Loping up hills.
I have a gelding that is very nice and listens very well but when I take him up a hill or through a ditch he always lopes up the incline. If I hold him back then he will stop and stand still no matter how steep it is but if I don't hold him back he will lope up. I've tried slowing him down but his only speeds are stop and a slow lope that is slower than a walk. Now it doesn't scare me or really bother me except that I believe that I should be the one picking which gait we are in. On flat ground his transitions are beautiful. Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.
my horse does the same thing, and i see what you mean by you should be picking the gaits, i figured out though that because the way my horses body is put together its more comfortable for him to lope up the hill and lope or trot down the hill, sometimes my horse walks up or down a hill but it depends on how good he feels that day, my horse is not old at all in fact he's not even done with his training, but like with people sometimes we change the way we do things so its not so strenuous on our bodies, now i don't even walk up or down a hill i find it more comfortable to 'trot' in the human way lol
you can correct this if you really want to or if you rule out that its not a matter of him being uncomfortable, he might not know how to walk up a hill and carry a passenger, just a thought
Depending on the situation, I always let me horse canter (lope) up hills. I figure that it's more comfortable for him (would you rather walk up a hill or run? which feels better?)
If it's a really steep hill that we're going down, I make him walk, and will give some half halts if I feel him speeding up. But I also give him his head and let him choose which way he wants to go down.
This is a very dangerous habit to have. If you are going up a hill and you are unable to control his speed, it is not hard to imagine an encounter with a tree limb or even a large boulder either of which would end badly for you and your horse. Most of the time, this is a learned extention of a natural behavior. Young horses will naturally want to go a little faster going up hills because of the weight they are carrying and they want to get some momentum up. If it is allowed to continue up every hill, then it will become a learned behavior. I suggest that when you go up hills, the instant that he starts to lope, pull him to a stop. When he has stopped and is calm, signal for a walk. If he starts to lope again or even trot, start the process all over again. Make him continue to stop and start until he is unsure when you are going to stop him. This will generally slow a horse down because they will be moving "with their brakes on". It will probably take a long time to get him over that but this should teach him to listen to you instead of look at the hill ahead. Just keep it up and when he does finally just walk up a hill, praise him enormously. Good luck and don't get discouraged if it takes more than a few times.
I just wanted to add, that if I want to walk up a hill, I can. Just sometimes, if I know the trail and want to have the thrill of cantering up a hill, I'll do it.
I do agree with you Smrobs that it can be dangerous.
i would say that you do need to address this issue. That is a saftey issue. You should make your horse specially WALK down hills and straight..i know horses that "jig" going down hills because its easier for them...also much easier to trip which is not fun!
I'd like to just say, it is easier for the horse to trot or canter (lope as western riders call it) up the hill. I think if any horse has the choice to walk up a steep hill or canter up it, they would choose canter because it is definately easier.
I let my horse canter up most hills when I trail ride as long as that doesn't mean leaving behind the people behind me or running over the people infront of me.
It also helps build muscles in their hind-quarters and topline (if they go up correctly).
Going down hills is not a problem, he always walks down.
I wouldn't mind the fact that he lopes up hills other than the fact that he carries his head farely high in general so when I'm going up a hill I feel like he is going to hit me in the head.
I understand what you are saying about it being more comfortable for him but all the horses I have ridden before as well as my friends horses all trot up hills. I would much rather trot up a hill.
I also agree that on foot I would much rather jog or run up the hill than walk as I would get tired faster walking and its much faster to run.
The funny thing is that he always feels so light on his feet that it takes some getting used to whereas my mare who used to be my main horse feels very solid.
Now I don't know what to do. Should I change it or leave it. It makes sense to change it for safety sake but maybe he is just more comfortable loping in which case that is fine too.
well really then i guess its up to you. if you are ok with it then just go with it. and also...consider the people you are riding with. if your horse started loping up a hill and some one elses horse started and the rider wasnt ready for it or wasnt confident with it...that could be an issue as well...horses will follow other horses...
I'd say find a hill with a small path and put one horse infront of you and another behind you and stay inbetween then. Your horse, unless doing a really slow canter, won't be able to go faster than the pace infront of the other horse.
Also what bit are you using? If you say a simple half-halt is making him stop, possibly the bit is way too strong and harsh
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