Hacking advice needed

orbvalley

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Jan 15, 2008
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I've been trying to get back into hacking Cocaïne since work commitments kept me from doing it for a few weeks. Before I start - its never been my strong point:(
So I've always been hacking with a mix of on foot and in saddle, mixing it up to get her through the difficult spots as well as for no good reason. But I hit an issue this week that I can't seem to get around -

When I jump off and walk along in hand then get back on she won't move forward, when I insist she starts spinning and reversing:( I initially thought getting off walking a bit then jumping back on would solve the issue and she'd forget about it. Unfortunately its turning into a very persistent habit:(
Yesterday I got so fed up and angry (with myself) - I'd tried all my aids, lateral, rein, voice, growling, tap of the crop , the whole of my toolbox basically but she just wouldn't go forwards. In exasperation I dropped the reins and sat there trying to think of a solution. We sat like that for some time, I sighed , she sighed, I thought about selling her:eek::oops:, I picked up the reins again and tried the gentle nonchalant walk on signals, nothing:mad:. I then thought well its another "do or die" moment and cropped her on the shoulders repeatedly until we finally got off in the right direction:( I wasn't sure if she just explode upwards in the air, fortunately not.

The problem I 'm left with is I don't want to have to do this again, I'm not into whipping a horse into submission, I want us to be team:oops::rolleyes: but I don't know how to get over this next time.

For added info I do regularly give her random bits of carrot on route from the saddle, we mostly have to hack alone as I'm on a private mostly retired yard, my hacking buddies are 1) current lame and pregnant horse 2) instructor grounded with hand injury for 3 months. In company she hacks better but I'm not going to be able to do that for a good while yet. By the way she's a 4 and a half year old Connemara

Please any help or inspiration welcome..................
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I have hacked for years with an escort and also shared and hacked solo. This answer is based mostly on the mare I shared but remember I was also trained or trained myself watching Mark Rashid. His rule is not to feed horses or allow them to feed when tacked up, even when being led in a head collar. It makes one feel cruel but it is my rule. Yesterday I caught a horse than can (apparently) only be caught using feed or a treat. Horses dont need treets. They need to do what you want.
That leaves your big question whether to use authority (whip leg etc) or just wait patiently. The mare I hacked did nap. You dont need to choose just one response. Her owner a RI used loud voice commands plus whip and enormous authority to make the horse move on. I would normally just sit and wait.
You got the horse to do as you wanted by exerting a bit of authority and horses learn. The fact that you were effective once is likely to mean the horse will remember.
But my experience is that it is a myth that you teach a horse to hack without napping and that the problem just disappears. Each ride is a separate conversation. If you allow your hack horse to have its own way over something that seems trivial, it will surely want it again the next time. I got into real trouble with the mare eating. And it is useless going round blaming yourself each time a habit develops. You just have to set about solving it.
That is exactly what you did. O you did brilliantly. I thought to myself there goes a real good hacker! Congratulations!
Now the partnership question. I was a partner with Maisie. I learned to ride on her and we taught each other. But she was a right besom and would throw me and others off right to the end.
With my share who was a really difficult horse, I had more know-how and I was the boss. Once you have it sorted out that you are the decision taker, things may really happen inside your brain that you have a partner. My name was coupled with certain horses because they did as I wanted, both ridden and on the ground - but like yourself working it out and trying different stuff on hacks - I had to work it out. And most horses, once they know you have worked it out, will concede and give you many happy hacks.
But each hack is none the less a new event - a new step in your relationship.
Humans who are good riders have to work it out. I said to OH yesterday after demonstrating the catching technique - You dont know it is going to work. All you know is that you have a higher level of education than the horse. In my case I remind myself that the horse does not have a degree and my only ressource is my brain. But you put your finger on it when you describe losing your temper.
I have done that too - sometimes one's emotion conveys something to the horse. Like screaming loudly if the horse gets to bite you. Like you I made the share mare move on one day when I got cross and traffic was waiting.
And no one can promise you that you wont ever get cross again, or need to get cross. Only I can post here that I recognise all you wrote and think that what you did was totally right not just for you but for the horse and your relationship with it.
 
