I've been making Lacey trot more as of late and I'm pretty sure I have posting on flat ground pretty well down and posting going uphill is a work in progress but it's coming along.
BUT, posting downhill is my enemy.
Even on a very shallow incline downwards I'm allll over the place. If I try to post leaning backwards slightly (aka, if there were no horse I'd be upright, etc so not really "backwards" but it feels backwards), I find myself falling back into the saddle really hard. If I try just posting normal, I end up leaning forward over Lacey's neck and that can't be correct since my weight would inevitably encourage her to be on her forehand, and being on the forehand + going downhill = bad.
I do know that I do/did grip with my knees something awful when I post and I think I've gotten that fixed on flat ground for the most part. Going uphill is a little harder because her trot gets HUGE going up and I find myself gripping away with my knees, but I think I'm getting it (grabbing mane is my friend, haha).
However, downhill = evil.
Are there any tips or tricks I can try?
I'm riding in an stock saddle, if that's important to know. Also, Lacey's trot is certifiably "unsittable" (she makes ANY other horse feel like they have the flattest, smoothest trot ever) so there's really not the option of sitting. I've been coping by asking her to walk down hills but I'd like to try trotting down the non-scarily steep hills we come to, at some point, because I'm sure it'd be good for her (more thinking and all).
I would practice going up and hill in 2 point, so that you learn not to grip with your knees. Start at the walk, then move to the trot.
As for downhill, how is she walking down hill?
I 2-point going uphill sometimes... I find that when I 2-point, she seems to take that as an invitation to canter. I'm not sure why, but she does, pretty much every time. And then, I get all off balance trying to make her trot and it just turns into a mess. :lol: That probably just means that I really should 2-point more and get that old lady over whatever misconception she has about 2-pointing. haha!
She's great walking downhill- no rushing or any kind of speeding up, I'm just trying to "up" our level of difficulty. And if we're trotting along and she sees a little decline coming up, she's started slowing down to a walk on her own which is cute since she's apparently figured out "the rules" and while I'm not a huge fan of her making these executive decisions, I don't want to make her trot downhill and accidentally encourage this "we walk downhill" thinking thru my own incompetence.
I've realized that in the last couple of years, mainly since I started riding western (no offense to the lovely western riding folks out there), I just kinda stopped being a rider and became a passenger. I'm trying to get being a rider back! :)
Yep :) Definitely work on that 2-point. Also when she starts speeding up, sit back in the saddle softly and slow your seat down so she slows her feet down.. adding a few gentle (since she is going uphill and you don't want to knock her off balance) half halts until she slows to the trot, then go back into 2 point and stroke her neck as a reward. She'll get it!
As for downhill.. Walk down the hill first, trot up the hill.. then when you go down, start walking and then cue a trot 1/3 down the hill and control those feet! I would post by really make sure you aren't slamming into her back. Once she can handle 1/3 downhill at the posting trot (and you can too) then go for 1/2 and then all the way.
Horses can trot down hills freely in pasture, but with the saddle and you on their backs, it becomes much more difficult so she needs to "reprogram" her feet so she balances you.. and you need to help her with that by adding half halts appropriately.
Also remember not to drill on hills the entire time. When she gets it perfect, give her a nice break away from the hill, or make it a nice stopping point.
I know you guys will get this!
Also, do you have a trainer? Working with one will help you with that sitting trot. I thought I would NEVER do it on my horse as his trotting strides were ginormous like I felt like I was on a jet or rocketship or something. I actually taught myself how to sit trot and it became BETTER than my posting trot (because I had him on the bit, round, and really extending those legs)
But I know you'll get it down! :) Good luck! Just be careful with the strength of those half halts.
It is not bad practice for you to pull the horse back to walk when going down a steep hill. Even if the horse has studs fitted in the front shoes, there is the chance for the horse to slip on hard surfaces especially tarmac and certainly when there is a risk of frost. If the horse does slip then there is a risk of a torn check ligament which will take months to heal.
Remember a shod horse going down hill at speed on a hard surface has difficulty slowing down unless the shoes on the hind legs can dig in to the surface with the help of studs.
In the UK we would usually slow from the trot at the top of a hill and maintain a fast energetic walk for the downhill stretch. We would hold the horse back from trotting by riding collected - ie on shortened reins with a permanent but light restraining contact on the bit.
On the few occasions where trotting downhill might be possible - say on packed sand or dry earth down a forestry track - I personally would rise up off the saddle and take part of my weight on the stirrups.
