, and for the first year and a half, I walked him in hand on the trails around our property. Even without a rider, he always got very antsy about walking downhills, prancing, sidling into the brush at the edge of the trail, etc. I started him under saddle about six months ago, and he's basically doing very well, but he's even worse about going downhill with a rider! As soon as we approach the top of a hill, he starts flaring his nostrils and acting nervous. He does the weirdest things as we head downhill! He tries to turn around and go back, runs into the brush beside the trail, shakes his head, breaks into a trot down the hill, etc. Sometimes he will even stop and back up into the brush and trees along the road as if he's trying to escape it! Has anyone experienced this and if so, have they found a solution, other than just keeping at it. Our trails are very rocky and I realize he may be afraid of slipping, but there isn't anything I can do about them!
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post #2 of 10 Old 12-30-2010, 02:15 PM
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All I could think is that there is some sort pain caused only by the change is pressure to the joints that occurs onlly when going downhill . Uphill is ok?

I think chiropractor might know what's going on. You certainly could not go on with him without finding out.
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post #3 of 10 Old 12-30-2010, 02:33 PM
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It sounds as though he is not balanced - I would say probably heavy on the forehand.

Have you tried to serpentine down the hill? I do that with my young horses to lessen the panic factor.

Also - how are you sitting? What are your hands doing? You do not want to lean and cause him to have to balance you as well as himself. You also do not want to be in his face so he can't shif his head and neck to balance himself.
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post #4 of 10 Old 12-30-2010, 02:43 PM
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Mls has a good point, that's just what I was thinking.

I would also check your saddle fit. If it's already a little off and is sliding forward going downhill it could be partially causing this.
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post #5 of 10 Old 12-31-2010, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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I always lean back as far as possible to help him balance, and keep my hands light so he can make his own way down. I guess I haven't really tried the serpentine yet but I will. And I hadn't really thought that he might have joint problems because he's young and I figured he was just scared of the hill. Thanks for all your ideas and suggestions!
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post #6 of 10 Old 12-31-2010, 02:59 PM
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Hunter is almost the same age and he also hates to go downhill though the more we do it the better he is getting. I agree that it is probably a balance issue. I also think Hunter didn't like to do it cus it made him work more than the flats and he can be a lazy boy. lol
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-01-2011, 07:46 PM
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Just make sure to sit deep and steady. Also don't approach the hill thinking that he's' going to struggle. Go towards the confidently. Try having some contact with the bit to stabilize him.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-02-2011, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-02-2011, 11:46 AM
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I would say he just needs more of it. Is there a pasture that you can turn him out in that is very rough and up and down? This is something that you see more often in horses raised in pens and small paddocks that never learn to travel in rough country. I make it a point to keep mares and foals and young horses in the roughest pastures I have access to. They cross creeks and go up and down steep hills every day. They grow up knowing how to handle their feet, so it is not a matter of training with them. Horses raised on the flat have to be taught and have to have confidence instilled in them.

I have had to make trail horses out of these helpless ones many times. I just head out into the canyons south of where I live and go 10 or 15 miles at a time in the roughest country I can find. There are places we skid down that are so steep they keep sliding if they try to stop. We cross creeks where they have to hop down 2 or 3 feet from the bank into the water.

By the time they have gone on a few rides, they have enough confidence in me and in their ability to go anywhere I point their heads, that they never even hesitate. Some horses just don't volunteer to be train horses -- they are 'made'.
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-02-2011, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Well, you pegged that right, he does live in a small, relatively level paddock. I don't have access to any large pasture. I guess I thought that a year and a half of walking him in hand up and down these steep, rough hills and 6 months of riding him on same would have "cured" him by now.
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