Last Updated on May 18, 2022
Can horses go downstairs? Can they climb upstairs? How do you train a horse to go up and downstairs? Let’s find out everything you need to know about if can horses go downstairs!
Can Horses Go Downstairs?
In theory, horses can go downstairs, but this is not always easy for them. The physique of the horse is not well adapted to going downstairs, for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, the horse has a poor vision when it comes to objects directly in front of them. This makes it hard for the horse to see the next step below them. The horse may need to find the next step by feeling with his forefoot if he cannot visualize it properly.
The horse’s anatomy also makes it difficult for them to walk downstairs. When going downhill, a horse will normally crouch down on its hindquarters and feel the way with his forelegs. This is far more difficult on stairs, and the horse may stumble or try to rush down the stairs.
Can Horses Go Downstairs? The movement of a horse’s hind legs also makes it difficult to come downstairs, as they have to extend the leg downwards to find the next step. This is a difficult and unnatural movement for a horse.
However, this does not mean that horses are not able to go downstairs! Some horses can be trained to navigate stairs safely, but this is a complex training exercise which is normally carried out by advanced equestrian trainers. A more novice horse and handler combination can build up to this by working on going up and down small steps at a steady pace.
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Can Horses Go Upstairs?
Horses are far better at going upstairs than downstairs, but it can still be a tricky problem for them. The hindquarters of a horse are powerful, and able to propel the bodyweight of a horse upstairs easily. It is also easier for the horse to see the stairs and find the next step when going upstairs compared to downstairs.
You will often see horses navigating a single step or two with ease, such as into a barn or trailer. However, this is much more simple than attempting to climb a flight of stairs, and this is not something that should be attempted without prior training.
Teaching your horse to go upstairs can be a fun task, particularly if you like doing agility training with your horse. Each horse will have different levels of skill and confidence when it comes to going upstairs, and this process should be undertaken carefully and slowly.
Can Horses Be Trained To Go Up And Downstairs?
Horses are intelligent and agile animals and can be trained to walk up and downstairs. This exercise is often part of horse agility classes, and training your horse to go up and downstairs can improve his confidence and physical ability.
Like any training exercise, start slowly by asking your horse to go up or down just one small step. You can then gradually build on this exercise until your horse is going downstairs with confidence. Make sure that any stairs you use are safe and secure, and able to support the weight of a horse.
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What Is The Best Horse Stairs Alternative?
Taking a horse up or downstairs can be a dangerous thing to do, and it is often best to find an alternative option. Steps can be replaced with a gentle slope, which is far less likely to cause a horse to trip or fall. When a horse panics going up or downstairs he might be tempted to jump instead, and this can cause a nasty accident.
If you cannot get away from using stairs, try to create wide, shallow steps that are easier for your horse to ascend and descend. Make sure the surface of the steps is not slippery, and that the horse can see the individual steps easily. Marking a thick line at the edge of each step can make the stairs easier for your horse to go down.
Never try to force your horse to go up or downstairs if he is reluctant. A panicking horse may slip, trip, or even jump, causing injury to the horse and rider or handler.
Summary – Can Horses Go Downstairs?
So, as we have learned, the question: can horses go downstairs? depends on the individual horse and the type of stairs. Most horses will be able to go down a shallow flight of steps, as long as the steps are wide enough for the horse to navigate easily. Horses will need special training to go down steep stairs, and this is not something that should be attempted by a novice or inexperienced rider.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on can horses go downstairs! Have you managed to train your horse to go up and downstairs? Or maybe you’ve got a question about the best way to teach a horse to go downstairs? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
How Steep Can Horses Climb?
Horses are very agile and nimble animals, and can climb relatively steep hills and inclines. A feral or wild horse can traverse rough terrain, climbing up hillsides and clambering over rocky ground. Horses and mules can easily cope with inclines of up to 10%, and will be able to climb steep hills of up to 20% provided the terrain is suitable.
How High Can An Average Horse Jump?
Most horses have a natural jumping ability, and an untrained horse will be able to jump heights of 2 to 3 feet. A trained horse can jump considerably higher than this. The world record for the highest jump cleared by a horse was set in Chile in 1949 by a horse named Huaso.
What Is A Horse Staircase?
A horse staircase, also known as an equestrian staircase or riders' staircase, is a gently sloping flight of steps that can be traversed by horses. The steps are long, with a short drop between each one. They were often included in classic architecture to allow horses to be taken into castles, palaces, citadels, and town centers.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse
care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since
she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local
stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She
has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in
various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the
patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went
on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in
the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of
horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for
educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN REVN RVN A1