Working your horse on hills can be a great way to develop strength and stamina. It engages their core muscles and helps to build stronger hindquarter muscles. Many riders engage in hill work to build up their horse’s topline. There are a few different approaches to getting the most out of hills.
1. Walk beside your horse: Both of you can reap the rewards when you hand walk your horse up and down the hills. It’s a great place to start, as you horse doesn’t have extra weight to carry. You can start small and gradually increase the intensity and size of the slope.
2. On the lunge line: Lunging your horse on a gently sloping hill can be a great exercise. Start by letting your horse walk on a 20 meter circle up and down the hill. This will allow them to find their footing and get comfortable. Increase the difficulty by asking them to trot and perform transitions.
3. Under saddle: Go for a ride and incorporate some hill work. Remember to start slowly and don’t expect too much too soon. Allow your horse to walk up and down gently sloping hills before you both climb mountains.
4. Travel across the hill: Most riders just travel up and down, but walking across one helps to build balance. Make should to do both the right and left directions. Your horse will have to be conscious of their footfalls. It teaches them to be nimble on their feet.
5. Go over poles: No hills? Ride or hand walk over a series of poles on the ground. This can provide similar benefits.
It can be fun to change things up and incorporate new exercises. Your horse will be looking their best in no time!
Head over to 10 Ways To Build Your Horse’s Topline for more fun ways to condition your horse.