If you do much riding, you will eventually have to go up and down some hills. Maneuvering hills can be tricky, but with a few tips, you can make the trip a little more relaxing for both you and your horse.
First lets go down the hill. Think about your body position. As your horse descends down the hill you want to keep your body perpendicular with level ground. Notice in the picture, Tracey is leaning slightly back. Her feet then shift slightly forward so that they are under her hips. This helps the horse maintain his center of gravity and makes him better able to keep his balance. I also try to remember to keep my heels down and toes out to remind the horse to go slow. If you look at just the top of this picture (at Tracey) you really shouldn’t be able to tell whether she is going down a hill or riding on level ground (I have cut out the horse in the following picture to illustrate this). I also found that it works best if you try to relax your body and let your hips move in time with your horse. Let your horse have a little slack in the reins, provided he doesn’t try to run down the hill. It’s safest to walk your horse down hills. If you let him run he could lose his footing, or become unbalanced and fall. Also running down hills is tough on your horses leg joints.
Now that we are down at the bottom of the hill, we need to get back up to the top. Again you want to keep your body perpendicular with level ground. Therefore, you basically need to do the opposite with your body that you did going down hill. Here is Gabby pictured going up hill. Her body is in good position. Her body is perpendicular to level ground, and her shoulders, hips and heels are aligned. Again if you were looking at just the top of the picture (at Gabby only), you really would not be able to tell if she was riding a horse on flat ground or up a hill. Your speed up the hill is up to you. My horses love to run up hills, but I try to mix it up a little and make them walk up the hills sometimes. That way if someone else is riding them that doesn’t want to run, my horse won’t have a fit and blow up when they are asked to walk up the hill.
Through a pasture or on a trail, riding up and down hills can be tons of fun, but it can also cause anxiety if you are unsure how to get to the bottom or top safely. Hopefully with these tips and a little practice you soon will be maneuvering hills like a master.
Thanks for dropping in and maybe someday you will be good enough with hills to handle “The Man From Snowy River” – the decent
Notice that he stays perpendicular!