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Hill Work Help

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  • Hill Work Help

    I know I need to do hill work. But am not sure the right/wrong ways. Bear with me while I describe the situation.

    We--52 yr old me and my 14 yr old mare--are still working on getting thru Novice. (I think it may never end!) She is big--17.2. I am not big--5'2", and chubbier than I should be. She likes to be on her forehand, and of course for me to hold her up. She needs conditioning to help her get her backend stronger.

    While I live in OK we really do have hills on our property. Not like what we had in Va when I live there but prob more reasonable hills. The area I do most of my "gallop" work is on a slope. Prob about a 5 degree slope, depending on where you are in it. Unfortuantely the slope is on the short side--the field is a rectangle00but I can do the diagonals too. Also with being in OK, the field has terrace lines in it so there is an up/down undulation super-imposed on the slope.

    So now the questions:
    1) what gaits are best for hill work
    2) I have heard differing things about the down hill work. Some say only walk down, others say to trot and/or canter down too. Opinions.
    3) Any thoughts on how the terrace lines figure into it? Or don't they?
    4) Is the shorter distance "straight down" better/worse/no different than taking the longer diagonal route.
    5) Any other tips, experiences, advice, opinioins, experiences, etc?

    Oh, I am lucky if I get to ride 2 or 3 days a week due to my crazy work schedule. So I have to make the most out of the little time I have. Doing a schedule of "on day 1 do dressage, day 2 hack, day 3 jump, day 4 cross country, day 5 conditioning/gallop...." is NOT in the cards. It is more like Days 1-3 work 16 hr days, Day 4-5 hope I can ride, Days 6-11 work 16 hr days again, Days 12-14 try to ride....


  • #2
    In the past, when I was exercising foxhunters, I worked in a big field the same as I did in the ring. Start with a little W/T/C in a BIG circle on the semi flat part to get them listening. Then just start making the circles bigger to encompass the entire field. I worked them through all 3 gaits up and downhill. They were whip horses for the most part and they had to be fit and balanced no matter what. The field I liked to work in the most had 1 pretty good hill in one corner and another smallish hill diagonally across. The rest was pretty flat which was nice for working out of the ring with the less fit/experienced horses.

    I would start working them on hill work for 10-15 min.after a good 15 min. warm up. As they gain fitness, it will take more to get the heart rate up and the sweat going. The well started, fit horses could easily work for 40 min. on W/T/C sets. Your horse will let you know as you start working, how much he can handle. Definitely helps with rider fitness, too.

    It will also help to take him out for a few laps around the field after ring work. Good for the mind, also.
    Just cause you move to Texas, doesn't mean you are a Texan. After all, if a cat puts her kittens in the oven, It doesn't make them Bisquits.


    • #3
      when i was working student riding lots of different horses. we always taught them first when going down a hill, to go down on their back end. The back end controled the pace and had most of the weight, it was the begginning to teaching them how to go down a hill balanced, so when they got to the trot it was not guns ho ahead.
      Memebr of Charlie Horse Riding Club.


      • #4
        I like walking and trotting hills, both up and down, for strength; cantering/galloping for wind. Be sure your horse has her head and neck low, back up, on the bit, hind-end-first. She needs to march. I also like to do transitions on the hill, particularly going down. Canter to trot, trot to halt, walk to halt/back. Backing up a few steps every 5-6 walk steps does wonders for the big bottoms. Whatever you do, start her slowly in all of these exercises. Hill work is hard. I just started my guy back on our hill after a month of vacation, just being turned out. He's been hacking, W-T-C-ing every day on the flat, in the snow but only walking the hill. One trip up for the first 3 days. 1 trot up on the 4th day. Today we might do a walk and a trot. It's hard. He's a little TB and is very fit but the hill work makes him puff and get sweaty buns.
        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.