Recently I googled "Driving a Carriage Downhill" and found out there are a lot of "how to"s on RIDING downhill, but nothing much on DRIVING downhill. I hope here I can give you some tips for success at driving downhill with confidence.
At the bottom of this post is a video of my friend Adam Canaday coaching a new driver on how to drive a carriage downhill with a pair of horses. The vehicle does not have any brakes other than the full collars and pole between the pair of horses.
The most important part to driving a horse downhill is to set the horse up for success. -How to set them up for success?
Shorten your reins and half halt. The half halt is what lets the horses know something is coming. Use your voice calmly in low towns to give the horses a sense of confidence and quietness. A gentle pull and release of the reins over the course of a few strides will also communicate your half halt to the horses and let them know you are still there. Keep the horses' attention and do not let them run. Think of when you walk a wheelbarrow downhill: You do not run down the hill. You stand tall and slowly guide it down the hill. Relax and talk to your horses. If it isn't perfect, that is ok. Practice. Rome wasn't built in a day and driving perfectly down a hill won't happen after one drive. If you're working a single, young horses, or are learning to drive downhill yourself, plan to use breeching to help your horse balance and keep you from accidentally bumping your horse in his bum.
I hope these tips help! Reach out if we can help any other way or answer any questions!