Hacking advice when your companion's horse misbehaves?

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I wonder what most people would advise when you are out hacking with someone whose horse misbehaves?
These days, I ride with an RS escort - excellent riders, chosen by me. So no blaming their riding.
But they do sometimes hack over-exuberant horses - that spook, want to go too fast, or start bucking with excitement.
Yesterday my horse was excellent and calm when the other horse bucked off the track in canter - but heading home the other horse got more and more excited and his final bucking and jumping about when he didnt want to come back from trot to walk, alarmed my own horse, who decided to spook away and make for home. I dealt with this (seems I have learned to steer canter!) but I'd like general views on how best to ride when one's companion is having trouble.
I keep my distance from dramatics.
But what should one do if one has to wait? Standing around?
Should one wait calmly doing nothing (which gives horse a chance to turn its attention to the other horse?
Or deliberately ride circles etc. Keeping firm rein contact.
Please dont say that I should not be riding out with staff who cant control their horse. You dont know when you set out that there is going to be a problem - and you can see from OBC's posts that even an excellent rider can be bucked with or run away with.
I need riding advice for the second rider who is there when this happens.
Touch wood - all these spooks and consternations havent caused me to fall.
But it is a shock to the system. Yesterday I even let horse graze while I recovered my breath and my composure. And my rewarding the horse with grazing is surely not good for the horse.
I'd rather prevent the horse from fleeing in the first place.
 

Tina2011

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Not much you can do really except work on keeping your own horse calm.

Make sure to keep a respectable distance from the other horse is the only advice I can give.

Its always best to give yourself plenty of room in case the horse in front props or bucks mid canter, other wise your horse may have to suddenly prop or jump side ways which can result in falling off (I have been there many times:frown: ).
 

Joyscarer

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Dec 30, 2006
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In short, there's no right way as it depends on the horse and their mood on the day.

I'm afraid its one of those times where you need to trust that you can feel what the horse would most benefit from. You've already detailed some very sensible approaches so you need to pick the most likely and try something else if that isn't working or stick with it if that's the one that gives the best results, all be it not perfect. This is where riders intuition comes in and you pick what you deem to be the best approach from all your reading.
 

kathyt1

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Personally, I would not use a horse that is likely to behave like that to escort a hack with. The clients/customers safety and enjoyment is more important and this is not the time to exercise horses of that sort. I know this can happen with any horse, but it is a case of probabilities.
 

carthorse

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Personally, I would not use a horse that is likely to behave like that to escort a hack with. The clients/customers safety and enjoyment is more important and this is not the time to exercise horses of that sort. I know this can happen with any horse, but it is a case of probabilities.

This ^, particularly for a client that's likely to be bothered by the other horse's shennanigans.

If you are on a safe horse then either quietly standing, if the other horse isn't going forwards, or following in walk is, I think, the best policy if you can do it. Stay calm yourself because that makes a huge difference.

As a person who is often on the "problem" horse I know that what's best from my point of view is a horse & rider that stay quietly out of the way & follow at a walk. Stress from the other rider not only communicates to their horse but also winds mine up even more & that's the last thing I need! Accept that the only horse you can control is your own & trust the other rider to deal with theirs. To be fair I'm very very careful about which horses & riders I'll take my problem child out with & I'd never ever use him to escort someone else - my horse, my problem.
 

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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My horse is generally calm with the odd spook, but can react if the other horse reacts. Generally we know what the other horse is spooked by (tractors, lorries, flapping things) so if we get the heads up, friend and I will switch places so that my horse doesn't pay attention to the dancing the other horse is doing behind us. Otherwise I would sit quietly, maybe ask him to do a couple of things, steering clear of the situation as talk calmly to him about how silly the other horse is.
 
Y

Yann

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I think the main thing is to stay calm yourself as much as possible, and do as little as you need to to stay safe and in control. I'm lucky in that I'm often on the horse that's keeping its head whilst all around are losing theirs, so if the circumstances dictate I'll go in front to block off or behind if that makes the other horses happier or whatever will help the situation most.

As for letting a horse graze during an unintended break in proceedings, why not in my book. If they're eating they're more relaxed, and why not let them do something that keeps them in one spot rather than having to stand and possibly nag them to stay still.
 

