View Full Version : Paddocks on a slope

13-03-08, 02:50 AM
Some people seem to think this is good, others seem to think this is THE most evil thing you can do to a horse.
Personally I cannot think of a better way for the horse to build muscle tone and keep fit. What do you feel? And why?


13-03-08, 03:00 AM
I don't see an issue with it as long as there is a flat area that they can rest on. I would think that if they are constantly on a slope and can get no relief that it would cause leg, hip, back issues etc, same as if we were standing on a hill for long periods of time.

My horse in SA had an extreamly steep, (nearly vertical!) long hill in one of his paddocks and he climbed up and down every day, and he had the best hindquarters, as did my friends horses. My boy had flat at the top of the hill and a lovely big flat area down the bottom. He was happy and fit. He could do the hill up or down in 30 seconds flat at a gallop to get his feeds, me watching him with eyes closed!

He never had anything out of whack. depending on the steepness, I wouldn't want any horse with conformation issues like severe cow hocks or arthritis on steep hills :)

Sorry.. rambling :)

13-03-08, 03:04 AM
hi Equuinox, our paddocks vary in slope and to bring our horses here after flat ground has built them up, it took about a week for them to be so much more stable at all the natural obstickles here,
i read on the horse prob site that ground should not be more than 5or 6 degrees especially for foals,
when we find the acres were after it will have both so they can roam at there lesure
cheers jkis
for the love of the horse
Just Keep It Simple

13-03-08, 03:07 AM
I agree with not mine. Hill work is great to help with muscle tone, but you would have to have an area that that was flat. My boys are on a hill side, both paddocks are, wouldn't say they were steep but they were definately hilly. My shelter, feed and water troughs are on the flat, but most of the grazing land in on a slope.

And i also agree with keeping the eyes closed when they come charging in for dinner, especially when it is a little slippery from the rain.

13-03-08, 03:15 AM
Looking at sloping paddocks with a different issue in mind - I think sloping paddocks are a bit harder to maintain. You are more likely to get erosion problems and it's a bit more difficult to use a tractor, or any other machinery, if the land is very sloping. I've lived on both and I think a gentle slope is good as it helps drainage, is easy to work and much easier to look after.

13-03-08, 03:21 AM
My horse always had plenty of flat grazing areas regardless of which paddock he was in, which I think is the most important thing.

Why would some people think that is evil? It's only evil if the horse has issues and can't get up or down hills without feeling pain.

13-03-08, 03:32 AM
I'd be interested in hearing arguments AGAINST keeping horses on paddocks with slopes...I can only think of positives!
They have been raising the Lipizzaners in the Alps around Piber for 200 years now and it has only benefited the horses...

13-03-08, 03:40 AM
That's what I do really want to hear - the negatives, as I can't seem to see them myself. I get a few people who tell me that their horse shouldn't be kept on a slope ALL the time..... even when they're stabled O'night in a nice flat yard, but offer no other reason than "they just shouldn't". Also the nice shady spots in all the sloped paddocks are the flat bits, and they are steep (30 - 40degree slopes).
I just want their perspective (sp?) point of view anyway, so I can understand where they are coming from.


13-03-08, 04:04 AM
See quote below taken from www.horseproblems.com.au under "Pasture management"

I personally wouldnt keep horses on sloped land long term - i have in the past over short periods of agistment due to necesity but i would never buy a property with alot of hills etc if i intended on keeping my horses on there long term - if there were flat paddocks then maybe as they would be the horse paddocks - its too dangerous they are not sure footed animals on slopes and i witnesses another ladies "leased" horse slide down a hill and snap a leg (wet hill)an instant bullet stopped the horses pain but terrorised the owner :( my horses were locked down the base of said hill with twine tied between trees to keep them on the flat that night and taken out of that paddock the next day and moved into stables.


As a general rule, I have found that the maximum allowable slope in a horse paddock should be no more than about 6%. Any steeper and it is not healthy for horses legs, causing possible 'ringbone'. Horses were not bred for 'Mountain Goat' country. I even think that grazing on steep land causes arthritis later. You cannot successfully run horses on gradients steeper than that and keep pasture or topsoil.!!!

Any more slope than that and you will have major top soil shift downhill and water run-off problems, causing erosion. The more slope, the more weed seed runoff you will get. This will cause infestation in other areas. This is the result of 5% fall on our property prior. Only Clay left and we had to buy top soil to re-start.

13-03-08, 04:29 AM
Flat paddocks are for people, easier to care for, easier to fence, easier to walk around, easier to clean.

Raise a foal in a flat spotless paddock and then take it out as an adult and complain that it doesn't even seem to know how to step over a log. It just doesn't seem to be able to get the balance and centre of gravity right when I want up ride up hill. It nearly falls over when we ride down hill, it doesn;t seem to know what to do with it's legs to balance down hill.

I love watching our foals when they first go up the bank of the dam, they almost tip over backwards before they realise how to change their wn centre of gravity to cope with it. Imagine never learning how to do that in a flat paddock. Then being expected to have a person on your back and you have to balance them as well when you never really learnt how to balance yourself first.

