View Full Version : Hacking horrors
11th Jun 1999, 12:37 PM
Yesterday, I went hacking for the first time in 20 years and, although I had really been looking forward to it, it was a terrifying experience.
The horse I rode was my favourite one, and I was told she was great in the woods, but as soon as we left the stables, I felt I was sitting on dynamite. Yes, she was oozing with energy, very responsive, and the trot was beautiful, but I was terrified of her tripping up.
There was only one horse behind us, but the rider didn't keep enough distance between us so my horse was constantly trying to kick her. This pushed us close to the horse in front of us, and mine reared every time she made an unusual move. This, together with the trains, cars and cyclists, made my horse very nervous (it felt like she was tiptoeing, ready to charge off), and she seemed to come close to losing her balance on the muddy, uneven path all the time.
Were my fears of her falling realistic -- does that happen alot? What can the rider do to help the horse maintain her balance?
I really don't think I'll want to go hacking in the near future (which is a shame because when things went well, I really felt I had grown wings -- wonderful!). Not only did it make me nervous, but I was also extremely annoyed because the rider behind kept blaming me for ruining her hack because I allowed my horse to kick. Could I have stopped her? I felt the rider should have kept more than just a few inches between us.
11th Jun 1999, 12:54 PM
I'm sorry to hear that you had such a bad hack yesterday.
With regard to your horse kicking the one behind, if your horse has shown its displeasure at having another horse up its backside by kicking out once, the rider behind should keep her horse back. If she carries on riding too close - she is just asking for it really! She probably got cross because she couldn't hold her horse back. If you have the same trouble again, why don't you ask the hack leader if the person behind can overtake you.
Horses can fall over, but as they are going on four legs and not the two we have, they are a lot more stable. it is easy for them to stumble a bit, but this really isn't a big problem and should not cause the rider too much to worry about. As the horse you were riding was (I assume) used to this ride, I am sure she would have taken care of you! i have had my horse 2 years now and she is a bit of a fool but has still never fallen over with me on her. if i think how many times i have fallen over by myself going up stairs too fast (because i am unco-ordinated!) in the last 2 years i hope that puts it into perspective!
your horse was probably acting the fool a bit as she could sense that you were worried about her falling and were getting stressed by the rider behind (quite justifiably!). This would have made her much more jumpy at the cars, trains, etc. Hopefully on your next hack you won't have someone so close behind you and you really don't need to worry about your horse falling.
11th Jun 1999, 05:21 PM
Sorry to hear you had such a bad time. I also had a bad experience on a hack which made me very nervous of going out (all six horses on the hack were spooked by a boy with a remote control car and took off - three people fell off as we were all inexperienced). In fact I avoided going on hacks for some time because I was terrified. I recently decided that I should be brave and go out on a hack as it seemed silly to just have lessons and never go out so I phoned around several stables and told them that I was nervous and could they help. The first hack I went on after that was another disaster - they took me out on a very busy road and the horse I was riding kept lowering her head right to the ground and pulling the reins out of my hands - not a good start so I continued phoning other stables. I eventually I found a stable who understood how I felt - they assured me that they could help and I have now been out with them about 6 times. They took it slowly and gave me a good steady horse to ride and this has really given me loads more confidence - in lessons as well as out on hacks. I think I'm really trying to say persevere with it even if you feel nervous.
As regards the kicking that really is the problem of the person behind you - they MUST stay back or they will get kicked - it should not be your worry. Usually on a hack the leader would say that a horse who is known to kick should go last anyway.
Regarding the horse falling over - it's very unlikely that they will as they have four legs to keep their balance with. Horses feel at their most vulnerable when lying down so they want to fall over even less than you do! Keep trying and you'll learn to enjoy hacking and will eventually stop worrying about the stumbling.
13th Jun 1999, 12:34 AM
I've been riding for three months and have been on several hacks. I am amazed by the differing standards I have found. I think JCB's message is important - find a centre you like and stick with it. I've found three I like and 4 I don't like. Horses tanking off, constant rein snatching, bucking, prancing, shying at everything... it's all there! Some of the better centres have uninteresting locations and some of the fine locations have dubious standards. When you have found the right place it will be wonderful and you'll want to go all the time! As for the horse kicking the one behind, well, how could she expect you to avoid it? It worries me that horses are allowed to bunch up. My instructor always warns us never the get within kicking distance of another horse, regardless of it's tendency to kick. The leader should have had a bit more sense, I'm afraid. Where are you located? I hope there are lots of options.
15th Jun 1999, 12:23 PM
Thanks so much for the advice! I haven't been out hacking since, but that's because the opportunity hasn't risen. I will go as soon as I get the chance.
I was so worried about the horse falling because they keep warning you about it so much there. As no horse of theirs has fallen on a hack (which I only now heard), I have managed to put it all into perspective.
I'm afraid I'm out of options as far as changing schools is concerned. I had a lesson at every single yard in the neighbourhood already and I'm now taking lessons at two different places which seemed decent, although far from perfect. To be honest, as far as hacking is concerned, the locations around here vary from uninteresting to dangerous and boring (I'm living in the Netherlands -- still not used to the flatness) so not a great deal of pleasure to be derived from there.
I guess the main thing for me is to get to ride a bomb proof horse. I'm sure, however, that knowing that a little bit of stumbling does not mean a nasty fall will give me more confidence (which, in turn, may calm down the horse...).
17th Jun 1999, 06:50 PM
I guess I may just be an idiot... :)
Could someone explain what hack riding is? The way it sounds to me is just plain old 'trail riding'. Thanks
17th Jun 1999, 11:06 PM
The foot care of many school horses in the Netherlands can be a problem. I will be over teaching the first week in July, and the horses, because they are very near the dunes and the beach are never shod. Nothing wrong with this, ans the going is very good, it is the fact that the feet are left very long and splitting before they have any attention, if at all. This can cause stumbling.Unshod feet should still be regularly trimmed. In England, riding school owners must keep their horses feet in good trim, otherwise they could find their license revoked.
Having said all this, I have ridden many different horses with indifferent feet over there, and have never felt that any were not sure footed. I am looking forward to my yearly flat out gallop, eight or ten abreast, along the beach at Nordvijk! Mind, you, as part of it is a naturist beach, it does lend a new meaning to the words 'ten abreast'!!!!!
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