Tina2011

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Personally, I would not use a horse that is likely to behave like that to escort a hack with. The clients/customers safety and enjoyment is more important and this is not the time to exercise horses of that sort. I know this can happen with any horse, but it is a case of probabilities.

Yes, in your situation Skib, you could ask only to be escorted out on sensible horses. Although the riders are capable it is not really fair to expect you to deal with situations like this.
 

ladywiththebaby

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I agree with Yann. I am happy for a horse to graze in that situation - a grazing horse is clearly not stressed! If it keeps them calm, then that's fine by me! I just make sure that I let them put them their head down, they are not allowed to do it if THEY make the decision!
 

popularfurball

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Jul 18, 2005
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I am happy for MY horse to graze in this circumstance - and this is something I encourage - it means I can get on and off and there is a low risk of her runnin off as she is used to this.

However, I would be asking the RS to agree with this - allowing a horse to eat can be a very difficult habit to break and they may not want novice riders being pulled over the horses head if they start snatching whilst out.
 

Wally

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Personally, I would not use a horse that is likely to behave like that to escort a hack with. The clients/customers safety and enjoyment is more important and this is not the time to exercise horses of that sort. I know this can happen with any horse, but it is a case of probabilities.

I have to agree with this 100%.

You should not have t be worrying about other folk's horses unsettling yours. The ride is at the pace of the weakest rider. The lead horse should be good enough to put one of your paying clients on shoudl their horse become lame or you need to swap for whatever reason.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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Firstly I agree with kathyt1 and carthorse, horses who can't be trusted to behave themselves should not be used as escorts. I was a ride leader in Portugal and we never escorted on a horse who was prone to spooking, bucking, napping or running off. The escort's job is to look after the safety of the other riders - you cannot control tricky situations correctly and safely if your own horse is acting up.

If the RS doesn't want their horses to get into a habit of grazing in these situations I would suggest they start using sensible horses as escorts ;)

To answer the question, if my hacking companion is having trouble then I usually just keep out of the way until they've sorted it out. As carthorse says you deal with your horse and let the other person deal with theirs.
 

Gimp

Gimpy Gimp Gimp
Jan 19, 2005
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"But they do sometimes hack over-exuberant horses - that spook, want to go too fast, or start bucking with excitement"

I would not as a paying client expect the leaders horse to be like this. In the past when I worked on a yard we did sometimes take new horses out on escorted hacks to show them the ropes, however these horses were always put at the back out the way. The lead horse would be an experienced type that like others have said could be swapped with a clients horse if needs be. No horse can be 100% proof! but you try your best to use suitable mounts. Your not their to help train their horses !

ETA: in this circumstance I would do whatever I needed to keep myself and my horse safe. If needs be I would dismount - whatever I felt nessacary at the time.
 

Bodshi

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Apr 23, 2009
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Glad you're ok Skib and what you did must have been ok, as everyone got home safely.

In answer to your question on whether if you had to wait you would sit quietly or walk round with a firm contact, I personally would stand still out of the way and keep calm, but of course that's on my own horse who I know well. I find he is calmer the slower he's going, so full stop is best. I'd also hope that a stationary horse would act as a calming focus point for the other horse if it was having a bit of a panic.

It is a lot easier writing about it than actually experiencing it though!
 

OwnedbyChanter

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Apr 16, 2009
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As you mentioned me I thought I best comment. Firstly I warn anyone coming out with me that Chanter can and will cat leap and buck if you tank off in front of us. Therefore if you can not hold your horse in a steady canter I will not ride with you for my safety. When on Ginger I let them know he is 5 and an ex racer if I need to explain more I will not hack out with them.

I can answer this is two parts first as Carthorse, Joosie and numerous others have said these horses should not be used as escorts, your safety if first and foremost.


Yesterday I rode Ginger out with a friend, Her horse was spooky not dangerous or big spooks at all but a little 'looky' she IMO beat the crap out of that horse the whole ride.:furious: She made the situation worse and kept hitting him in the head with her crop:furious: I was furious she is a very experienced rider, workers on a hunting yard and her horse is amazing. I actually turned Ginger away from the situation and further in to the hack when he had another go a him I calmly walked Ginger on out of the way. when far enough away I asked him to stand and wait but looking away from the 'scene' That is how I deal with it. I have to say I never said anything to the owner as it was not my place to she has had him for 12 years and we clash on a lot on horse care. I on the the other hand never even raised my voice when Ginger spooked on the way home and ride him with out a crop.

