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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everone,
I’m trying to me consistent with taking my boy out (haven’t have him long) I took him out yesterday & as soon as we went up or down hill it’s triggered him to mess around, refusing to walk in a straight line, trotting/cantering sideways/up verges & back end in hedges. Throwing head around.
He’s had his teeth & back done, having the saddle fitter out begging on April.
I think it may be learnt behaviour from previously being in pain?
Once the saddle fitter has been out & I can definitely rule that out, is it a case of just consistency? Currently when he starts to mess around I just sit quietly & leg on, after he’s done it once though it seems to work him up so he’s tense for the rest of the ride. Any thoughts & advice welcome! Thanks
 

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What makes you think it's a learned behaviour from previous pain? Up hill is a bit different, but ever noticed horses going down steep hills on their own? They don't tend to go straight down, they zig zag. And I've heard from 2(renowned) body experts that it's hard on a horse's joints - elbows especially, to go down hill with a rider. Added to that the possibility of body issues, hoof issues, saddle issues, rider imbalance...

So, I'd be assuming it is more likely physical, until you rule it out. What did he have 'done' to his back & why? What was wrong with it? Did the body expert that gave him the treatment say/know anything about hooves, to give you an idea whether that was a contributor to whatever probs? And if you don't know whether your saddle fits, best to ride bareback until you find that it's appropriate. Unfortunately, like farriers etc, 'saddle fitters' can be good, bad or indifferent, so having one say your saddle is ok doesn't make it necessarily so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
His fur on his withers is white which I think is from rubbing at some point previously. I’m only assuming it could be a learnt behaviour over time, poorly fitted saddle causing pain, worse going up or down hill.
We had the chiropractor & physio out & he’s sound.
By down hill the gradient wasn’t massive, it was over a motorway style bridge. He doesn’t just walk sideways slightly he starts jogging & gets worked up.
He was previously owned my an inexperienced rider who probably didn’t help the situation. I don’t think he’s just being naughty but there isn’t anything obvious causing pain (other than current saddle potentially) The saddle fitter I have coming is fab & highly recommended, I’m getting a totally new saddle for him. In the mean time I may just take it steady doing lunge work etc with no saddle. Thanks
 

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Going downhill without the horse jigging sideways, when one is SURE there is no pain, takes some talent to teach them how to get their butts underneath themselves.

I could never have a horse jigging sideways, in some places I have ridden, or we would have been over the edge, never to be heard from again. My 15.2H Arab/Saddlebred was the best ever at literally sitting on his butt and walking himself down a steep powerline -- I also rode without a saddle so saddle pain was never an issue.

I would still want to be sure the horse is not in some physical discomfort by having a different chiropractor look at him -- they aren't all created equal. I had one vet/chiro say my horse was fine when I knew better; the holistic vet/chiro worked on him until he really was fine:)

The second thing is to teach the horse how to walk straight down a hill and how to get its rump underneath itself. It takes a lot of work, patience and no yelling or becoming frustrated with the horse, since their "kneejerk" reaction is to go sideways:)

Don't ask me how because it's one of those things I can do but cannot relay on paper. Same as when I knew how to get up to camp but couldn't give someone the verbal directions:)
 
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If a hill is steep, it is unsafe to zigzag down it. I was told to go straight down if it was quite steep. ALA "Man from Snowy River" style.

Your situtation sounds like pain from the saddle. It can also be the hocks it's much harder on them going up and down hills
 

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Your situtation sounds like pain from the saddle. It can also be the hocks it's much harder on them going up and down hills
Yes, I forgot that hock pain can prevent a horse from going straight down hill and stifle issues could do the same:)
 
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Yes, my horse with stifle issues had all kinds of trouble going up and down hills until they were feeling better. Stifle problems can be difficult to diagnose without a lameness vet. A friend's horse had a lot of difficulty with hills that was better after the chiropractor adjusted her pelvis several times.
 