I hate our place it is all flat, I have to take my foals away to run on some rough steep ground. Have to ride out and pony foals and young hores to get some hill work going. Our flat property creates heaps of extra work for me.

The property I was on in Wales (UK), the only flat part was the arena and indoor school. Non of the horses had one side with longer legs than the other or any horrific injuries from resting on the side of hill. They were very sound and surefooted on x-country and hunting though.

I grew up in country that was fall of the side of the hill steep and all our horses were again sound, fit and healthy. All legs the same length as well :-)

Sorry, what was the question...negatives on sloping or hilly paddocks mmmmmmm.....for the horse NONE, for the paddock owner some increased fitness so you can keep up with your hill fit horse.

13-03-08, 04:30 AM
I wish I had some slopes - we are on creek flats and they are just too too flat. No drainage, wet feet etc. I would love to do some hill work to build my guy up but...

13-03-08, 05:54 AM
Slopes and hills are great for horses to run in, we turn all our foals onto hilly country to grown up once the new season has broken, so by this age they are basically yearlings, they run and grow in this type of country until they are ready to be brought in and broken in.
Slopes and hills help to strengthen bones, hooves and good for cardiovascular strengthening.
We have the added bonus of rocky country in the hills which gives the horses a chance to develop good strong hooves. We have never had hoof problems and never had a horse injured other than normal paddock incidents in many years of growing horses in these conditions. I for one would highly recommend it fo any horse.
As for a "ladys horse sliding down a hill and breaking its leg" I had a friend whos horse was the most well cared for horse in the safest of large yards snap a leg running around having a play. Accidents and injuries do happen that is a fact of life, horrific accidents happen daily across the country flat ground, hilly ground, dry ground, wet ground, things just happen and no matter how much you try to make an accident free enviroment for your horse, these nasties can and will get you at some time. It is all part of having livestock.
Sorry can't give you nay negatives for hilly ground unless your horse is hard to catch, and you are climbing hills after it, to me that would be one big negative...


13-03-08, 06:09 AM
LMFAO... that would be a negative, and I am beginning to suspect people walking on and across slopes is the number one cause of why peopld don't like them.

Sorry still laughing


13-03-08, 06:10 AM
Our property is basically a hill. The house sits at the top and the paddocks around it and down it.

The different paddocks vary in their steepness but the one thing they do all have is a flat spot for the horse to lie down - and this spot is normally under a tree, what a bonus for the horse on a hot day, hehehe.

When we moved here 18 months ago, I bought with me 2 rising 2 year olds who had only ever been raised on flat ground. One of them was naturally sure footed, he could hold his own anywhere. Bought him up here and he ran around like a complete lunatic, bucking and rearing and jumping over anything he could find. The other one, well he tip toed around for about a week. He was sooo unbalanced, couldn't co-ordinate himself to step over a stick let alone trot down the hill.

I have raised a foal on this property for the last 2 years and both are extremely sure footed and well balanced - my farrier loves them because they are so well balanced they hold themselves up to have their feet done and one is only 3 months old!

I have noticed marked improvement in the balance of all my horses since moving to our property and I will endeavour to never have them on dead flat land again.

I can say, however, that flat land does grow better grass than slopes. And have you ever tried to find someone to spray liquid fertiliser on a sloped property? No, we can't do that, it's too steep, the 4WD won't cope.
Oh, well, I must go and tell my 4WD's, and the tractor and the subaru, oh and my little ford fiesta that they are just completely incapable of driving on the property because it is tooo steep, hehehe.

Seriously though, I can see only benefits from living on hills, as long as their is some flat spots to give the horse a reprieve. Of course, I would also hesitate to put something with severe arthritis in one of my steeper paddocks, but in essence, wouldn't a slight hill be better for the arthritic horse to "make" it move?

***** Angel....with horns }> *****

13-03-08, 06:56 AM
The only negative I can see, as I said, is if the horse is arthritic or has any other faults or problems that will cause pain to get around on slopes/hills. That would be plain tourture for the horse. Also, if they slipped they may pull muscels and joints out of place.

I think horses NEED hills, as was said above to get their balance.

Our property in SA had very minimal errosion around the cliffs and down the steep banks, even after heavy rain. From a property point of view, I can't see an issue although it would depend on exactly how much, and how often the rain falls. We were out in woop woop in SA with minimal rain, but when it came, it was heavy and went on for days.

And I hate hills... too much fitness for my liking!

13-03-08, 07:23 AM
http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/emmiemurray/inspectingtheirnewpaddoc.jpg (http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/emmiemurray/?action=view&current=inspectingtheirnewpaddoc.jpg)

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/emmiemurray/FarHorizons021.jpg (http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/emmiemurray/?action=view&current=FarHorizons021.jpg)

a href="http://s225.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/emmiemurray/?action=view&current=FarHorizons070.jpg" target="_blank">http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/emmiemurray/FarHorizons070.jpg</a>

I hope these pic's work!!

