Trotting up hills to build back muscles
I'm super excited that my barn has finally cut some trails to allow us to ride outside the arena, with the added bonus that there are some gentle rolling hills. While it's not miles and miles of trails, a couple of laps around the trail gets her working up a good sweat and gives her a few opportunities for that desirable up-and-down workout. My mare is 19 and pretty weak backed, and I think this is finally the ideal to help build up those back muscles.
One question though- in our initial work trotting hills, when I've gone into 2-point, I find that this really makes her stumble forward and get even heavier on the forehand than she naturally is (and she already doesn't have a lot of power from behind). Because I feel like my position is counterproductive right now in getting her so unbalanced, I've taken to just continuing to post up the hills.
Any advice on how I can work on this and what I should be aiming for to maximize the benefit to her?
actually holding them to a walk going up hills is more work and helps build muscle.
I agree with Joe. Keep in mind the horse is 19, not 9.
Encourage your horse to really stretch out. If you are having them trot up hills and they are off balance, go back to the walk. Focus on getting that nice and steady before you move up to the next gait.
Interesting feedback. When people see her back (and saggy broody belly), I get lots of advice to get her trotting up hills. I am certainly aware of her age, and while she'll never look like an on-the-muscle performance horse, vet and chiro both think she could stand to strengthen up those muscles with reasonable exercise.
But, I do agree with Sky that if she's getting too unbalanced at the trot going uphill, really getting her working properly at the walk is a good next step.
Thanks for taking the time to share your recommendations!
Also, backing a horse up a hill builds the abdominal muscles, which support and lift the belly, thus the back.
Along with everything that's been said- just focus on her when you trot her up a hill opposed to make her walk long and low- they really have to push harder at the slower gait, you get more out of it. I'm doing the exact same thing with Max now.
When they trot, they just flit up the hill without their booty ;)
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Walk for muscle
Trot for balance
Canter for wind
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