I am very fortunate to have some hills right on our property. They are the perfect extra element to add something different to Frisby’s work session. And I didn’t really think about adding in some hill work when I started my challenge. I was just trying to come up with different ideas to work my horse but keep interesting for him too.
It’s just like when we walk up hills, it works our muscles differently and its more challenging, so we can do lower impact but get a big benefit. Which is why I decided to add this into my riding routine as well.
The first thing I had to do was find some hills to work. I guess I have just been oblivious to the hills I have on my own property! There are hills in the pasture, which are great for riding up and down hills while still allowing Ethan to be close by. He is getting better with his separation anxiety, but it can still be challenging!
As well as a larger hill on the side of our house.
This one is a little tougher, but still a nice hill to include in our workout.
The Benefit Of Hill Work
Hilly terrain is a fantastic opportunity for you to work your horse. Just like us, when they go up and down hills, they work different muscles which will help their overall development. Working on hills really helps to build the hind end as well as improving the topline.
Hill work is also great to improve balance, stamina and wind, meaning his respiratory system.
And when you are working on hills, it can be lower impact. Meaning you don’t have to trot for 20 minuets in endless circles. Going up and down hills in 10 minutes sessions 3 times a week is about all you need to do to give your horse a fantastic low impact work out. But you should start slowly, and build your sessions.
How To Do Hill Work With Your Horse
Once you find a hill that you can work on, now you have to come up with a plan of what you want to do with those hills. For Frisby and I, we will start with the smaller hills in the pasture.
I go around the pasture in one direction, starting with the downhill – hill.
Then we work to the bigger hill, and then go down a steeper one.
We do this several times, and then take a break. I should mention I am only walking Frisby right now. Hill work is hard work. And it takes time to build their strength, and capability to do it in trot.
After I give Frisby a break and allow him to catch his wind, about 2 minutes, we do the same thing we just did, but in the opposite direction.
And once in a while, I throw in the big hill
With the reward of him getting to eat a little grass once he has done the hill. Frisby is very food motivated. So this is a good reward for him to do some work.
Look For Hills Everywhere
Now I’m not sure what the terrain is like where you live, but if you have any hills that you can work on with your horse you should see if you can find at least one hill, or at least somewhat of an incline that you can work with.
Maybe out on a trail, or in a pasture. Or even taking your horse to a trail with hills. Even a dirt road with an incline can work really well.
I find myself looking everywhere for hills.
The trail, or the road in front of our property
The pasture, and even the embankment in front of our house. So many opportunities to work with hills!
Even my riding arena is at a slight incline. So when we go down one long side, it’s a little downhill. And we go back around the other long side, it’s uphill. I guess I am really lucky to have so many hills to work with!
And you don’t even have to be in the saddle. Your horse can experience the hills for himself as you take him for a walk.
Challenge Day 13- Hill Work
So if you have never thought about doing hill work with your horse, I challenge you to give it a try. It’s a lot of fun, and your horse will get a great workout if you can add in some hill work.
And be sure to take some photos of your horse throughout this challenge if you are doing it, so you can see if there is any change in your horse. If you are working with him (or her) every day I am willing to bet you will be able to see a difference, even though it’s only been about 2 weeks.
It definitely helps to keep me motivated to keep doing what I am doing with my horses, because the results are evident, even in just two weeks! I am very excited to see the ‘real’ after, once we get to 30 days. And because I get to open my mystery box (package) from Just Riding when my challenge is complete!