Advice on hacking

jodiana

Active Member
Feb 15, 2012
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Hi I'm having trouble hacking my mare , we are currently working on topline & collection and she is coming on well, the last 15 mins of my lesson yesterday I mananged to ask her to drop down to collect her self I felt like she was actively listening to me and allowing me to ride her correctly, she is a very high headed horse & very stubborn, I'm trying to get out hacking with her but if I have a loose relaxed rein her heads in the air looking around too busy to listen to me which can cause her to spook (when she's scared she bucks on the spot) it's her way of releasing pressure but if I have a tight rein she fights with me and if she spooks she reacts even worse if I have a contact on the mouth, what I find I have to do is drop the reins and bear hug her and she stops, should I wait until the communication between us is better in the school before hacking? I don't know what to do for the best? She scares the crap out of me during her moments and its knocking my confidence I don't want to give up on this as I really want to Hack, is she taking the mick, should I be stronger I don't know what to do for the best arghhhh!
 

squidsin

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Feb 16, 2013
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I had to hack my girl out in a schooling contact at the weekend as she was being a silly spooky pest so maybe it's something in the air! Would a martingale help? I hack my mare in one, as she likes to stick her head in the air to evade the bit too. Also maybe a different bit, although I am no expert on those. I don't think the spooking on hacks will change much as you school her, unless perhaps you think she'll stop doing it once she knows you're boss, which is possible I suppose. Sorry, not much help really!
 
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Jessey

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Have back, tack and teeth been checked? You could review your feed too, my mare was a bugger at the weekend spooking at ridiculous things and she is normally rock solid so thinking its the haylage I've put her on.
Could you try doing some de-sensitising in the school then progress to hand walking 1 set route until its so boring for her shes half asleep?
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
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I have to say when my boy was a stressy idiot no dealings with the reins made a blind bit of difference to him. Once his head was up, it was up and he would do as he pleased.

The only thing that works with him is saying no to his back with my seat bones. When his head goes up, his back goes down - it's like sitting in a hole. The more his head goes up and his back drops, the deeper I have to sit, the more I have to concentrate on being upright and pushing my seat bones right down into him. Then I get his attention and (eventually) his obedience.

I really really understand how scary it is when the horse has its head in the air and is ignoring you. If you are trying to control this with just the reins, my experience is that you're on a loser. Legs, seat and back have always been more help to me.
 

jodiana

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Feb 15, 2012
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It could be the spring air she's just had her regular dental appointment this sounds daft but should I maube trot if she raises her head to look at something? She's on a diet at the moment she's kept on all her winter weight so had to reduce her feed or other wise she will double when the spring grass comes which is soon, I will try a Martingale at least I will have sonethong to hold on too in her mare moments
 

jodiana

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Feb 15, 2012
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Legs seat & back will try that too she's very much a don't tell me what to do kind of horse then in scary moments panics then I have to remind her im on her back
 

squidsin

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I'm not sure you want her to think she needs to trot/run away from anything potentially scary. The best thing is to keep her attention focused on you and walk her calmly past it.
 
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Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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If the head comes up and do my utmost to ignore what my horse is looking at and act normal. I look the other way and my horse will feel that. I put my hands forward a bit, so I have a contact if I draw my hands back to the right position but otherwise I don't want my horse to think I'm concerned.
I put on my best school teacher voice and do some leg yielding left and right along the path past what is upsetting him we come out the other side.
I've walked him in hand round and round and round to the point that I now know I can let him stand and look at something now and know he's not about to freak and run, he's just interested.
Clicker helped aswell - he learnt very quickly that if we came across something new, he should touch it with his nose as he got a treat for it!
 
