Cantering downhill on a downhill horse

AJ Yammie

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Aug 24, 2021
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Hi everyone,
I have a quarter horse whos conformation is slightly downhill and the place he is now agisted on is a slope. It’s not crazy steep. Is it safe to canter down the hill with him? I’ve cantered up and across it fine. The problem is if I can’t canter down hill I can only canter up meaning my horse will over time become nappy about it if it’s the same old thing every time. I can only ride in 4 acres. He also has a bit of a tripping problem which is getting better as I teach him to bring his hind end under with collection.
Any advice is appreciated!
I attached a photo of my horse
 

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Jane&Ziggy

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I appreciate the problem! No help from me, as cantering downhill is not something I have ever tried, but I bet our resident QH aficionado @Jessey will have some thoughts.
 

Jessey

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I canter downhill but my mare isn't downhill. I would certainly avoid it while you have a tripping issue, get him as balanced as possible and working as uphill as he can before you try it. As for getting in a habit, just make sure you don't canter up every hill, don't always start at the very bottom and finish at the very top, if you keep it varied he should realize that he's only allowed to do it when you ask.
 

carthorse

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The thing that would worry me more than the conformation is the tripping, I would not want to canter downhill on a horse that was prone to doing that.

Can you only ride on site? I would have thought the obvious answer would be to take him elsewhere to canter if you can and also to have a bit more variety.

I take it this is your older lad from the descriptions in your other post? If so I would wonder if the tripping is a warning of some arthritis or stiffness developing, in which case I wouldn't want to add to the strain by cantering downhill unless it really is the slightest of inclines. If his field is on a slope does he canter downhill through choice in there, and if so how does he cope?
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Downhill is often a difficult for a horse at any gait. The steeper the downhill the harder it is for them.

Re the tripping issue. It maybe because your horse is just lazy or riding on his front end rather than driving with his back legs as the impulsion. Have you had him checked for injuries or has he hock/lameness issue. My horse has had a hock injury and unfortunately he is not sound. But the vet says hes better to be ridden and his injury should come good with time. Because of this injury he is over compensating for the pain in his back end and trips on his fronts. His hock injury also makes it even more uncomfortable when we trot or canter downhill. His movement can be more lumpy than smooth.
 

PePo

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I would work on getting your horse in better self carriage and self balance before attempting to canter downhill. My boy is naturally on the forehand & we can canter downhill now, but it took lots of work.

I ditto chunky monkey re: tripping - I'd want a veterinary investigation before assuming he's 'just'laxy with his feet.
 

AJ Yammie

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Aug 24, 2021
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Wow, thanks everyone for your input. Jake is about 19 years old. He has a but if stiffness in his back left hock but it’s fine after a good warm up. He has been vet checked and given an all good. We recently changed farrier ans he noticed some problems the other one missed. He give Jake a mustang toll and set him up on his toes a but more. My coach thinks his tripping is conformational and behavioural. He’s improved a lot with our work. It’s not multiple hills, it’s just one hill, he’s on one paddock which is 4-6 acres. It’s a 20 degree slope. It’s not a wide paddock, just long so I can canter circles on him but that gets boring for both of us. I can only ride on site for now, I live in two locations, a farm that’s 169 acres of flat land and a small city house for school weeks. We brought Jake to agistment here in the city just for the school term as we can’t go every week to see him and he was getting very unfit after having spells of a few weeks, especially at his age. Once our current lockdown is over I’ll be able to take him out more often, maybe to my riding school for lessons or on hacks but it all depends on if my dad can drive that particular day as he is half blind and always very busy. I don’t know if he is cantering down the hill on his own since I don’t live with him at the moment, I always find him in the corner if the paddock staring at the neighbours alpaca. I rode for 2 years without lessons due to not finding any good coaches, one whipped her horses until they bled and the other just kept canceling and when I did go for lessons she would end it partway through to get her hair or nails done. Over that time Jakes tripping got pretty bad. I then found myself new coach who taught me more than just staying on the horse and helped with Jakes tripping a lot. I’m going out to see Jake tomorrow so I’ll get some footage of him and the slope.

The gouge around the left side of our paddock is a huge whole that has been fenced off.
 

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Jessey

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Transitions are really good for getting a horse back on their haunches, so in your sessions if you are not cantering downhill, only up or across, will actually help as you will be transitioning more - always look for the silver lining :D
 
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AJ Yammie

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I’m in australia. Agisting just means to keep your horse on another site, our agistment is free, it’s on a property owned by an elderly lady with no animals and she can’t mow the lawn.

I try do lots of transitions on Jake, ok equilab it says I do about 150 per ride, sometimes more sometimes less
 
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