View Full Version : down hill position

Jun. 22, 2010, 08:49 AM
Hi everyone,

I am posting this question here because I feel like if anyone knows the correct answer to this question, it's endurance and trail riders :)

I'm not a real trail rider though I do "trail ride" but on relatively level paths and wooded trails...I'm changing-up the daily lessons on my STB so the ring work doesn't sour her, etc. The last few days I've been taking her along one path in the field that has a pretty long and steep section -- not too steep for a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but too steep for a small engined car if the grass was wet (does that make sense? My car struggles up this lane but the truck does not) - yesterday my horse hesitated down it and I think it's because I'm probably going down wrong and she anticipated the discomfort.

I've read so many conflicting views on downhill position - lean back, don't lean back, stay straight, shift your weight side-to-side with the horse....keeping in mind that this is a long slope and I am in a dressage saddle, what should I be doing in the saddle to maintain a walk?
Is this different for a shorter, even steeper trek down a hill? I also have a path that I typically hand-walk down but wondered what the protocol is for that if I rode down it.

Thanks for your advice!

Jun. 22, 2010, 09:00 AM
Whether gong up or down hill the rule of thumb I use is to stay parallel with the trees. So when going down hill you tilt back a little from the pelvis, the degree of tilt will depend on the steepness of the hill. The people I see "leaning back" often are TOO far back. Also you do want to move your hips from side to side with the horse, this keeps your upper body still (swaying from side to side all day is hard on a horse's back). Hope this helps!

Jun. 22, 2010, 09:22 AM
Yes, this is very helpful...I think I was shifting my weight, but through my stirrups.

Jun. 22, 2010, 11:01 AM
you want to try to keep your center of gravity directly over the horse's center of gravity. As the horse goes up or down hills the horse's center of gravity should shift a bit forward or backwards and you have to shift yourself accordingly.

Jun. 22, 2010, 11:12 AM
Thanks to you as well Wendy. That clarification helps a lot. I'm headed out now to ride and we'll see if my set makes a difference in her willingness (I'm thinking it will). I'm certain I was shifting side to side in the stirrups, leaning to far back...embarrassed that I'd never thought about it until I'm on a sensitive horse that is quick to tell me I'm wrong :).

Jun. 22, 2010, 11:15 AM
Your stirrups and legs should stay where they normally are on the horse. What you see peeps do is run their feet toward the horse's shoulders and tense up some- bam bam bam down the hill, jamming everyone's everything ;)

I stay with the trees with my upper body, so I'm 'leaning' back but only from the waist- I'll often round my shoulders a bit to ensure I'm going with the horse, not bracing at all, and as calatar said roll with your hips, so there's a hinge in your middle where the bottom of your body rolls with the horse, but your upper body stays more still....does that make any sense?

Jun. 22, 2010, 12:25 PM
as calatar said roll with your hips, so there's a hinge in your middle where the bottom of your body rolls with the horse, but your upper body stays more still....does that make any sense?

Think of a bellydancer - the hips move, the upper body stays still :)

Jun. 22, 2010, 02:22 PM
Ahh thank you everyone! That did the trick. When we got to the hill she hesitated and side-stepped...probably preparing for some shifting weight....2nd time down she didn't hesitate or side-step at all. I love the belly dancer imagery.

It seems so simple but I really never asked anyone about it because I haven't done too many hills, especially on a regular basis. The horse that I use to "trail ride" is so kind (Arabian), she'd compensate for any of my offenses on her back - it's the STB that called me out on it and forced me to look at my poor form and seek advice :).

Thanks again!

Jun. 22, 2010, 11:22 PM
Leave it to those Standardbreds! I have no advice, seems you are good to go, but had to chuckle at the fact that a STB let you know. Ours lets us know what she's thinking too.;)

Jun. 23, 2010, 03:41 PM
haha, for me it was the Arabian who taught me to be extra-careful about my seat position! Glad the bellydancer image helped :)