I do a lot of trail riding with my American Quarter Horse, and we primarily ride in the hills. I've been trying to find my balance riding up and down hills, but I always feel like I'm getting in my horse's way. How should I sit when I'm riding hills?
You want to be absolutely sure you maintain your position over the center of your horse while traveling up or downhill. If you lean forward heading uphill, you are putting weight over your horse's front legs – the very legs he is trying to pick up and use!
If you lean back while traveling downhill, you are now leaning on your horse's hindquarters. He needs to get his hind end underneath himself to negotiate the hill with balance. This allows him to pick his way down slowly and carefully. Think of maintaining a position that is parallel to the trees.
If you have a friend who will allow you to sit on his or her back, play with the change in your balance and ask the friend to pick up his or her arms or legs as you move. See how your balance affects the ability to lift those appendages, then switch places. When riding on a hill, use your core abdominal muscles for balance, not your reins. Your horse needs his head for balance and has to be able to lower it to watch where he is putting his feet.
– AQHA Professional Horsewomen Angelia Robinette-Dublin and Jenny Lance
*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.