For many equine enthusiasts, getting out for a hack is one of the biggest pleasures of horse ownership and a lot of riders treasure the opportunity to get out and about on horseback.
Exhilarating and enjoyable though hacking is, leaving the safety and security of the stable, paddock and school does bring with it a variety of considerations.
Riders need to ensure that they know exactly what they’re doing if they want to keep themselves and their horses safe and have a fun, incident free hack every time.
Make sure you’re in tune with your horse
If you’re planning to take a young or inexperienced horse out on a hack, it’s important to ensure you practice cantering, trotting and changing direction before you set off.
Taking the time to work on these simple commands will help to ensure that you’re fully in tune with each other when you’re out and about and that your horse will respond quickly and correctly to your instructions when you need it to.
Once you’ve done a few practice rides in the safety of the school, take your horse out into the paddock for a canter so that they can get used to the feel of the grass and the great outdoors.
Don’t let your horse get too excited
Horse riding can be very exciting for the horse and rider alike, especially if there are a lot of opportunities to break out into a canter and really get some speed up.
To avoid your horse becoming too excited and going too fast, try not to begin cantering in open areas, on long straight tracks or anywhere that your horse has a clear view of the open space ahead.
If they know that they have a good amount of room to canter in, some horses can become very excited and as a result and can be harder to control.
Ride with a partner
Taking a partner out on a hack with you can make the experience even more fun, however if you’re going to head out with another rider, try to make sure they are sensible and won’t take off on a canter at a moment’s notice.
Horses are by nature pack animals and if one horse suddenly begins to canter, there’s a good chance your horse will follow. If you’re not prepared to change gears, this could cause you to lose control or even take a tumble.
Stay in control
Ensuring that you are in control of your horse for the duration of your ride will help you to feel safe and enjoy the hack.
If your horse begins moving a bit quicker than you’d like, sit up tall, squeeze and release your reins to ask him to slow down. Shortening your stirrups a hole or two will also give you added security if your need to pull a little harder on the reins.
With these added safety precautions considered, there is absolutely no reason you can’t make the most of hacking with your four legged friend.