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If he's not used to hills, he might just really be clueless about how to balance himself and use himself. I live in a place where there are very very very few hills around to work a horse. I can absolutely imagine the green horse I'm helping with right now losing his mind over hills if I were to take him up/down one tomorrow. He has zero experience with them, and there aren't really any opportunities to practice with him. Are there any more gradual slopes around you that you can use to help him get fitter for hill work?
 

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Yes, I forgot that hock pain can prevent a horse from going straight down hill and stifle issues could do the same:)
I've got Jec Aristotle Ballou's book, something like "101 Exercises for Dressage Horses" or something like that. I've just incorporated the slope work she outlines. She says it's great for strengthening stifles, and what TWH can't use that (Dixie doesn't have any stifle problems). I hope she's right. The exercises are STRAIGHT up and down the (gentle) slopes, then walk/halt/walk transitions up and down, plus an oval pattern up and down the slope at a walk. Not to be overdone.

One thing that is really useful for Dixie in particular is her penchant for rushing hills. A good exercise for lengthening her short fuse!
 

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Hi Everone,
I’m trying to me consistent with taking my boy out (haven’t have him long) I took him out yesterday & as soon as we went up or down hill it’s triggered him to mess around, refusing to walk in a straight line, trotting/cantering sideways/up verges & back end in hedges. Throwing head around.
He’s had his teeth & back done, having the saddle fitter out begging on April.
I think it may be learnt behaviour from previously being in pain?
Once the saddle fitter has been out & I can definitely rule that out, is it a case of just consistency? Currently when he starts to mess around I just sit quietly & leg on, after he’s done it once though it seems to work him up so he’s tense for the rest of the ride. Any thoughts & advice welcome! Thanks
Some people love to dash madly up hills. Then when they want their horse to walk up the next hill, the horse is unruly because it believes it's SUPPOSED to run madly up the hill, yet the rider is punishing it for doing what it thinks it's supposed to do. Horses get to anticipating this and can get really hyper at the base of a hill. I think I'm dealing with this, with my second hand horse. All indicators point to some pretty indifferent riding in her past.

Walking down a hill is equally interesting when a horse has been indifferently ridden. Riding such a horse is like riding an octopus on roller skates. It can take a lot of time and patience to reprogram a horse with any anticipatory behaviors, like rushing a hill, bucking on a canter depart, jigging because of too much running. The list is endless. I think a lot of horses used in speed events get their minds blown.
 

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I've got Jec Aristotle Ballou's book, something like "101 Exercises for Dressage Horses" or something like that. I've just incorporated the slope work she outlines. She says it's great for strengthening stifles, and what TWH can't use that (Dixie doesn't have any stifle problems). I hope she's right. The exercises are STRAIGHT up and down the (gentle) slopes, then walk/halt/walk transitions up and down, plus an oval pattern up and down the slope at a walk. Not to be overdone.

One thing that is really useful for Dixie in particular is her penchant for rushing hills. A good exercise for lengthening her short fuse!
Dixie's been having really strong heats this spring and can be a handful. After we did these exercises in the pasture the other day, and safely making our way back to the arena (!) she still needed to blow off steam, so I fetched the lunge line and let her gait a few rounds (as well as canter). After that slope work, I have NEVER seen her little barefoot self exhibit so much action and engagement! It was quite breathtaking!
 

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Once a horse becomes strong and confident enough on hills to be able to walk up and down them, I add in stopping half way down a hill, and asking them to back up the hill a few steps. what's evern harder for them is to stop halfway UP a hill and back DOWN it a few steps. All tests in control, cooperation and balance.
 

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By down hill the gradient wasn’t massive, it was over a motorway style bridge. He doesn’t just walk sideways slightly he starts jogging & gets worked up.
In addition to the advice above, he may not like the sound and movement created by cars and lorries, or fast water, passing below him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everyone.
I’m not going to ride him until I have the saddle fitter out & see how he goes.
I’m just going to give him lots of time & walking out on hacks!
I know he is slightly unbalanced on one side so this also won’t be helping.
 
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