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tiamaria lady

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Jul 2, 2010
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Hi orbvalley ,
I haven't been no here in quiet a while but reading your post I can relate to the issue. it really takes the enjoyment out of a hack!
As far as I can remember used to sit there and wait....and if she turned to nap I used to make her back up....basically I always made sure that we were going the direction wanted to no matter what way she was turned! do this everytime she naps and be patient and persistent . not here thing u used to do when she planted was niggle! bring a schooling whip and when she plants very gently but firmly nag with your leg and tip her bottom persistently until she takes even 1 step forward and then stop immediately to reward . make sure you stop immediately tho and when she plants again just start over!
Be very patient , it will pay off.
I hope this made sense.but it's just what worked for me. xx
 
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tiamaria lady

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Some sentences up there have been taking over by auto correct I meant "another thing I used to do " not u used to do. x
 

KP nut

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I struggle with the 'partnership' issue as well. Having seen and read Mark Rashid, his ideal of a soft, willing partner is my dream too. But I think that it is also essential that a horse submits to your will. I have struggled with that apparent contradiction for years. But essentially I think it comes down to the fact that horses are born followers, but they need a leader they trust to follow. In the absence of strong leadership the horse feels obliged to make its own decisions and choose its own speed, direction and destination. And once a horse takes over the decision making then life becomes more stressful for him and far more unsafe for both of you. . If Cocaine was not afraid and was just choosing to ignore you, then I think upping the pressure is justified. Sometimes horses test us and we need to show we are strong enough so they can feel confident in ceding control to us. Which they would generally prefer to do anyway.

I agree with @Skib about feeding. 2 people on the yard recently spent over an hour failing to catch a horse with treats, feed-bucket etc. They asked for my help and raised an eyebrow when I refused to take any treats with me. Buck Brannaman says treating horses to make them behave in certain ways makes them 'contemptuous'. Not sure that I agree with such a strong statement, but I don't think it helps and it is totally unnecessary for partnership building or training imo. I treat Max because I enjoy it. I never treat Oscar because he needs to be put in his place far more firmly and consistently than Max does and treating him does seem to worsen his manners. I caught the horse within 5-10 minutes very calmly and I am sure that experience did more to bolster my leadership credentials in her eyes than any treats could have done.
 

KP nut

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ETA I took Max hacking the other day and asked him to walk into a wood. He napped. I kicked him forward quite firmly. He walked in and survived. His napping was totally justified - he's a baby - but I figured that the sooner he learnt he could trust me not to get us both into trouble the better. So I just firmly 'said' this is fine, get on with it. A few years ago I'd have done the circling/waiting/eating sandwiches/leading past thing but over time I am moving more towards the need to be effective and making things happen when I am educating youngsters. But I don't know if I was right then or right now! Or neither time!! It's all just trial and error and figuring things out. The main thing is to keep thinking about what you are doing and being willing to question what you do and change it as needed.
 

orbvalley

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Oooh! Thank you so much for all the encouragement that I'm mostly doing ok!!:D That really does makes me feel better about the way I dealt with her and definitely less guilty.

I'll take the advice and stop giving her treats whilst I'm on board. She's probably outgrown the reasoning behind it now I anyway.

One thing I've been puzzling over is what type of hack to do next time - I was thinking of making it EXTRA short (as in 10mins at thats the only short route without turning back) in the hope that we could have a hack without any major issues. I was thinking this would be important for her? Or is this "human thinking" that she won't be concerning herself over:confused:?
 

newforest

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It took me 18months for mine to walk off the yard, so the fact yours goes off I think your doing fine.
Firstly I would ditch the random treats. If you must give something, offer when back and the tack is off.

I don't see any issues with getting off to lead if the rider, or the horse lacks confidence.
If my boot falls off, I need to get off (find it), sort it, get back on. I have a horse who stands.
Getting off or pushing on is a choice a rider makes based on that situation with their horse. I don't believe in right or wrong, I do believe in getting on with it. Whatever you choose to do, don't overthink it.
If your hack is ten minutes, don't spend another half an hour analysing it :)

Mine will try and nap on one route she isn't that confident with. Going backwards is her usual signal, she has the same one for don't really want to, though it's usually confidence.
We have about five sticky spots I might need to get my point across about carrying on. I have been known to get off before she reaches the spot. It hasn't taught her to nap there, she was before and sometimes she carries on herself, sometimes not. So my getting off just meant we didn't stop that ride.
 