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jodiana

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It's more the things she spots in the distance,sheep running in a herd or a tractor in the field it's like her mind wanders I just thought by maybe keeping her busy more instead of just walking it might make a difference on the other hand I don't want her to still spook and leg it im off out today so will see how we go
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Oh I understand that. Ziggy is the guard pony for his little herd and he takes his job very seriously, so his attention is always grabbed by things in the distance. I have to say that if we are hacking I generally just let him have a look - a few seconds and then he huffs and moves on. If I want to keep him busy, I generally find that asking him for bends this way and that, or asking him to lower his head, is more helpful than asking him to speed up because that just raises his adrenaline.
 

jodiana

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Feb 15, 2012
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Well my day was completely disastrous I was all focused and determined to get through this....epic fail! Oh well there's always tomorrow!
 

jodiana

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Feb 15, 2012
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Day began with glorious sunshine however I went to work & came back was heavy fog, another horse owner had turned mine out onto yard to keep hers company with no rug so she was soaking wet, anyhow I done stables and waited until she dried off enough to saddle up, another horse owner turned up with 2 dogs (American bull mastiffs or something along them lines) she popped them in a stable whilst she was mucking out they where barking, i put her in the stall and she was immediately panicking about these dogs, spinning snorting wide eyed, I asked for them to put away, I managed to saddle up but I could tell she was still not right so I decided to walk her round the school to help calm her down she was spooking & reared, after 20 minutes of walking and reassurance I felt she was ready to ride, just I was mounting the lady had let her dogs back out, they where banging & scratching on the stable gate and managed to push it open, there's me mid mount with 2 huge dogs running at me she caught them and put them back away, and left shortly after, I was back to square 1 any how I managed to calm her down again but I could tell she wasn't with it under saddle after 30 minutes we where no further forward from when we started, I sat through the spooks & bucks to try and reassure her but I just couldn't get her attention, I was against riding out at this point so I walked her out just got to the top of the hill combines harvester drove past stupidly close I think that was the last straw ive decided not to plan my days and go with the moment ,here's to tomorrow
 

Jane&Ziggy

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It sounds to me as though you did your very best throughout in a series of difficult situations. Sometimes taking them for a walk is all that you can do. Think positive - look how much you got through without spooking & spinning yourself!

I'm not sure how much groundwork you have done with her to establish yourself as someone she can trust to lead her. If not much, this might be an enjoyable way to develop your relationship with her.
 
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jodiana

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Usually she's great on the ground she comes to call and will walk beside me from field we do what I call dancing sometimes in the school on her off days (season) she free schools lovely with arm and voice commands but she does sometimes struggle with nerves, once she's what I call lost it,it's hard to get her back, almost like a horse in bolt mode but with her she spooks & bucks on the spot its only when she can't take the pressure anymore plus she was the only one in stall today so probably felt vunerable with out the herd she could hear all the commosion but couldn't see it until the dogs came rushing out, I was more conserned about protecting her from the dogs when they ran in they where barking & growling at her and they had pretty large jaws, quite scary
 

Jessey

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It sounds like you did all the right things, walking to calm her etc, but I think sometimes its best to just accept today isnt the day to get on board but as you said tomorrow is another day. I had a very excitable horse, he was a nightmare to get back once he lost it but I found really making his brain work on what I wanted helped loads, no going large, lots of twisty turns and transitions normally got him thinking :)
 
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squidsin

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Yup, I think you did really well considering everything that was thrown at you! Bull mastiffs round my horse would make me very nervous (I know, I know, yappy dogs can be just as vicious as big dogs yada yada but big dogs look and sound scarier!) Dogs are allowed on our yard, but only on a lead. Roxy isn't a fan of combine harvesters. Some days, it seems like the fates are conspiring to spoil our riding plans!
 
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Cremola Foam

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Sounds like your having a tough time at the moment. Massive well done done for dealing with the dog situation calmly! I've had a dog attack Pedro while I was riding so always get a bit of a panic when I see dogs off the lead! (he is fine with them so long as I keep my cool!)

I read somewhere once that horses raise their heads to see things that are in the distance, something to do with their binocular vision I think. The article said they raise their heads to see what's caught their attention and decide if its a threat. And that's as a rider the best thing to do is saty relaxed, look at what the horse is looking at so they feel you are assessing it also, then look away back at where you are going, so they feel you have deemed it not a threat.

I have found this helped a lot with my boy, its hard to retrain your brain from thinking head up means they're milliseconds away from spooking to thinking they're just looking.

That said, your girl sounds more anxious and stressy than my boy, who was desperate to trust me but in order to do that needed me to.put my trust in him.

Hears to another day! X
 
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