Advice for hacking out on roads?

Ruby.27

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Sep 10, 2012
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Just wondering if anyone has any handy tips for getting to grips with riding out on roads - its something I haven't done yet & the longer I leave it, the more nervous I'm getting! Bought the BHS riding & road craft but still a bit anxious about wether or not cars will see me on time, especially if there are any blind corners! The mare I have on loan is practically bombproof & doesn't do anything silly, just worried that if I get nervous or unsure she might panic & we could both get hurt. Would really like to push on with my riding this year & get set for the nice long hacks in the summer but until I master the busier roads I'm stuck with the little 40minute route thats quieter. Also would like to be able to get out hacking alone & not rely on others to come with me (haven't ridden since last weekend in november because of this :( .) So if there is anyone out there that had a similar problem once upon a tine & knows how to get over it I'd really appreciate any tips!! Xxx
 

Joyscarer

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Dec 30, 2006
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Hi viz you and the horse up to the eyeballs.

Carry a long schooling whip, preferably brightly coloured, and carry it so it sticks out a mile to make cars have to slow down and go wider. Don't be tempted to then hold it in or push the horse too close to the kerb as you'll want room to move into if needs be.

Keep your ears open and don't be tempted to have headphones or music on.

Acknowledge drivers and try to catch their eyes with a smile, before they go past.
 

ponymagic

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^^^^ All the above!

Wear hi vis gloves so your hand signals are clearer
Be aware of any spooky plastic bags, birds etc in hedge/ field alongside the road to divert/ lessen any spooks
Mentally note any handy passing places in case of large vehicles

Enjoy!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Most anything in riding has to be learned - by both horse and rider.
I dont like hacking on roads but I (unfortunately) have learned to do it by hacking from riding schools where the hacks were on roads, or where you had to ride on roads to get to the bridle tracks. My first ever hack was through a housing estate in snowy icy weather and past a cement mixer churning on the pavement.
Do you know anyone with a horse used to road walking which you could ride together with someone else so you yourself could get used to it? Then you could teach your own horse little by little. Gradually building up where you go and adding distance. That is what a friend of mine has done.
To cheer you up, she has a large (heavy) horse whom she leads out a good deal and rides on what I think of as eccentric, suburban wanders - She obviously feels safer extending her road routes, than out on the commons.
 

Ruby.27

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Thanks everyone :) haha, my loan mare is great & doesn't tend to take much notice of anything around her but don't fancy my chances riding her past a cement mixer :p she nearly had a heart attack when we seen those wild pigs that day! As it turns out, the horse I am riding is the most experienced, but if I don't react the way I should to say, a lorry or van, I dare say she'll feed off of my nerves and we could end up in trouble. The road that I'm thinking of riding on isn't very busy & it only makes up around a mile of the route, its just a bit twisty at places so have it in my head that drivers might not spot the 16.2 mare & my 5'8" self clad top to toe in hi viz ;)
 

Flipo's Mum

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I was a bit nervous of riding alone on roads and have had foot soldiers near me, behind me, far infront, etc, just to be there but not be there. Could you get someone in a car to follow you so that at least you can only worry about traffic from one direction?
Choose your time carefully. Sundays are good for avoiding tractors and lorries, and obviously not in rush hour traffic. Having a whip can function as Joyscarer advises, but also its good to have incase you get in a tight spot and have to get your horse moving quickly. (used as a back up to aids)
Also if you have the facilities to, I found hacking along the fenceline just inside a stubble field very useful for testing out how I was hacking along the road. Cars went whizzing past and my mount didn't bat an eyelid. There's knowing your horse is safe in traffic, and then there's experiencing your horse being safe in traffic. Part of it is just about repetition, constantly exposing yourself to it so that you improve.
 

Ruby.27

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Haha, I'm glad I'm not the only 1 that is a bit nervey about horse vs road - anyone else I have asked has just said theres nothing to it! Going to try & go out a wee hack 2moro, blow off the cobwebs a bit, give hacking out solo a bash thro the week or next weekend, then tackle the road in company. No point hanging about! Keep your fingers crossed for me that no1 gets injuted :S x
 

Bodshi

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Thanks everyone :) haha, my loan mare is great & doesn't tend to take much notice of anything around her but don't fancy my chances riding her past a cement mixer :p she nearly had a heart attack when we seen those wild pigs that day!

Do you know, I think you've pointed out the most worrying thing about riding even a horse who is bombproof in traffic on the road. OH's horse doesn't bat an eyelid at tractors, waggons etc but he does get spooked by livestock and other silly things, so if we have to pass something he doesn't like at the side of the road he could potentially spook out into the traffic. Hi Viz should help in these situations as hopefully most drivers will see you well in advance and be taking extra care as they pass you. My RI holds up her hand and stops traffic if she thinks there might be a problem while she negotiates a sticky spot on her young horse, but she is a mounted policeperson in her day job, so has the confidence to do this! I'm not always so cool and collected!
 

Ruby.27

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Thats totally it, a lorry could wizz by her bum, a bus could speed toward her at 60mph - and she doesn't even flinch! Then she sees a wheelie bin she doesn't like the colour of & she has a flaky. Bit of leg seems to snap her out of it & reassure her that it is infact NOT going to kill her & it's safe to pass - just unsure of how that kind of situation would pan out on a road when there isn't much room for error. It's not something i'll be trying on my own anytime soon anyway so fingers crossed it all goes smoothly :) otherwise, i'll post pictures of my injuries :p
 

Joyscarer

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That's Joy to a T. She's not phased by traffic, doesn't see it as a danger, so will spook away from a gate post into traffic.

That's why I carry a long ship help out wards. It gives me much needed space, just in case.
 

LindaAd

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The best advice anyone gave me about hacking out was not to stare at potentially scary objects! It's amazingly how easy it is to do that and not realise it, and of course the horse picks it up and worries or spooks.
 

Ruby.27

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Omg I don't carry a long *ship* but I do carry a long *whip*!

Ha! I knew what u meant!! I carry one but never use it, good to have though just incase she needs a short sharp shock back into reality :| decided once I'm totally confident doing the small circuit alone, I'll tackle the roads in company. Need to build my confidence as much as possible, if I don't have it in myself I'm pretty sure my horse won't have it in me!
 

Ruby.27

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The best advice anyone gave me about hacking out was not to stare at potentially scary objects! It's amazingly how easy it is to do that and not realise it, and of course the horse picks it up and worries or spooks.

Totally agree, the difference is like night & day! I've let her get her knickers in a twist over daft things before, probably because I was more cautious of it than she was! Then other times where I haven't cared less about something potentially spooky & completely ignored it she hasn't batted an eyelid! People keep telling me that riding is 95% confidence 5% balance - and I'm starting to believe them!
 

Mary Poppins

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I just don't do it. I have a very safe horse who is not bothered by much, but for me the risk is too much. I don't mean to be un supportive, but you need to consider that riding on the road does carry more risks. My advise is that if you do it you need to be a confident, strong rider who is capable of thinking ahead and keeping calm. If you are a nervous hacker (like me) the roads are not the place to ride.
 

Ruby.27

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Not unsupportive at all, i think you're right, if you aren't completely confident about hacking out on the quieter routes then the roads are a definite no go. The roads I'm thinking of tackling are pretty quiet country roads that are bhs approved routes. Plus the girls I hack with have been riding their entire lives & are both qualified instructors. Definitely not something I'll do lightly.
 
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