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  1. #1
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    Default Going down hills is damaging for the horse?

    So I read that going down hills is damaging for the horse. How true is that? Now I’m supper worried every time that we walk down hill, but I can’t find anywhere a trail with only up the hill walks



  2. #2
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    If this were true then eventually all the horses in the whole world would be on top of Mt. Everest. Since they are not we can assume that the statement is false.

    That said, I'm reminded of a scene in an old movie starring Gregory Peck as a British Naval Officer; Frank Sinatra as a Spanish guerilla, and Sophia Loren as maximum eye candy. They have to move a BIG cannon up and down a hill. Greg tells Frank it's heavier going down than going up. Frank is non-plussed and says "horsefeathers." Going up is tough (long lines of horses, mules, and men pulling on ropes). Going down is long lines of horse, men, and mules being tossed around like matchsticks as gravity does its job.

    When it's all over Frank looks at Greg and says, "You were right; it IS heavier coming down than going up."

    I think the moral is that you have watch your gait and balance both up and down, but that down is a bit more important as gravity will tend to accellerate whatever you do. If you have control and balance you're golden. If you don't you're a candidate for a wreck that may or may not involve the horse going ass over teakettle.

    So ride your horse straight and with precision. You won't have any problems.

    G.



  3. #3
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    Living is damaging to horses - in that it leads to death!

    So - live dangerously at all inclinations!



  4. #4
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    Well, they do have to work harder going downhill than up. But then, so do I. Never seen it cause any damage! Well, let me clarify- I have seen people fail to follow the cardinal rule that one should always make sure the horse is going 'straight' down a hill (assuming an established switch back trail is not available) so that it can rock back on the hocks, even sit down and slide if the going gets rough. So yes, when a horse falls at an angle going down a steep hill, 'that' can cause some damage!



  5. #5
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    I've never heard of such a thing, I did competitive trail riding, and would walk up hills, and if the terrain was good, trot or canter down hills, never hurt my horse....we did quite well at the awards banquets....
    "A good rider can hear his horse speak to him. A great rider can hear his horse whisper.

    Proud member of the Insomnia Clique



  6. #6
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    Oct. 31, 2002
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    Well....

    I used to work at a guest ranch that packed horses in the mountains. We could be going downhill for hours! The saddles could slip forward and sit on the horses shoulders. Cinches were tight and we often had cruppers, but it doesn't always work. If we went down hill for any length of time we always got off and walked for a while. Up in the shale on the mountain tops we NEVER rode going down hill. We always walked back down to the tree line at least. In the mountains, going downhill really is hard on the horse. Hard on me too! My hips and feet used to just ache from leaning back for so long and the jarring motion of the horse was enough to make me want to get off and walk for as long as possible.


    Maybe that is where the information came from. From going downhill for a LONG time.



  7. #7
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    Horses with knee problems do seem to have trouble going down hills. If the hill is steep, they'll stand at the top and shake their heads up and down. This is a sign that I need to find a less steep slope, grit my teeth and bear it, or get off and walk them if it is a long, steep downhill slope. The horse will let you know. I've got two horses who have this trouble and have a friend with another. One is an OTTB who had surgery on his knee, another is a very calf kneed TWH, and my friend's horse has bone spurs on her knee. None of these injuries were caused by hills.

    I ride a little Arabian mare that is so sure footed she can trot or canter down pretty steep inclines. I let her pick the pace. My OTTB (not one with knee problems) would like to run down hills, but he doesn't have good enough balance. He doesn't get to pick the pace, since I'm not sure he's smart enough to keep us both alive.

    Your horse will let you know whether he's a barrel-down-the-hill-with-no worries kind of horse, or one of the others who is best walking down carefully.



  8. #8
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    Jan. 26, 2006
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    It really depends upon the grade and you can do switch backs, you don't have to go straight down a hill...that is usless the horses has tumbled down



  9. #9
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    Mar. 12, 2006
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    I have been told that hills are hard on horses 'legs'. Just as jumping is and that in training, especially on steep hills, to get off and tail them down just as you tail them up a steep incline.

    We follow that advice and ride the hills during competitions, but "tail" them while training. It's added benefit is I get in a bit better shape too.



  10. #10
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    It's strenuous upon hocks, knees, and stifles - plus hard on their backs if you don't get up OFF of them and free their back ends up a bit. But I would probably stop short of saying it's "damaging", unless overdone.
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief



  11. #11
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    As someone else here mentioned, everything we do with our horses eventually leads to their death. As with anything, I think it all rides on your horse's conformation, abilities, and fitness level, as well as the frequency and speed at which you ask the horse to perform.



