View Full Version : first hacks
3rd Feb 2003, 08:49 PM
As a middle aged novice (very novice!), I have never wanted to hack out if it involved roads. My mare was bred at a dressage yard and had never hacked out when she came to me last April. She has been taken out a few times for her own training by a more experienced rider, so she has seen something of the outside world. She has spooked a bit at road signs etc, but no big problems encountered apparantly. I have taken her around a forty acre field a few times and after some initial tension each time following a napping session before leaving the yard, I've enjoyed it, albeit it felt a bit limited.
The thing is, I'm moving to a yard on a large estate where there is plenty of hacking that does not require going onto roads. I'm looking forward to giving us both the opportunity for riding outside the arena, but I'm also apprehensive as I know it will require me to keep my body (if not my mind) as relaxed as possible when she sees something she does not like the look of. I am easily nervious on horse back, but I know to learn to enjoy hacking, I have to do it. I have an experienced friend who will come out with me and I'm told there are several other older riders, some novices who "like to amble around" who I can go out with. I think it should be good for me and my mare and hopefully all will go well. I suspect some of you have already been in my position and I wondered if you had any tips.
3rd Feb 2003, 09:27 PM
No tips, sorry--just sounds like you're going to be having a lot of fun :)
I would think that since you're going out in a group with experienced riders and horses, spooking should be minimal :) so you can just relax & enjoy yourself!
4th Feb 2003, 09:26 AM
Just make sure before you go out that anyone else must go at the pace you feel comfortable with. This will help to build up your confidence.
5th Feb 2003, 03:26 PM
Hey, Ann, we're swapping positions. I'm just taking dressage lessons (and loving it!) and you are beginning to hack out. Think we should swap experiences!
Keeping relaxed is this thing. Horsey will pick up on your nervousness. If you have a spooky horse, you will soon learn to stay on and keep calm, even when they go from a sedate walk to a mad canter all within the space of 2 seconds! The first time you do it and manage to not only stay on but stay calm, you'll feel like a million dollars! Having said that, you can take precautions if you know the area you're riding in. We have a particulaly iffy spot on our ride - the horse-eating ducks on the pond. As long as I sing to Pally, and keep breathing steadily and don't tense, he is fine. The moment I tense up in readiness for him, he spooks!
Let us know how you get on. In the meantime, I'm off to practice slowing/stopping Palls with my upper thighs and backside muscles only. ;)
5th Feb 2003, 04:11 PM
You could invest in a body protector for that extra confidence builder, you may never need it but the thought of having it on "just in case" could add some security to your state of mind while out on the trails.
5th Feb 2003, 04:27 PM
Thanks everyone. I'll bare the horse eating ducks in mind. I wonder if they are related to the horse eating dressage letters? that 'E' especially ........ Mmmm Enjoy the Dressage Hetfinch.
11th Feb 2003, 11:06 PM
Try singing or humming either out loud or to yourself when you feel yourself getting nervous. Because singing regulates your breathing you will automatically calm both you and your horse down. Sounds mad, looks daft (or the other way round!) but works! Best of luck.
12th Feb 2003, 01:12 PM
I have no tips either, but it sounds wonderful to have all the nice trails on property. I'm sure it will be great for both of you. Keep us posted.
12th Feb 2003, 10:28 PM
The singing thing is very effective I think, I have used it when schooling and I'm sure that in addition to regulating rider breathing, it relaxes the horse (probably at least partly because it relaxes the rider). My first hacks are scheduled for this weekend. I'm really looking forward to them. Crossed fingers for the weather.
12th Feb 2003, 11:20 PM
some rides you will just want to relax. But don't forget that it can be a great way to carry on training. e.g. leg yield back and forward across a track. Keeps them focused, listening, and you tend to get a bit more oomph in the leg yield.
13th Feb 2003, 01:33 PM
I've been in your situation (as you know) and all I can suggest is that you TRY to relax because the horse will feel it if you are nervous and will react to it.
