One of the greatest pleasures of horse ownership has to be exploring the beautiful countryside from the saddle. However, for some riders it can prove to be a nightmare. Here at Bridleway we have put together some tips to help you deal with some of the hacking issues you might encounter and keep you safe.
A fear of spooking
Spooky horses are generally very sensitive to their surroundings and can often be fearful of the environment once they leave the security of the yard. They have a strong flight instinct. So if a spooky horse becomes scared of something, he may react by leaping, refusing to go forward, spinning, or even rearing or running away.
With a spooky horse, it’s important to do as little as possible to increase your horse’s adrenaline and make him more afraid. If he tries to spin round, keep his head facing the object but then if he stands quietly looking at it then leave him alone. Some horses just need time to do a risk assessment.
When your horse lowers his head towards the object, encourage him to take a step forward. Use your legs to give him confidence, but don’t force him when he is scared. One single step forward should be rewarded and the pressure taken off. Allowing him to relax after a step in the right direction will build his trust in you.
Horses nap for several reasons, most commonly because they are worried about where they’re going or they simply want to return to their friends. Both situations indicate a lack of respect and trust for the rider and it’s important to nip this in the bud before it becomes ingrained. The key is to be able to move his hindquarters from side to side to stop him planting or whipping around and for him to be respectful of your forward aids – even if it means trotting rather than walking to get him thinking forward.
Getting off a horse who is spinning in the road is not giving in to him, it’s often the safe, sensible thing to do. If you have to lead him to get him to think forward, then do so until you feel it is safe to get back on. Nappy horses often fare better when ridden out with bolder horses or repeating the same route until they are comfortable doing that route. Avoid hacking nappy horses together, though, as they rub off on one another!
Make hacking as enjoyable as you can for your horse. Vary the routes, jump him over logs, trot and canter when the ground is good and don’t take him on roads with fast traffic that might frighten him. Remember to wear reflective gear at all times whether on or off the roads as you can be spotted by other horse riders, cyclists and dog walkers more easily.
And above all, enjoy it. Hacking should be a pleasure so team up with other riders and go for pub hacks, or picnic rides and make the most of the summer months ahead.
Ride Out UK Week
Bridleway Equestrian is a proud supporter of Ride Out UK Week and we recently joined forces with The British Horse Society for the nationwide campaign.
Ride Out UK Week aims to encourage riders to celebrate all the wonderful off-road riding tracks across the UK and to record routes and keep them open for future generations.
With the aim of raising funds for the BHS’s Paths for Communities Fund, which supports projects throughout the UK to create, repair or restore bridleways, byways and multi-user routes, we have created maps in all our stockist’s local areas. The maps, which are free to download here, show local bridleways which are perfect for hacking out – so why not download a map and try out a new route today?
We’ll also be announcing our fundraising total for the Paths for Communities Fund on Facebook and Twitter soon!