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Proper form for walking down hills

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  • Proper form for walking down hills

    Ive never trail ridden a ton, and when I did it was on fairly flat terrain with only small hills. Now I'm riding a wonderful pony (thanks to an amazing cother!) and we head out on the trails in the hills. Since she is a pony, I do feel like my balance affects her more and I would like to keep her as comfortable as possible.

    Ive been taught several different possitions over the years but its still not feeling quite right. So what's the proper downhill riding position (for upper body and where my legs should be)?
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

  • #2
    I was taught that you want to keep yourself perpendicular to the center of the Earth. Most importantly, you want to be stable so that the horse can anticipate where your weight will be as they negotiate the ground.

    Do a couple "force vector" diagrams like you used to do in Physics class and you'll see why!

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

    Comment


    • #3
      There was a spirited discussion of this a few years ago:

      http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...=perpendicular

      In re-reading that discussion I realize that several methods work; the "best" method remains to be seen. I agree about being stable so the horse can anticipate where your weight will be.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by prudence View Post
        There was a spirited discussion of this a few years ago:

        http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...=perpendicular

        In re-reading that discussion I realize that several methods work; the "best" method remains to be seen. I agree about being stable so the horse can anticipate where your weight will be.
        Well, the OP of that thread is (shadow, owner of Rio) well known on many occasions to do incredibly stupid things... so i would take this whole "leaning forward" thing and throw it out the window. That narrows down the methods.

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        • #5
          I have been taken on some nutso trails, including some that are not far from the Man From Snowy River in terms of insanity (foreign country, mountain trails for days, non-English speaking escort...I was afraid if I refused I would be still be out there)

          I went with what I had been taught, which seems to be the prevailing, if not only, recommendation- lean back/stay over center of gravity on the way down, lean forward on the way up. adjust angle to incline of slope.

          When going up steep slopes, up in stirrups while leaning & I give horse their head. I hold on to mane so I don't end up yanking them back if I lose my balance.

          So far, no fatalities with this method, but I am not an expert.
          Last edited by Hippolyta; Aug. 26, 2012, 10:55 PM.

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          • #6
            DON'T LEAN FORWARD UNLESS YOU WANT TO ROLL DOWN THE HILL.


            Now. Keep yourself straight up and down -- don't lean back, and don't lean forward. Keep your legs under you, with your knees bent and your thighs holding weight in the saddle. (To keep yourself from bracing in the stirrups or sitting heavily on your horse's back).

            It's okay to have some contact on steep hills. Don't drop them, but let them place their head. Is they start to trot, touch them back, but you can't do anything else. If they bolt down a hill you just have to keep them straight, there really isn't much you can do.

            Hopefully you won't be bolting down hills though.

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            • #7
              In the past, having ridden my horse down some unbelievably long perpendicular stony/sandy/clay hills/cliffs on the way to beach riding, I would never do anything but what has worked for me - lean/shift very slightly back; legs under me but slightly forward; slight stirrup brace, but not pushing on them; very light contact - my horse had his head & could pick his way, but I was still in control.

              Going back up was simply in reverse, with a few differences. I was well forward - pretty much in 2 or 3-point - with legs underneath me. While I didn't throw everything to the wind, horse totally had his head. The trick/skill here was definitely to be "one" with the horse, as in relaxed & fairly motionless. Wobbly-bobblies rarely made it up, or made it up with difficulty.

              There was no "trotting" or "bolting" up & down these hills - lol!! In fact, folks on foot had trouble getting up & down them.

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              • #8
                Ah, yes, I remember that old thread.

                'Perpendicular with flat ground' has always been the operative for me. And I ride some pretty hairy mountains.

                I will add to that (and it's another topic of discussion/disagreement!) that absent a trail, I let my horse pick its way up hill, zigging and zagging as needed, but makes sure he points straight down a steep hill, so as to be able to rock back and slide on hocks as needed. Because- if you are on an angle on a really steep hill and horse slips- gravity does work and it can be painful.

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                • #9
                  My best advice is be balanced-your hips are your pivot point and you must be balanced and out of their way. I always feel my hips and let them roll with the horse, some weight in the stirrups, and lean back maybe some but not to match the trees or anything like that, sometimes that angle isn't possible. agree that straight down is better than sidehilling it.

                  ETA-I usually let my horse pick his way-he has loads of experience and he's good-but sometimes I know better. Just don't do any quick corrections or ball them up , I always look where I want them to go through, I always let the reins or my hands be supportive or "um I'm not so sure" always helping...
                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Beverley View Post
                    Ah, yes, I remember that old thread.