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Skib

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Would agree about long reining - ours are taught to hack solo by long reining but one needs a foot soldier too - two people to teach that safely. Possibly not in Shetland. But even on our bridle paths -
 

Gimp

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Ive never had a foot soldier long reining? depends on how confident you are long reining really. The whole point is not having anyone with the horse.
 

newforest

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I used to longrein mine on her own. I didn't have anyone who wanted to walk three miles on a regular basis.
That said I struggled with the hills she marched up :)
 
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Gimp

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as side point though, just because folk may live somewhere different, or possibly more rural/quieter different or not it doesn't necessarily mean they may have substandard safety rules. What you can do with more experience whether that is human or animal scenerio, is however a different kettle of fish. First and foremost though it comes down to common sense in the initial planning stages.
 

Skib

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The way it was done on our yard was to have the new or young horse long reined with some one walking by his head. The escort would drop further and further back over successive days until they were beside the person long reining. That taught new horses to hack solo. I can only report the methods I was taught.
 

Gimp

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That in itself is or course a good method, however not the only method. I wasn't belittling your comment just sometimes there is more than one way of doing things.
 
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newforest

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If you spend your life following a manual you never learn to think for yourself.
There is always more than one way of doing things, it's what works for the horse being my starting point.

Actually the bhs suggests that do not hack alone. So in theory you actually only need to teach a horse to follow another and eventually lead. :)
 

Gimp

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long reining out and about beyond the arena is so underrated and overlooked. Putting that time in doing it, often produces for the future such a forward thinking horse that is often unflappable and confident in situations. When I take on any new horse, whether its broken in or not.. Thats the first thing I do, strip back to basics and long rein. You can find out so much about a horse from it to.
 

Jessey

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I will feed a horse under saddle, when you ride distance you have to or they go too long without something in the stomach which can cause ulcers so it becomes normal to do so. I won't use food as a bribe to get the behaviour I want, ie when they won't move forward I wouldnt use food to tempt them forward but I will use it to create a positive point ie I'll let them stop to graze on route so that going out has a positive destination :) and my horses do not snatch at grass, they only graze when told they can because that is what they are taught the rules are, under saddle or being led they are taught to do what they are asked only, they can ask if they want to do something (jess will tip her nose in a direction she'd like to go or offer a canter with body language but not do it before I approve/dissaprove her request) this leader/subordinate relationship doesn't mean we don't work together as partners, just that this partnership has 1 with ultimate decision making authority.
Normally with nappers like @tiamaria lady I take the tact of asking until they go then remove the pressure and they are absolutely not permitted to move the way they want, only the way you want and if they are going forwards, backwards or sideways to achieve that doesn't bother me I just want movement in the direction of my choosing. And if I'm being ignored and there is no specific horse eating monster right there thats scaring them I will up the pressure used to unstick their feet if needs be.
 

orbvalley

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Unfortunately I don't know how to long rein and my RI doesn't use nor consequently teach the method :( But I do definitely see the benefits of it teaching the horse to be in front. This is cocaines problem, she prefers me to be on foot in front:rolleyes:. However she was backed "outside" by my RI and will hack out with her no probs so she obviously see's my weakness and takes advantage of it!! Thats the problem of having n intelligent horse!! They pick up on EVERYTHING!!

PS: I do believe that every horse has its intelligence but she is definitely more intelligent than any other Iv'e ridden:eek::D
 

KP nut

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I learnt how to do it via trial and error. I was not taught. There are Youtube tutorials. Start in an arena in straight lines learning start and stop. Then add in some turns. Then changes of rein, then figure 8s etc. Then brave the big wide world! Make sure she is totally fine with the lines first as you are bound to get into a muddle a few times and she needs to just stand there and let you sort your lines out again, rather than freak out and take off!
 
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