She has often said that I am to soft on mu boys but better that than what I saw today.:frown:
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Thank you for the advice.
As for the letting her eat - come to think of it, we were at that moment discussing whether to dismount and walk home.

I realise that people on NR are very concerned about my safety - but I was actually quite upset by the criticism of my RS. They do take exceptional care of me. I never ride in a group. I choose my escort, safe horse, time and day of ride and can even if need be (which it isnt at the moment) ask for my escort not to be allocated a particular horse.

We adults who hack from riding schools are those very same adults who in different circumstances might own our own horse and be facing the same problems on their own.

Hacking is a discipline like any other - it isnt something that horse or rider learn instantly - Hacking is not competitive. But it is learned, just as much as one learns how to ride cross country. And over the last ten years, week in week out in all weathers - this RS taught me how to do it.
Hacking is (I think) a matter of taking personal impromptu decisions - and getting them right at least most of the time. That was how I came to be trusted with my share. I knew what to do when she napped or spooked and belted for home. Which in spite of all RS precautions, were all things that I have experienced over the years.

A RS cannot knowingly expose its students to risk. But the jumps do go up and the hacks may be farther and faster? This however, was not a fast Tuesday hack when we take the edge off the kiddies' ponies after their day of rest.
This was carefully planned as an ultra safe Friday ride for me to meet a new horse with a fun, tubby Thelwell style pony as company. It was the pony who had other ideas.
 

Gimp

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Jan 19, 2005
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Thank you for the advice.
As for the letting her eat - come to think of it, we were at that moment discussing whether to dismount and walk home.

I realise that people on NR are very concerned about my safety - but I was actually quite upset by the criticism of my RS. They do take exceptional care of me. I never ride in a group. I choose my escort, safe horse, time and day of ride and can even if need be (which it isnt at the moment) ask for my escort not to be allocated a particular horse.

We adults who hack from riding schools are those very same adults who in different circumstances might own our own horse and be facing the same problems on their own.

Hacking is a discipline like any other - it isnt something that horse or rider learn instantly - Hacking is not competitive. But it is learned, just as much as one learns how to ride cross country. And over the last ten years, week in week out in all weathers - this RS taught me how to do it.
Hacking is (I think) a matter of taking personal impromptu decisions - and getting them right at least most of the time. That was how I came to be trusted with my share. I knew what to do when she napped or spooked and belted for home. Which in spite of all RS precautions, were all things that I have experienced over the years.

A RS cannot knowingly expose its students to risk. But the jumps do go up and the hacks may be farther and faster? This however, was not a fast Tuesday hack when we take the edge off the kiddies' ponies after their day of rest.
This was carefully planned as an ultra safe Friday ride for me to meet a new horse with a fun, tubby Thelwell style pony as company. It was the pony who had other ideas.

Im sorry Skib but you did state they often choose horses in my mind as quite unsuitable to be hack leaders ( as what I quoted in my reply), that is what I based my answer on from my own experience in this area. If it was a one of a horse played up then thats a different matter, or your were a Confident vastly experienced rider, which if you are having to ask on a forum what would be the best thing to do is somewhat of a concern. I really dont know why you ask advice sometimes as if anyone dares comment on your RS or instructor you take great offence.
 

Cortrasna

Grumpy old nag
Aug 5, 2009
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Your description of events inevitably invites criticism of both the RS and the RI IMO. We cannot be expected to make fair comment and opinion on dealing with the issues without referring to the decisions made by both your RS and your RI.

Did you ask your obviously much respected RI's opinion on how best to deal with this sort of situation? I would be very interested to hear what they would say to you and what actions they would feel were necessary to ensure your safety when this sort of thing happens out hacking.
 

Ale

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Feb 8, 2012
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I'd try and keep my horse focused on me. If the other horse was bucking and tanking off for example I would probably ask my horse to stop while the other person regained control. If this took some time I would try to keep my horse occupied and relaxed so it didn't think about joining in, so yes things like circling if it started to get worked up, but if it was content to just stand I would as maybe you moving round would make the other horse even more worked up. Depends on the situation I guess
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I have looked at my post. I wrote that I rode with an RS escort. No word of my RI. I had my lessons at a different yard entirely.

I asked what other people did because there is always this dilemma - One asks on NR to widen one's field of reference surely. Last time.
 
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