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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2008
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    2,237

    Default Rearing + hills?

    What, if any, medical issues might cause a horse to want to rear up when going UPhill?

    Horse and I were out for a short hack around the property yesterday; the weather was ridiculously hot, so I figured Horse would be lazy. He wasn't. Occasional jigging, tried to scoot a couple of times when our trail-buddy horse got too far ahead of us in the woods, etc.

    The kicker was when we attempted to go up a fairly short (maybe 50'?) but fairly steep hill. We've gone up and down this hill before least year without incident, went down it yesterday with no problems, but when we attempted to go back up, he got maybe 1/3 of the way up and reared straight up, almost went over before he righted himself and frog-hopped the rest of the way up said hill.

    Scared the crap outta me-- Horse isn't a rearer; this was a first, in the 3 years I've had him. (He's an 8 y.o. OTTB.)

    I'm inclined to chalk it up to him being fresh from being barely worked lately; I've been out of town and have only ridden 3x in the past 3 weeks. Also, the uphill Scene of the Incident was "heading home" too. BUT, horse has had some funky SI issues recently, for which I had a chiro out to do an adjustment last month; he's seemed much better U/S since then, at least in the arena.

    So... any obvious medical issues that might provoke a horse to want to rear going uphill, or is it likely he just needs to have the snot ridden out of him for a while to get his head screwed back on straight??
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007
    Location
    Virginia
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    1,553

    Default

    I can't see that if his rear end was hurting, he'd rear more, as that would increase pressure on the area. I'd suspect, he'd either spin and go back down or rush up the hill to get over it faster. Were you cranking down on the reins at the time so that was the only escape he had?

    Any changes to his saddle lately?

    Maybe he was just being a jerk. Try warming him up in the arena and then doing the hill again, see if he repeats the behaviour. Do you have any smaller hills to test him on?



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2008
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    534

    Default

    I spend time at least a couple of times a week on hills, here are my thoughts FWIW.

    My first thought was tight reins, or holding him back. Sometimes when a horse is weak behind, or who just has a lot of 'go" that day they want to power up the hill. Powering up is much easier for them than being held to a walk. Walking takes a LOT more effort. So, two scenarios. He could have been impatient, or he might have been trying to avoid using his hindquarters.

    In either case, holding him back could cause the reaction you described.

    If you are concerned about a physical issue, have a friend either ride our walk your horse up a hill while you observe.

    When we train our endurance horses we nearly always make them walk or trot up, so that they get the most of their workout. On the endurance rides we allow them to power up, even canter as it helps to conserve their energy stores for the miles ahead.

    Since you said he was jiggy, my guess is that he just wanted to go up faster than you did.

    Hope this helps.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 21, 2008
    Location
    Sonoma County, California
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    2,524

    Default

    Among other things, look at saddle fit. I had a similar thing happen last week with my daughter's horse. Going up hill, he became a jerk and started stopping on the hill and jigging and backing up. Very dangerous as I worried he'd go over backward. I assumed it was because he was upset because he was apart from his herd mate. I traded horses with her and mounted him. In the process I righted his saddle, which I noticed had slipped hard to the right. He was immediately better. Got to the top of the hill and once I sorted it all out, I suspected he was in some real pain from saddle slippage. The right panel had been literally resting on his spine. Felt very badly later for thinking this was just him being a jerk on the trail. It was a good reminder for me to always check for discomfort when dealing with training issues. My daughter later sheeplishly admitted she'd forgotten her breastplate --- something this horse is never ridden without, esp. on hills.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2008
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    2,237

    Default

    We only have two decent (albeit short) hill trails on our property; last summer he pulled the "power up in leaps and bounds" game a couple of times, although without rearing. Around that time I started riding him with a neck strap, and I noticed him relax quite a bit if I grabbed onto that as opposed to grabbing mane like I usually do (I had it pulled pretty short at the time, so I started using the neck strap partially just because there wasn't enough mane to get a good grip on)...

    It's highly possible that I had a pretty tight hold on him last night, because he had been a bit of an @ss up to that point and I knew he'd be wanting to charge the hill. (Incidentally, he didn't even have a bit in his mouth though-- we were playing around with my new bitless bridle.)

    I'm pretty confident that it was just him being an underworked @ss... Planning on going back to ride up and down that hill tonight a few (dozen?) times, will add his breastplate too. Thanks!
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2001
    Location
    Bryan,Texas
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    2,261

    Default

    Sounds like he was testing you with his bitless bridle. I would make sure you have all the bugs worked out with the bitless bridle in a safe secure area before going out in the open where you are at more risk than necessary.

