My horse is not comfortable going down hills. On the flat and uphills, she is perfectly comfy, moves right out, does all her dressage exercises, etc. But going downhill, she sort of hesitates at each step and then just sort of flops and slops down the hill. The steeper the descent, the worse. Sometimes if I'm leading her straight down a hill, she'll just stop, but if we go diagonally, so it's not such a steep grade, that's better (grudgingly). I'm talking rolling hills, not cliffs or very steep grades. It's the same whether she's under saddle or bareback, with a rider or no rider. She has seen the chiropractor, her saddle fits well, and her hoof angles look good (she's barefoot and has been for years). It's better if I get her collected and have her keep herself together and carry more weight on her hind legs, but, she doesn't seem to be learning to choose this technique herself (and she's 23; she should have gotten it by now).
If she's just being lazy and doesn't want to collect and balance, that's one thing. If it's a sign of some back or leg issue, that's another. Any advice?
I also suggest getting her checked out. My horse can be like this when his hind end needs to be built up--he is very straight through his hind end so his stifles are weak especially when he is not 100% built up. He was also worse about going down hills when he had some suspensory issues several years ago.
Hoping it's nothing serious with your mare but this describes my horse's behavior very well in the above situations.
Originally Posted by RugBug
Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.
At 23 I would think she knows how to go downhill, it's just uncomfortable. I agree with Gracie, maybe with her age her joints just aren't as lubricated as they used to be and it's simply not comfortable to go downhill. Is she on only joint supplement?
I had a horse with stifle issues, and both my vet and chiropacter told me that if my horse stopped going downhill, or started swinging his butt of to the side to go downhill, it was a sign his stifle problems were flaring up again.
I would definitely suspect pain as her deterrent. 23 is a senior horse and it is very likely that her joints are sore, and her soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, and muscles) are not as strong as they used to be. She feels off balance and so she doesn't want to go down a hill and risk really getting off balance. She's not throwing a tantrum and refusing, she just wants to be able to control how she is going down.
I would let her go down hills however she finds it comfortable... not sure what the big deal is. If you need to zig-zag down the hill and then get back to trotting at the bottom, then let her do that. She's 23 and needs you to cut her some slack IMHO
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
Thanks, all! She does get IV Hytril and is on oral supplements, for whatever they might be worth. Maybe it is time to look into some joint injections if that will make her comfier. She is an Arab and has no "empty" on her fuel gauge, so I want her to be able to continue to enjoy her genetic stamina.
Finders, bless your heart. The big deal is that if my horse is hesitating on downhills because she is in pain, and if I can do anything to correct whatever is causing her the pain, I'm going to do it. As you are someone who reads the entire post, I am not sure how I gave you the impression that I need her to trot down the hill, but regardless, yes, you are absolutely right, she absolutely can and may zig-zag down the hill and get back to trotting at the bottom.