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Oldhorselady 04-27-2013 10:29 PM

Going down inclines on a trail
I am wondering if it's ok to trot down an incline, or should a horse always walk instead? How do you know if a horse is strong or balanced enough to trot under saddle down an incline?

When I ride my horse out on a trail and we come to the parts of the trail that are going down an incline, she trots. I try to hold her back since I'm not sure if she is strong enough to face this obstacle at a trot yet. It still makes me nervous that she will tumble. But, how do I know when/if she is?

smrobs 04-27-2013 11:14 PM

Most horses are capable of trotting down a hill without falling, given that the rider just stays out of their way and doesn't do something to compromise their balance, but I always teach my horses to walk down a hill because I feel that it puts too much stress on their front legs to trot down unless absolutely necessary.

What I do is whenever a horse starts to trot down a hill, I immediately stop them and keep them stopped for a minute before asking them to walk. Every time they start to trot, I do it again. When they finally start to walk down the hill, then I just let them go.

Oldhorselady 04-27-2013 11:20 PM

Yeah, I think you are right....I'm going to do the same thing, stopping her and backing then making her walk. Won't it build better muscle then too?

SorrelHorse 04-27-2013 11:25 PM

Smrobs, that is what I do as well, and may also back up or turn and go back up the hill.

While it's not impossible for a horse to trot or lope down a hill (Had a baby take off on me with ZERO remorse at fully speed down an incline..But, how about NO thank you to that one right?) but it does put a strain on them.

Going up and down hills are great ways to build muscle, though I prefer to long trot up hills than down.

trailhorserider 04-28-2013 12:10 AM

I always ask my guys to walk down hills. I never purposely trot down hills. But sometimes if it is just a little dip in the trail and I am not paying close enough attention they will sneak a trot in. :lol:

jamesqf 04-28-2013 12:12 AM

How much of an incline are we talking about here? I've always been told it's a bad idea on anything but a really gradual slope (but that might just be for inexperienced me). On some of the steeper ones, where the horse is working to keep from sliding, I certainly wouldn't even want to try.

PaintHorseMares 04-28-2013 05:52 AM

We walk down hills, too. The fields that I ride can have groundhog holes so we generally let the mares pick their path, but I would hate to be going downhill faster and have one catch an unseen hole.

franknbeans 04-28-2013 06:55 AM

I sometimes will make them zig zag a bit also to slow them....if there is room. Plus-for my older guy with some arthritis-it is easier.

Tracer 04-28-2013 07:07 AM

I ride my horse around a track that is on a slope, and sometimes I will trot him down the hill, though it isn't steep. I only ever do it once he's been working long enough to get all his muscles working, and I do it to work any muscles that don't get worked as hard at other times. Steeper, rocky slopes though, I walk.

Celeste 04-28-2013 07:49 AM

If it is an extreme hill, I make my horse walk because I am paranoid that she will step in a hole and tumble on down. If it is a wide open area with only slight incline, then I am not too worried what gait I am in just so I get to choose.

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