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Spin-off Pet Peeves Trail Riding: Teach A Midwesterner!

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  • Spin-off Pet Peeves Trail Riding: Teach A Midwesterner!

    I read all the comments about the Tevis Cup riding. And watched this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjsvj...eature=related Coming from the midwest, I ride on mostly flat terrain, but take vacation riding trips in terrain that is not unlike that shown in the video.

    Question: What is the best way to navigate that terrain. I've been taught, perhaps incorrectly, to lighten my seat so the horse can use his back, keep the weight in my heels, grab a bit of mane to keep some contact but let the horse have his head to rebalance as needed. I believe I read a few times where folks wrote it was not a good practice to stand in the stirrups. Is that the same as lightening a seat? And when I say lighten, it's a very small two point.

    I ride outside of trail (LL dressage and some jumping) so I have a base line of knowledge, I'd just like to ensure I'm doing right by the ponies I ride on vaca. Thanks!

  • #2
    Your link didn't work. I'm guessing you're talking about up and down hills. Your instinct is correct but I'm pasting below some advice from Jessica Jahiel (author, clinician) that specifically answers your question. She has a great website with archived Q&As on a variety of questions. Site is http://http://www.horse-sense.org This question was specifically about best rider position(s) when trail riding in different terrain.

    From Jessica
    : "There are times to sit, and times to get your seat up and off your horse's back. If your trails are fairly flat, you'll be sitting most of the time. If your trails are hilly, you will probably spend a good bit of your time in a half-seat (two-point position). Either way, it's good to know what will make life easier for your horse.

    "Up and down hills: The horse is a rear-engined animal that uses its head and neck to help itself balance. If you keep this in mind, you won't make many mistakes on hills. Give the horse its head, as much as you possibly can, so that it can balance itself while it's climbing and descending. Don't try to make any big movements or any significant changes to your own position DURING an ascent or descent. To free the horse's back and let its hindquarters (the engine) work effectively, you'll do best to stay very slightly out of your saddle and balanced over your feet no matter whether you're going uphill or downhill. Take your hills straight! Coming down at an angle can cause a horse to fall. To stay balanced coming down a slope, a horse needs to keep its hindquarters directly behind the rest of its body, not off at an angle. When you're coming down a hill and you are MOST tempted to choke up on the reins and look down, don't - instead, let the horse have a little MORE rein, and keep looking UP. It will help both of you stay balanced.

    "Going uphill, don't hesitate to get into a half-seat, give the horse a long rein, and let the horse do the work. Sitting and kicking just makes the horse's job harder. Horses can canter up hills more easily than they can walk or trot, so keep that in mind. If your horse offers a canter up a steep hill, don't panic and assume that he's running away - he may just not have the strength required to trot uphill."

    Hope that helps!
    It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


    • #3
      I do not give my horse his head going downhill. Instead, I ask that he rock back on his haunches and use his hind end. Otherwise its a flailing mess of him getting too much on his forehand.

      Uphill? I typically let him do what he wants. Sometimes he's content to just walk up, other times he'd rather canter. I figure I'm asking him to cart me around, I'll do what I can to make his job easier.


      • #4
        Originally posted by GotMyPony View Post
        From Jessica[/U]: "There are times to sit, and times to get your seat up and off your horse's back. If your trails are fairly flat, you'll be sitting most of the time. If your trails are hilly, you will probably spend a good bit of your time in a half-seat (two-point position). Either way, it's good to know what will make life easier for your horse.

        Horses can canter up hills more easily than they can walk or trot, so keep that in mind. If your horse offers a canter up a steep hill, don't panic and assume that he's running away - he may just not have the strength required to trot uphill."
        Even on flat ground, you may not be sitting most of the time if you are going faster than a walk. You might be, and that might be fine, but I do feel strongly that horses benefit from having the bouncing of their load (you) buffered by shock absorbers/struts (your legs). If you think of your legs as having that role for your horse, you will "lighten your seat" instinctively anytime your weight will be less stable on your horse's back.

        It's true that horses may speed up going uphill to get momentum on their side, but this is not an energy saving strategy if the hill is a long one (hills in the region I did distance riding could be over a mile long!). I have seen people use the argument that horses work less going uphill at the canter to justify letting their horses take off up a hill and run for, well, just much too long. Ok, this was mostly one person and not uncommonly her horses came into a hold with an elevated pulse. Anyway, if you think of this one like you would approach a set of stairs, you can see how you might run and hop up a steep set of a few stairs, but would take your time getting up to the 7th floor when the elevator is broken.
        An auto-save saved my post.

        I might be a cylon


        • #5
          I think she's talking about a REALLY steep hill- it's true it's much easier for a horse to canter up a very steep hill than to try to walk up.