advice on how to start hacking...

sophie33

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Aug 8, 2004
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Okay, so I am now regularly riding my share horse in the school. I ride solo but also with a friend who rides another horse also owned by my RI. Two other sharers regularly hack out our two girls - Flicka and Brandy - so we are under no obligation to do so. However, with the sun shining I am getting a little itch to begin to do a small amount of hacking. There is a short hack, 'the river ride' which requires no road work and I'm tempted - after working in the school one day to just try a small loop. BUT - my friend isn't keen. I entirely understand this because the horse she rides, Brandy, is much sharper than Flicka and, having recently recovered from a broken wrist, she doesn't want to hack at the moment. Also as a total scaredy cat I know how horrible it is to feel pressured to do things so I wouldn't dream of trying to push her.
The other sharers do rarely take F out solo and she is okay, but she is mainly hacked with Brandy. So is it too silly of me to start to wonder if I could try a little solo hack on the Flickster? I was thinking of roping in a foot soldier and going after working in the school, even if it is just a few hundred yards first time to prove we can.
 

juliecwuk

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Perhaps if you are riding in the school with your friend, afterwards your friend could pop Brandy in the stable and walk on foot with you around the short hack loop?
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I agree that a short hack after schooling would be relaxing for you both. If for some reason you can't find a foot soldier, lead her out the route you intend to go for the first couple of times and ride her once you are sure that she is calm on that route.

I'd also recommend if you can that you ride a circuit rather than an out and back, but I know that's not always possible.
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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Yes to the foot soldier, its how I got my nervous cob off the yard. I had led her off prior to that, so I would also say depending on how you feel/safety, you can lead. You don't "have" to be on board all the time.
If you cant find a foot soldier pay an instructor. I paid mine just to walk out with us so we could get out.
 

sophie33

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Thank you all, very helpful advice. I'd definitely do a circuit, which is no problem on this route. I can do a very short loop (which was what I was thinking of to start) or various longer ones. I don't think I will do it when I've ridden in the school with my friend and Brandy, as Flicks and Brandy don't like being separated and I can imagine trouble if Brandy goes home and then I demand Flicks leaves the yard! Will definitely take a foot soldier though, maybe even my RI, although she has done her foot in so can't walk far or fast at the mo!
 

Mary Poppins

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I would say that you have to be very careful in your choice of foot solider and agree on exactly what they are going to do if there are any issues.

When I had owned Ben for 3 months I decided to try and hack to the riding school with a fellow livery. This involves crossing a major A road and walking along it for 20 meters or so plus hacking through woodland and open fields. A 'friend' offered to walk on foot with me and I was so grateful for her support. However, I was so incredibly nervous and really needed my friend to walk by Bens head to give me confidence. However, she insisted on walking behind him with the view that 'I had to learn to do it myself'. The other livery who was riding thought that it would be a good idea to discuss her hacking accidents on this hack and give me a running commentary to how her horse had spooked here, there and everywhere.

I survived the hack (because Ben is a superstar and always looks after me), but it didn't give me confidence, it shattered my already fragile confidence because my 'friends' had made me feel like a complete idiot and offered me no support whatsoever. I distanced myself from them since that day and have never really spoken to them since and it's taken me about 2 years to regain that 'will' to want to try to ride out with others again.If you are a nervous hacker you need to enlist the help of someone who really understands what your nerves are, or if this isn't possible then just go out by yourself. I built up my hacking confidence by going out alone and doing exactly what I wanted to do and when. Be careful of people who will try and 'fix' you. While their intentions may be good, if they don't understand you then they can do more harm than good.
 

Kite_Rider

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When I took off Belle's shoes, I was forced to walk her out in hand for a while and that in itself gave me loads of confidence as I could see exactly how she was reacting to things or not as the case may be.
Walking her out in hand the first couple of times might help you, you'll get to know the routes and be able to see how she reacts.
After that if you feel the need, get someone to walk out with you, as MP said make sure it's someone who will understand you, I used my hubby a lot, because he'd just ask me what I needed from him and get on with it.
Then once your used to that you can go out on your own or take your foot soldier but ask them to hang back a bit etc etc

Or you could just go for it, if you trust her and yourself and just do a small ride to see how you feel, or longer if the mood takes you. :)
 

sophie33

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Thanks both. I see what you mean MP, the wrong foot soldier could be worse than none at all. I can't stand people's well meaning attempts to push me further than I want to go but I have a couple of ideas of likely candidates who would have the right approach.
It is a good idea to lead first, I will ask my RI if she thinks it is a good plan for Flicks. I'll let you know how it goes!
 