Try Dr Bach's Recovery Remedy - It's available from most health shops/Botts Chemists and it really seemed to help me stay calm when I first attempted roadwork with Sam. I also always ride in a body protector as it makes me feel much braver and that passes to Sam so he calms down.
I've also just invested in an Aussie stock saddle which is really secure and really boosts my confidence - I'll send you the photos via email when my home computer is back on line (it's kaput at the moment & all my photos are on there.)
Anyway, you'll love hacking out, there is nothing else like it and you'll soon be cantering all over the place.
13th Feb 2003, 06:08 PM
Singing! Yes I do that too. Although I tend to reserve it for when I am hacking out alone lol!!
14th Feb 2003, 05:59 PM
I did my first solo hack last weekend - makes for such trust with horsey. LOVE her!! I'm going to take my clicker this weekend and encourage her through spooky bits, and try slowing down without rein aids.
15th Feb 2003, 12:01 AM
You'll love it, especially as you have no road work to worry about . Bliss. Enjoy the scenery, talk to your nag - look at that rabbit/hare etc, relax by singing nursey rythmes. Enjoy the time spent with your horse, and put the 'what ifs' behind you, there aren't any. Have fun. L
15th Feb 2003, 12:20 AM
How can relax, when I am terrified, my body shakes like a leaf and my heart beats like thunder?
How do I prevent the horse from sensing my panicky state of mind? How do I stop myself from getting even more nervous when I feel his muscles twitching under my legs?
How do I get in control, when all I can think of are the big words SPOOK, BOLT?:eek:
With a different perspective from you, my safety vest tells me "danger time", "accident time". When I look at it, hanging on the door from my tack cupboard, that's all I can think of. :(
16th Feb 2003, 12:53 PM
Well, this was to be the weekend of several small hacks. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the yard yesterday, I was loooking for something in a friends tack box when a sharp piece of mental cut away part of the tip of my finger Arhh (mental note - beware other people's stuff may be hazardous, especially in darkened location). After much drama, swearing, blood, dressings etc, I went on a short hack anyway. The finger hurt and interfered with rein holding and my saddle was slipping (getting it checked). I had planned relaxing cheerful trots. It ended up being a tense walk. When I got back the finger was bleeding from being knocked, so I'm givin g riding a miss for a couple of days in effort to get the finger on the mend. I will revisit hacking next weekend. I did notice that my mare is strong and will walk (and doubtless trot and canter accordingly) through my hands. She is lovely but will do this. She wares a flash with a eggbut jointed snaffle. She hates the flash and my instructor has suggested in the past that rather than change the bit, I might want to try a drop noseband. A friend has one I could try and I thought of trying a myler. Anyone got experience of this?
16th Feb 2003, 02:27 PM
I've just bought a new horse. 2 weeks ago to be precise. Todya is the first time I've had the opportunity to ride her due to having to wait for a saddle to arrive (which it did yesterday...yippee).
This morning my mare, whose 4 and I went for a hack with a 10 yr old sensible TB mare with whom my mare gets on well. We also had a young girl on a pony who is calm and whose rider is very competent.
As it was her first hack in new surroundings, she was very excited which is saying somehting as she's the calmest thing I've ever met. Within 2 minutes we were in a fast trot and regardless of what I did, she contiuned in the fast trot. She wasnt being stupid, just excited to get going.
Anwyay, rather than take her on the road and risk her getting even more excited, I decided to turn around and come back home.
So what I plan to do in future is this; have a quick 10 minute spin around the arena first, then start with short rides away from the yard, then turn around and come home again. I hope to build her up so she gets more used to the new scenery and no longer finds it all so exciting.
As with you, I get nervous if I think I'm losing control, which of course only makes you lose control, so I'm hoping this will be a way around it for us. Maybe it will work for you?
16th Feb 2003, 07:49 PM
Stella2, apologies if I am stating the obvious, but you want to try out any changes in a controlled way.e.g. don't change both the noseband and the bit at the same time !
