Horse running away down hills!

Ziggy_

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We've just moved yards and don't have a school at present. What we do have, is a grass schooling area; trouble is its on a slope. Its only a slight slope, I'd have no qualms about cantering/jumping downhill on it.

The trouble is, every time we are heading downhill, my horse is plopping onto her forehand, leaning on my hands and running off with me
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This usually results in me grabbing onto her mouth for fear of the pair of us doing a forward roll should she get any faster, which results in her putting in a buck and a few plunges as we reach the bottom then charging off back up the hill
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The problem is worst in trot, as trot is easily her weaker pace, she's marginally better in canter. I've been trying to school in the field, not just whizzing round it like an idiot, but I'm not getting anywhere at the moment.

I think its a combination of balance issues and her being full of herself at the moment, but how can I teach her to balance herself going downhill?
 

milliepops

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It sounds like she is losing her balance coming down the hill. Can you ride a series of half halts as you go downhill, so that you ask her to balance herself rather than rush?

If it were me, I would start by riding a circle, so that you are only going downhill for a few strides, before going across the slope and back up the hill. As you start to go downhill, make sure you are sitting up first (don't let yourself tip forwards, as this will make it worse), then ride a half halt until she comes back to you softly, and then release and let her on forward again. Repeat as often as you need to until she can stay in balance, and in a rhythm. Then you can make the circle bigger, so that you have to go downhill for longer.

The plus side is that once you improve this, her balance will be so much better on the flat too, so you'll be laughing when you do get a school to ride in!
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ETA - if half halts are too difficult (and you might need to ride them strongly to begin with) then I would begin by riding some transitions down the hill, e.g. trot - walk - trot, expecting her to produce a sharp transition and a decent walk before trotting again.

Also, if you are finding she is leaning on your hands, she needs to start to carry herself. Half halts and transitions between paces will help with this - remember to soften your hands when she comes up and stops leaning so she gets a reward for offering the right response. (sorry bout the essay - good luck!)
 

competitiondiva

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mmmm well you say that canter is her best pace where she's more balanced, I'd try to establish the balance in canter first, use half halts or If she'll do walk canter transitions (don't try to run before you can walk, only if they are already established) then you could try doing these transitions going downhill as it will result in her putting her bottom underneath her more carrying herself more up infront expecting the transition and hopefully become more balanced. Once you have got success in the canter then try in trot.

If the transitions aren't already established then try to do quite an abrupt half halt so that the horse nearly breaks then put a little leg on and give a little rein to encourage forward again. After a few of these going downhill the horse will start to expect it and carry itself up infront more ready to use it's hind quarters to stop/start.

But this will all depend on where your basis schooling is currently at. If the horse is very green with no flexion then you need to loosen it up and do flexion work to get its muscles ready to carry you downhill in a balanced outline etc...

(By persevering in her worst pace (trot) you will make her more worried and therefore more unbalanced.)

Hope that is of some help, I'm sure there will be others on here with other good ideas, good luck.
 

Ziggy_

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Thanks for suggestions
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I had been trying half halts going downhill with little success - once that head goes down shes like a runaway train lol - but I might have more luck if I try downwards transitions to steady her up. The walk-canter going downhill sounds really interesting - her walk-canter transitions are fab so that definitely sounds like something that could work, as does working on the canter before the trot.

Thanks again guys, given me a few ideas
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milliepops

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Can you ride the halfhalts/whatever working up the hill first (then maybe walk back down)? Get her really together and light in front going uphill before trying to go down? Might make it easier for you to keep it going that way.
 
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