Mary Poppins

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It is a good idea to lead first, I will ask my RI if she thinks it is a good plan for Flicks. I'll let you know how it goes!

In my experience, I have found that most confident horsey people scoff at the idea of leading a horse on a hack. I know that when I started to do it, people at my yard thought that it was a waste of time. It didn't give Ben confidence because he wasn't lacking confidence, but it certainly gave me confidence because I could watch from the ground and see how he reacted to certain situations. Even now, if I feel nervous or think that something might spook Ben, I get off and lead him past it.

There is a huge debate about getting off the horse when hacking with some saying that it is the worst thing that you can do. I say that you should do whatever makes you feel happy, and if you feel that you want to lead Flicka 10 times round the hack before you get on board, just do it and don't be put off by whatever other people on your yard may advise. It's taken me 2 and a half years to completely ignore the attitudes of some people and I wish that I had had more confidence in my instincts right at the start.
 

sjp1

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Sep 14, 2009
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Loads of good advice.

I don't always get off, but during the winter, fellow livery and I were caught in a MASSIVE and painful hailstorm.

No cover, because the trees had no leaves, turned for home and Tobes was kicking out at traffic because he had had an absolute meltdown. Fellow liveries horse was quite over wrought as well, so I got off and led Tobes. Very slippery with the hailstones covering the ground, but because I was on the ground he was happy and good.

Fellow liveries horse was very spooky, but because he was following Tobes who was following me, all was good.

Lot to be said for horse who feel more confident when you get off. Fellow liveries horse would not have been calmer at all, and in fact when there was some deadstock at the bottom of our drive, she had to get someone with a horse to come down to collect them.

Tobes would have followed me past whatever issue there was. Hers wouldn't have. If you have to get off, you have to get off, and you learn the situations that it is safer to get off and safer to stay on.

For instance, horses galloping around in fields next to us - stay on. Something massively scarey or something like hail which causes a melt down, get off!!
 

sophie33

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Well yesterday one of the two sisters who regularly hack B + F out wasn't available, so the other sister kindly took me along. We had a lovely hack including a fair few trots and Flicka was as good as gold. I was told she is normally keen to lead and had psyched myself up for that, but in fact she showed a clear and definite preference for following. Guess she read my mind! She had one little spook but was generally grand. I asked my fellow hacker what Flicks was liked solo and she said she is absolutely fine and even offered to be my foot soldier.
 
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Bodshi

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Sounds great! How nice that you've found someone to give you a bit of support and get you going. There'll be no stopping you soon - happy hacking!
 

Flipo's Mum

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Excellent news - will great if she can come out as a foot soldier with you, I used to have someone come with me all the time. At first I had them walk at Flipo's head, and then eventually after a few weeks she would walk at my leg, and then behind us more or less (which wasn't fun for her I'm afraid lol). Eventually we got to the point where I would do little bits of hacks alone and she would meet me at certain points - or I'd walk on one side of the hedge and she'd be on the other. It helped no end. little baby steps and you get there quicker than you'd think!
 

sophie33

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Well since then I've been out once more with the experienced hacker on Brandy baby-sitting me. It was great despite both horses having a bit of a wobbly at a strange white carriage being pushed up the road (couldn't blame them it was a bizarre sight) and then Flicks having a big wobbly because a man was walking up some concrete steps in flip flops! But I coped, and she didn't do too much just leaped sideways and then threw her head around I think, so it boosted my confidence a bit more. (Just as a diversion I often can't really work out what a horse has done after a spook - it all happens so quickly - is that just me?)
And then this morning my RI was at the yard when my friend and I were riding and she offered to be our foot soldier for a short hack. My mate was okay with it as we had RI with us. Flicks and I took the lead with RI on hand and we even did a little bit without her - we did a small loop with her waiting at the other end.
So I know it is a very little baby step - we've still not been out solo - but the sun is shining and I have a grin on my face!
 
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