Uphill and Downhill…It’s all about your position on things

Uphill & downhill:
A rider is to be positioned appropriately, maintaining the center of balance. No penalty for holding the mane or neck to secure the forward position. Horse to negotiate a slope in a safe manner and not rushing.

Judging an uphill:

  • Body parallel w/ the trees – horse is able to balance going up the hill, feet are under the rider maintaining their balance
  • Seat out of saddle – this helps the horse’s back muscles move freely under the saddle, prevents a horse from getting a sore back
  • Looking ahead – look where you want to go, never look where your horse’s feet are landing, your horse may hesitate going forward and could put him off balance (this is a basic rule for going forward, stepping over logs and sidepassing, example: crossing a creek, look at the other side of the water)
  • Hand in mane – great aid for the rider to get out of the saddle, stay balanced and maintain control w/ the reins. Thrust hips forward to avoid leaning over the horse’s neck
  • Horse walking – rider maintains control over horse, keeping him from becoming too excited and rushing up the hill
  • If the Rider is asked to stop on a incline and there is sufficient room, the Rider shall rest their horse so that all four hooves are on ground that is as level as possible. The location of the stop shall be clearly marked and given in the directions for the uphill. At no time should a Rider position his mount, haunches toward a drop off.

Judging a Downhill:

  • Body parallel w/ the trees – horse is able to balance going up the hill, feet are under the rider maintaining their balance
  • Light in the saddle – this helps the horse’s back muscles move freely under the saddle, prevents a horse from getting a sore back
  • Looking ahead through your horse’s ears – look where you want to go, never look where your horse’s feet are landing. Leaning over and looking at your horse’s feet will throw them off balance and cause ‘body sway’.
  • Body sway: To prevent swaying in the saddle while going downhill keep your eyes forward and shoulders straight, let you hips move in the saddle with each step. If you’re relaxed it is much easier to move your hips w/ the motion of the horse and keep your shoulders level.
  • Do not hold on to the back of the saddle, this twists your body and inhibits your horse’s movement.
  • Maintain horse’s speed to avoid rushing downhill.
  • See above if asked to stop on an incline.

uphill-01Photo by Jim Edmondson