There are lots of different myler bits - so you might need to say which one to get any response from others. I have not tried any, and have heard both good and bad stories. I think it is better to have someone who is an expect in bitting look at your horses mouth and understand your problems, then suggest the right Myler bit. This seems to result in better responses. You might want to bear in mind that many of the Myler bits would not be allowed for dressage.
Why does your horse hate the flash ? If she hates the feel around her mouth, why would a drop be any different ? It just fits lower. The drop and flash nosebands are supposed to come into action when the horse is close to the limit of control, and stop them opening/crossing their jaw too much.
If she is still being very forward despite having a flash, I would want to look at how happy she is in her mouth and in her back, and then consider options. Is she any better to stop in a school ? Is it just outside (excitement, anxiety etc) ? If she is just a bit full of life, then upping the bit to get more controlmight just bottle up the energy and not solve the problem.
But then none of us can actually see the horse in action, so it might be interesting to ask your instructor why she thinks a drop noseband would help ?
17th Feb 2003, 10:40 AM
CVB, rather oddly she seems to dislike the feel of the flash strap, it makes her want to scratch. My logic (which might not be!) is the drop noseband does not sit in the same area. As I understand it, the drop gives some pressure on the nose when you close your hands, the flash noseband simply prevents the horse from opening its mouth. She is a pretty obedient mare. Funny, but its just a longstanding issue with halt and she will come down the gates nicely! but since she will just walk through the hands, it seems to make sense to address it if we'll be hacking out. She is quite numb on the right rein. I can't remember the name of the myler I had in mind, I do know that each side is very independant of the other, it gives the horse room the swallow etc and a bar rolls down onto the tongue when the hands close and softens when the horse responds. My sadler is experienced in Mylers and I will take advice from her if the drop does not suit her.
17th Feb 2003, 01:19 PM
?? I don't think the drop is going to act that differently, it just sits lower. Its still sitting below the bit.Unless you are thinking of something like a kineton rather than a drop ? Or some of the Myler bits are 'combination' bits where the action includes a nose action.
I can't recall if you have said anything about having her teeth checked - the 'numb' right side might be in the mouth (hence a dentist check) or might be in muscles/joints - perhaps a physio or chiro could help there ?
All of the general health stuff may sound unconnected to behaviour out hacking, but if a horse has a headache, they are not going to behave as well ! (Although its difficult to prove whether horses have headaches or not - but why shouldn't they feel pain in a similar way to us ?).
17th Feb 2003, 08:09 PM
She doesn't behave badly at all, she just takes it upon herself to keep walking sometimes when asked for halt. Had her teeth done in May and checked again in Dec (would have been Oct but took that long to get the good dentist out!). Had her checked out by an equine physio just as a routine and he said she is in great condition and more flexible than avarage. Its the front of the flash she tries to rub so maybe she would prefer the drop. I'll let you know.
17th Feb 2003, 08:29 PM
Hi, I have very little experience but my mare would walk through a request for halt, well barge through it really and would be trying to jump over the contact. I had a saddle made for her (Saddle Co.), took the flash off that she had had when I bought her, put 2 reins on her bubble bit and made sure I asked for a halt with seat first, then hands. We would practice this often out hacking. In the end I had her square halting, in the school by using my seat alone, from trot. Out hacking we would get the halt, no fuss.
17th Feb 2003, 10:07 PM
Amanda, thats interesting. I'll give it a try.
24th Mar 2003, 10:21 PM
Just wanted to say the hacking is going well. I've been out about 5 times now. I don't much like going down hill (mental images of mare slipping - friend keeps saying "remember she has 4 legs"). My apprehension is diminishing and I just have moments of it now. During the rides, I have ridden through the river ford and a short way up a road. My mare has been a star. I changed her from the flash to the drop, she seems to prefer it and now accepts halt reasonably well, though she can be bargy at gates etc through impatience.
Hope the dressage is coming along Heather.
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