My parents purchased this property in Nov 07. Prior to moving my horses there my TB mare had fractured a vertibrae in her back. My vet could not tell me 110% if she would ever be able to be ridden again. She was is the worst state i have EVER EVER seen any of my horses, her ribs were showing her hind was all sunk in and she was all tucked up through her stomach after 2 lots of accupuncture, 6 months off work 4 months on the lunge and she was still no better off. She was still dragging her N/S hind leg along the ground. I was thinking she may not even become a broodmare because of it.

Just so you get an idea of how steep it is my arena has been buit up 15 foot on the long side to make the ground level. My mare has had the last 4 months roaming around our sloping 20 acre paddock which we are in the midst of having individual paddocks put in. And is now the fattest and stockiest little TB mare you have ever seen!! She is back in work and LOVING IT!! We have been out regularly for long trails big long trots have done her wonders but i honestly think that it all comes down to the property she is on now! She is back at home with the people that LOVE HER, the whole paddock she is in runs up either side of the hill and a nice little flat spot under the trees around the dams at the bottom - lucky horses!!

I would have to say that this has not only improved her health and back problems but this has been the major reason why she can now be ridden again!! I hope the pics above worked!

Thats my story!!

Emily Murray
Far Horizons Lodge-(FHL)

13-03-08, 07:27 AM
Ok maybe they didn't work!!! sorry guys!! I will try once more then no more i promise!!





Emily Murray
Far Horizons Lodge-(FHL)

13-03-08, 07:31 AM
Hi Descalzo you brought up a point i had never even thought of before!
my friends horses lived their whole life on dead flat land!
Not you've got me thinking how would they have coped if they had ever been taken somewhere with a hill?
Would they have been able to adjust themselves even though they were in their teens and twenties.

Equinox i like slightly hilly land for the horses, think it gives them a good work out! but for lazy buggas like me :7 i like it flat as a tack (or owning a horse who comes when called LOL)

I'd agree with you, if you were right....

13-03-08, 08:17 AM
I think hilly to steep paddocks are great. My dads place has only 1 or 2 paddocks that I would call flat. Ones a creek flat just big enough for a dressage arena. everything is hilly to steep.

People always comment on how good our horses rumps are. All from just walking up & down hills!

13-03-08, 11:39 AM
My place has both. Hills and flat with some rocky outcrops. And natural water that the horses go in. They are all very sound and very healthy. Some paddocks have gravel patches or strips and horses rarely need their feet trimmed there. They all have great feet too, though some struggle when they first come here.
Can't see any disadvantages myself apart from them being harder to care for (hate driving the tractor on slopes) and maybe more susceptible to erosion.

13-03-08, 02:15 PM
my property is sloping too :)

ive never had a problem soundness wise, except when it is slippery you tend to run a bit more risk when they go for a hurtle. i swear that hills and 'rough' country are the best thing for balancing a horse, and teaching them to be more conscious of their feet. the OTTers tend to struggle when they first come home, but after a few weeks they are completely different. this suits me as im going to be asking them to gallop up and down hills when i xc them :D.

having said that, all the yards and paddocks are cleared with post and rail to minimize risk, they are just on a slope. BUT i would love a flat property...

_i've seen the infinite...its nothing special_

14-03-08, 11:36 AM
Hi Nox,

If you have paddocks on a hills/slope, it's the best way to build up muscle in young horses or keep muscle build up in older horses. How can it be EVIL?? horses were not made only to graze/roam on the flats but where ever there is fodder???
We have had many sucessful FEI horses that we have bought (actually we look more for those bought up on hill paddocks), that have been brought up on hill paddocks.


14-03-08, 12:34 PM
Horses do NOT need hills to learn to balance or build muscle. It can be great to have hills but horses actually evolved on the steppes. Which are large rolling area's. However they do learn to traverse rough country.

It's great to have this as an option but it isn't a necessity. One of the hardiest horses in the world are the horses of the Camargue in France. Yet this is flat, wet coastal land.

16-03-08, 07:39 AM
I went to a course yesterday, Managing Horses on Small Properties, with Jane Myers who has a Masters of Science in Equine Studies and she said horses should not be kept on sloping ground all the time as their joints are not designed for sideways movement which will cause damage, so you need to provide flat area as well.

16-03-08, 08:04 AM
No joints are designed for sideways movement..! I can't think of any mammalian animal with sideways moving joints.... but there are a hell of a lot on slopes. Mountain goats for example... don't have sideways moving joints either... but I think they manage ok. Sheep...ever seen the sheep on some of those rocky out crops in NZ..clinging to the side of the cliff ... but they don't have sideways moving joints. Neither do I come to think of it and I love hill work..keeps me fit.!

If horses can't cope with hilly country, someone should tell the brumbies in the high country to come on down and move in by the beach somewhere.
I can see that a slippery slope and a galloping horse could end in disaster, but I think the good outweighs the bad....I'd rather keep my horses on a hill than in a stable or a yard....now THEY are dangerous!