Incidentally we would also rise up off the saddle seat to trot uphill so as to lighten the weight off the horse's back. Taking a handful of mane also helps.
The trot was developed for the military. It is a pace to move a body of cavalry in formation along a flat hard surface or across open flat ground. Its use nowadays will facilitate the fast movement of a horse or a group of horses along a country lane.
When out trail riding it is for the rider to choose the pace (gear) of the horse. Utimately you the rider are responsible for the well being of your horse's feet and ligaments. If you find downhill trotting at speed uncomfortable, then don't ask for the pace or slow the trot down to a jog (slow trot) into which you can more readily sit. If you are sitting to the trot you can restrain the horse's speed by squeezing your under thigh muscles (if you are using an English saddle).
The concussion on the front legs and feet of a horse of a horse trotting downhill is significant especially when you add the weight of the rider which will push the horse's centre of gravity forwards. In this way you risk bruising the soles of the horse's feet.
When going downhill the horse tends to be faster, therefore you need to speed up your posting to get in her rhythm. Riding downhill is not for a lazy rider, it takes work.
You will not bruise your horse's soles going downhill anymore than trotting on the flat.
I rarely trot going downhill, but sometimes, if I do, I suspend posting and just kind of stand in the stirrups and let the hrose move under me and try to stay so loose that I am kind of floppy, absorbing the jolts. I really dislike doing this, so don't do it much. Lazy rider.
UPhill, well lean forward and go for the mane.
One thing, having a horse stop partway down a hill, and back up a few steps is a very good training and strengthening excersize. If you can bring them to a stop within three steps, then ask them to back up three, then go forward a bit, then back up, it means the horse never gets really strung out and falling forward going down the hill. I also rarely let the horse run out the last bit at the bottom. I require them to walk the last bit and use their abs and hind end to keep themselves balanced and at a regular speed.
Ah! I forgot about this thread! Oops.
Sky- Thanks for the tips and ideas. I'll give some of them a try and see what happens. :) Thankfully, the hills we're riding are on the trails we go on regularly so they're just a part of what we end up doing. I've started incorporating a trail that has small uphills and small downhills where we can really get some long trotting over varying terrain and Lacey seem to be loving it. It's also been really really working me as a rider since I'm trying to stay out of her way while "helping" her through attempting to be an effective rider. So pretty much, no risk of drilling hills since they just happen on the trails we ride. :)
I do not have a trainer. I seriously wish I did. Most of the trainers around here take one look at my riding and get all impressed with what I've taught myself and never actually teach me anything. I'm not sure why that is since I'm really probably only a advanced beginning rider, technical knowledge-wise, with years of making things up as I go along.
I found one lady that I'd LOVE to take lessons from but she's located about 45 minutes away (and charges $60 a lesson) so unless I become rich really really soon, or someone gives me lessons as a gift, I'm out of luck for now. :(
That sounds like a great exercise Tiny! I'll have to give it a try.
Lacey generally throws a fit about backing up, up a hill. I'm pretty sure that she just doesn't like it since she has to work harder cuz we all know that Lacey doesn't like to work hard unless she wants to work hard. :lol: Alternatively, she doesn't like it because backing up takes her farther away from home. Either way, it's something we should, and can, work on.
I'm really trying to work on my own riding and not slumping into passenger mode so I really appreciate these tips.
Sadly, I haven't been able to ride since last Thursday which is really a bummer. And it'll be so long before I can ride again! Ah! I just realized that I have to wait until at least Saturday since Lacey has a kid coming for lessons on both Thursday and Friday and tomorrow I have a mountain of homework to finish before finals. Sad sad day. Well, I guess I'll have to keep all this goodness in mind for Saturday.
Also, mildly random question: if I've been lunging Lacey periodically during the week (which I have been) and she's going to be briefly (walk/trot) ridden by a kid on Friday, would it be too "Weekend Warrior"-ish to go on a 5 mile ride (mostly walking, 25ish minutes t/c) on Saturday? Should I just stick with my normal 2.5 mile ride to not be a jerk?
The first thing I'd do is work on my core and inner leg muscles, actually- I think the problem here (well, it was a problem for me, before...) is that when posting downhill, you're using normally unused muscles, and so you can't support yourself as well, and therefore have less balance. I'd do some core exercises with an exercise ball, and find a few for your inner leg (I don't have any off the top of my head, sorry!). I find that planks help a lot with building those core muscles I need for riding.
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