    Ride him in his normal bridle, neck strap and take the edge off of him first in the arena. The trailride should be treated as a reward for good behavior until you can trust him reliably.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep. 29, 2009
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    2,576

    Default

    Coming from an endurance background, some horses just do not know how to go up a hill.

    I have had some rear also. I never added any extra equipment, I just got off and walked. Then did the below.

    What I did was I lunged the horse on a lunge line on some gentle hills. WTC. Slowly. First only walk. Then over a week or two go to the trot, then some time then the canter. You will want to teach them to walk down hills too. And trot, and canter. Gentle hills. You can test the horse to see if it knows how to navigate the hills by riding on the same area you lunged the horse. I also teach them to back up the hill. Never know when you may need to.

    Also I would get off and walk up the hills on the trails with the horse.

    When I break my young ones, or would get ones in training who really didn't work on any surface besides the flat they have no idea how to use themselves on a slope, hill, etc. So I use the lunge line to work out some bugs. They get it figured out. Lots of praise. It is no big deal.

    If you have issues of refusal take your lunge line and lunge them on the area.

    Once on the trails and under saddle, walk the hills. Do easy hills. Don't scare the horse by rushing. When in doubt get off and walk. If you rush them too fast and their bodies are not ready for hill work, they may get hurt in their stifles. Seen it. No not any of my horses.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2008
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    534

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rmh_rider View Post
    Coming from an endurance background, some horses just do not know how to go up a hill.

    I have had some rear also. I never added any extra equipment, I just got off and walked. Then did the below.

    What I did was I lunged the horse on a lunge line on some gentle hills. WTC. Slowly. First only walk. Then over a week or two go to the trot, then some time then the canter. You will want to teach them to walk down hills too. And trot, and canter. Gentle hills. You can test the horse to see if it knows how to navigate the hills by riding on the same area you lunged the horse. I also teach them to back up the hill. Never know when you may need to.

    Also I would get off and walk up the hills on the trails with the horse.

    When I break my young ones, or would get ones in training who really didn't work on any surface besides the flat they have no idea how to use themselves on a slope, hill, etc. So I use the lunge line to work out some bugs. They get it figured out. Lots of praise. It is no big deal.

    If you have issues of refusal take your lunge line and lunge them on the area.

    Once on the trails and under saddle, walk the hills. Do easy hills. Don't scare the horse by rushing. When in doubt get off and walk. If you rush them too fast and their bodies are not ready for hill work, they may get hurt in their stifles. Seen it. No not any of my horses.
    Great advice, not just for OP but for everyone wanting to learn how to do hill work.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007
    Location
    Virginia
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartsongHorses View Post
    Great advice, not just for OP but for everyone wanting to learn how to do hill work.
    I agree!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2008
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    Default

    He's no stranger to hills-- our last barn was basically located on the side of a mountain with 300 acres of trails, and we trail-rode A LOT, up and down hills far longer and steeper than this one. Unfortunately, the extent of New Barn's trail system is one path through the woods that is ridden end-to-end in less than 10 minutes. That, and we haven't really ridden out there at all this spring due to the super-wet conditions, so we haven't done anything besides hacks around the pasture since last fall.

    So I suppose it's possible that Horse is rusty on hills, but the more probable answer is that he was just being a great big jerk.

    I tried to ride out tonight (with regular bitted bridle) and work on the other, less-steep hill. Unfortunately we had a tornado go through a couple of weeks ago, and there are quite a few downed trees in the woods; turns out the path to Hill #2 was unpassable. BUT, on the bright side, Horse was much calmer and more manageable tonight, even with having to carefully pick his way through debris pile after debris pile. I think he's just rather full of himself this week, with all the grass and time off. Wet Saddlepad Therapy, here we come!
    *friend of bar.ka

    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"



  11. #11
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    Nov. 25, 2001
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    VA
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    Default

    If it's not a training, saddlefit, or bitless issue and continues, check out his stifles. I had one come into the barn about 10 years ago that would do this, even leading on hills, and it turned out she had OCD lesions in both stifles.



  12. #12
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    Sep. 13, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartsongHorses View Post
    My first thought was tight reins, or holding him back. Sometimes when a horse is weak behind, or who just has a lot of 'go" that day they want to power up the hill. Powering up is much easier for them than being held to a walk. Walking takes a LOT more effort. So, two scenarios. He could have been impatient, or he might have been trying to avoid using his hindquarters.

    In either case, holding him back could cause the reaction you described.
    BTDT. I learned (slow) that he didnt like being held. At all. Made him real nervous. I wonder what trainer got hold of him?

    Anyway I found relaxing the grip until needed to stop was all I had to do. Funny how it is, not what you think wuld work.
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker



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