  12. #12
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    May. 3, 2006
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    Shucks,

    I'd best move!!! I guess that would rule out everywhere in the world other than Holland?



  13. #13
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    Apr. 9, 2007
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    My horse goes up and down hills all the time...they are unavoidable around here. He tries to speed down them..but tripping down a hill doesn't sound very appealing to me.

    Not to hijack...but he crosses his legs when going down hills. None of the other horses I've watched go downhill do this, and go much slower. Thoughts?



  14. #14
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    i ride up hills and down hills sometimes i walk sometimes i trot and sometimes canter or gallop
    i do care which- its not damaging to the horse going down in no more work than going up if anything its easier--



  15. #15
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    Jan. 27, 2007
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    As long as your horse has the strength and condition there is no reason not to go down a hill.
    Injuries ususally come from the lack of condition.
    Now if a hill looks to steep and unsafe I would dismount and go down on foot, just for safetys sake (the horse and the rider).



  16. #16
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    Thanks for all replies, we only walk down the hills, but some of them are quite steep and she tries to go from side to side on the - should I just let her do that or keep her straight?



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dressage Art View Post
    Thanks for all replies, we only walk down the hills, but some of them are quite steep and she tries to go from side to side on the - should I just let her do that or keep her straight?
    Like GTD mentioned, I go down steep hills at an angle when possible. I even do this when crossing ditches with my youngster. I don't want her getting the idea she can race down and then leap over the 6 inches of water. Taking her down into it at an angle eliminates the rushing and jumping notions.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auventera Two View Post
    I even do this when crossing ditches with my youngster. I don't want her getting the idea she can race down and then leap over the 6 inches of water. Taking her down into it at an angle eliminates the rushing and jumping notions.
    OOOO!!!! Brilliant!!! My mare jumps 1 foot of watter really, really high and goes thru the rivers with no problems. I'll try the angle method! thanks.

    I'm attaching pics of the hills that we do below.
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  19. #19
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    Absolutely stunnin scenery!!!! Wow, I am jealous of you! Great photos!

    Yep, the angling down the ditch thing really worked for me. I hated that sick feeling in the bottom of my gutt when you just know the horse is about to launch 3 feet in the air over 6 inches of water. Mine too will go right in the chest deep river, no problem. But those little puddles are the devil.

    Our hills come with warning signs!
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by War Admiral View Post
    It's strenuous upon hocks, knees, and stifles - plus hard on their backs if you don't get up OFF of them and free their back ends up a bit. But I would probably stop short of saying it's "damaging", unless overdone.
    Yup. Or time already has taken a toll.

    Very first thing I was ever told by an old girlfriend (she wasn't old then) about riding upon getting one of her youngish horses, was to try not to canter the horse downhill.

    It seemed odd to me -- the horse seemed happy enough to go anywhere I sort of pointed it -- but I figured it was a balance thing. [What business I had cantering a horse at all my first time on is a total mystery, but when you're very young who thinks of hazards? Especially when your companion who knows what they are doing seems okay with it...]

    Twenty years later I had surgery to repair a torn meniscus on my left knee. My house then had one floor and so it wasn't until I went back to work a couple days later that I encountered stairs. Going up, a little sore, no problem. Going down, thought I was going to die until I shifted all my weight between the left handrail and my right leg. Even then just the weight of the leg pulling on the knee was painful and the thing would swell in a heartbeat.

    I ride a 20 y.o. Arab who was, I am told, hell on wheels in his youth, but for the past few years has some arthritis in his hocks and gets regular bute and joint supplements/treatments.

    He will go up anything at any gait -- on a hot day he's not quite so zippy, but then neither am I -- and is game to go downhill at any gait as well if the grade is mild.

    If the grade is steep going downhill, however, he becomes very wary even at a walk, despite my being well balanced to distribute the weight, or even with me on the ground leading him. There is a fairly steep grade leading from the barn and ring down into the fields where I ride, but it a large expanse and so I zig-zag him three or four times to gentle the slope and distribute it more side-to-side. We cover about four times as much ground but this works fine.

    This may sometimes be inconvenient but helps to remind me no matter which horse I ride that it is a living creature under me who can't be ridden the way I might drive a car near the hairy edge of its stability capabilities and specs.

    And my experience from my knee surgery reminds me that it isn't just that he doesn't feel like pushing his limits, but that it can bloody hurt if I try. Gave me some empathy for the ambulation difficulties of old people, too.
    If I knew what I were doing, why would I take lessons?

    "Things should be as simple as possible,
    but no simpler." - Einstein



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