                    'Perpendicular with flat ground' has always been the operative for me. And I ride some pretty hairy mountains.

                    I will add to that (and it's another topic of discussion/disagreement!) that absent a trail, I let my horse pick its way up hill, zigging and zagging as needed, but makes sure he points straight down a steep hill, so as to be able to rock back and slide on hocks as needed. Because- if you are on an angle on a really steep hill and horse slips- gravity does work and it can be painful.
                    I read that thread just for fun and the physics of some of the suggestions don't even make sense to me. If you put your weight (or the majority of your weight) forward of the center of gravity of the horse, it just seems like you're asking for trouble. At the very least I'd expect to see you come pinging off the front if there was any kind of bobble on the horse's part.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thank you for the feedback! I've read part of that thread and I'll read the rest tonight. I've been doing the "perpendicular to the sky" with my upper body but I might try to lessen that a little bit. None of these hills are extremely steep (sliding isnt really an issue), just steep enough to make me consider what's happening.

                      So here's an extension to my question... At first I was bracing with the stirrups forward but I was actually interfering with her legs and I didn't like that. But if I bring my legs back by the girth to be supportive like they would be in an arena, then my seat begins to slip forward and almost off the saddle since I'm riding in an English saddle. Do I just need to tighten my leg up? Switch to full seat breeches? (I really don't want to.) Ride in jeans more? (It's just hot here in so cal!)

                      Oh, and thanks for the advice on keeping her straight. I'll work on that. Trotting or bolting downhill isn't a concern, she hates walking downhill and goes very very slowly and carefully.
                      Last edited by Wonders12; Aug. 27, 2012, 01:28 AM. Reason: Lesson =/= lessen
                      Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Align your body with the trees that are growing on the hillside, assuming there are some. Most of the trees, unless it is a really steep hill that you couldn't go up or down safely anyway, will grow toward the sky. Allow your horse his head, and don't put all your weight in the stirrups. You can use this body alignment going up and down hills. I also disagree that you have to "live with" a horse bolting down hills. If he does this, practice on some less steep hills and make him stop a few times going down. This can teach him to slow down, and get his hind feet under him.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Wonders -

                          Grip with your thighs to prevent your seat from slipping forward. Doesn't mean cling with your knee and take your lower leg off, I mean use your huge thigh muscle to wrap around the saddle, gripping tightly. FEEL THE BURN.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Arab_Mare View Post
                            Wonders -

                            Grip with your thighs to prevent your seat from slipping forward. Doesn't mean cling with your knee and take your lower leg off, I mean use your huge thigh muscle to wrap around the saddle, gripping tightly. FEEL THE BURN.
                            Yes, this works for me too.

                            I will add -- in conjunction with keeping your seat tight and steady with your thighs, I keep VERY LITTLE pressure in the stirrups and my feet are such just my tippy toes are in the stirrup. If the horse falls my feet will come out easily. This is for really steep and slippery hills.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                              My best advice is be balanced-your hips are your pivot point and you must be balanced and out of their way. I always feel my hips and let them roll with the horse, some weight in the stirrups, and lean back maybe some but not to match the trees or anything like that, sometimes that angle isn't possible. agree that straight down is better than sidehilling it.

                              ETA-I usually let my horse pick his way-he has loads of experience and he's good-but sometimes I know better. Just don't do any quick corrections or ball them up , I always look where I want them to go through, I always let the reins or my hands be supportive or "um I'm not so sure" always helping...
                              no kidding

                              miss you!!!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I was taught the old cavalry lesson
                                torso perpendicular to the earth's core
                                lower limbs stay in their normal position.
                                so no bracing in the stirrups, no leaning way to back

                                give the horse a little more space to sort things out but don't drop contact. it's YOUR job to maintain cadence and balance.
                                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Perpendicular to the flat earth, keping my weight over his back legs as much as possible. I hold on to the cantle for my littler guy so I dont throw him off balance with my sliding around. My one guy is very sure footed (Arab) and deliberate, I give him his head. Om my TB I directed him and had definate mouth contact, both to slow him down and to keep his head up from hitting the ground on a misstep. He is a clumsy guy and would speed up towards the bottom if he was getting to far from the others.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I take every opportunity to do hills, up an down. I make an exercise of going down a few steps, halting, and continuing. I put my feet on the dashboard, look up, and lean back a little. On suitable slopes I also back up a few steps after the halt. Wait, give a miniscule aid to go forward and help the horse to find her own balance. She is pretty good, I think...maybe some of you are more the extreme trail riders than I am. It is a carry forward from eventing drop
                                    jumps.
                                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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