Head up or down when riding downhill? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Question Head up or down when riding downhill?

I've received conflicting advice in this area...when you are riding downhill and the terrain is steep (like a ravine) and muddy, what is your best and safest bet for your horse? Should you have him keep his head up, or let him do whatever he wants with his head to get down the hill? Here are the two sets of advice I've been given so far...

1. Head up -- if you let your horse put his head all the way down, he could stumble and end up flipping over.

2. Head down/whatever horse wants -- if you force his head to stay up, it disrupts his balance...he needs to be able to put his head down to stay centered and to be able to tuck his hindquarters underneath him to "slide" downhill if necessary.

As you can see, both bits of advice contradict each other...can anyone back up either of the above, or offer their own advice?? I have a hunter pace coming up next weekend and we encountered big steep hills at the last one. I want to be 100% sure that I'm doing whatever I need to in order to keep my horse and myself safe. THANKS!

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post #2 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 08:52 AM
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when i go downhill i let my horses put their head down, not sure if thats correct or not but IMO if your horse asks to put his head down to go downhill and you arent rushing him down it you should be ok, i mean most horses will do what they feel is safest, they dont want to hurt themselves or you, how they hold their head is pretty much instinct i think
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post #3 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 10:54 AM
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I want them to see where they are going, so I give them their head. I keep my eyes trained forward, not down. And of course keep your body centered, not forward. I'm sure you know that tho.

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post #4 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 11:11 AM
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Hello all,
I am new to this forum(just found it) but, I have been riding horses 35 years. If you watch a horse climbing a hill or comming down a hill, where does he keep his head? I do not pull up on his reins to encourage his head to come up, I want his head down, but not on the ground-- The horse will put his head in a natural position so that he can see the ground- the only thing I controll when going down the hill is the speed in which we will descend safely.
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post #5 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 11:52 AM
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I want my horse collected and in control. If I have that he's not going to flip over. That's a little silly in my opinion.
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post #6 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 12:09 PM
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I have to agree with #2. I give my horses their head so that they can balance themselves and pick the best way down for them. The only time I pick up the reins is if they start to go faster than I like. IMHO, if you keep their head pulled up, it is more likely that they will flip over backward on a muddy slope; I don't know how, but that is just what I would be afraid of. My horses are funny and it may not be the best way to do it but if we are going down a VERY steep slope where their butts are dragging the ground, most of mine will turn sideways and sidepass down the hill. It feels much more in control and balanced to me and I have yet to have one fall doing it.

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post #7 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 12:18 PM
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I have picked up this habit of holding my horses head up - this is something I've learnt from Eventing.

I remember back in my pony club days, we were working on drops, off of this sorta slant thing made out of the ground, and rail road ties. So that people could back it up to load up stock into their trailers.

Anyways, my friend and her horse Dot *funny how I remember the horses name and not my friends* were cantering to the drop. They were on the top and coming down of course - and when they landed, her horse almost went over in a bad fall, but she picked up her reins and pulled her horses head up and that prevented the tragity that was about to occur.

The 1 star eventer who was there coaching us, shouted out "bravo, you just picked your horse up and did exactly what you were supposed to do"

I know, drops are not compareable to climbing down a hill. And I know that when you go off a drop, you're supposed to allow the reins to completely slack through your hands so your horse can have their head - it's a ******ed issue that I need to correct.

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post #8 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 12:31 PM
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Enough folks have already said it...we let them have their head to let them see and balance the way they feel safe.

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On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #9 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 06:55 PM
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I don't always just let my horse have it's head. I keep them collected so that thier hindquarters stay under them. Horses don't instictivly know how to travel with a rider so it is our responsibility to help them travel safely by keeping them collected.
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post #10 of 25 Old 09-13-2009, 09:42 PM
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That is what I should have said== collecton is always a good thing-- sometimes I miss saying the right thing- but collection is what I was talking about.
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