Hacking advice!

Drummers mum

I love my pony!
Feb 1, 2004
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I took Drummer out on my own today for the first time in aaaaaages! (only been alone a couple of times anyway!) We went on a couple of roads, round an estate and down a track, all in all about 45 mins!

I just need some advice on how to handle him as he gets quite spooky and excited!

The spooking isn't too bad, he's just very tense and looks hard at things and if he really thinks something is going to eat him, I get off and lead him past.

My biggest problem is his giraffe impression! We are OKish in walk, but in trot his head comes up and he runs! I really struggle to get him to listen to me. He doesn't just do this when we are alone.

Any help/advice much appreciated! :rolleyes:

Painting Horses

New Member
Dec 29, 2004
Gerber California
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walk him around there

I had a horse kind of similare tot hose issues except once we troted it would go into canter then not stopping till my hands where almost on her bit! :eek: however what i did was when i had time, I would take my mare out there and just lunge her out there w/t/c and trot along a few trails with her. I did this about 3 times and she has never givein me trouble sence then. My trainer told me that mayeb all she needed was to see that i felt it was safe out there and she felt if i was willing to do it then she could do ti with nothing to worry about :D i felt special maybe it can work for you?


New Member
Jan 5, 2005
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I really don't mean to be harsh but I wouldn't get off drummer if he spooks etc, by doing this once his confidence has grown he could well take the pee out of you and expect you to get off. Have you checked that you're keeping your hands soft and not tensing yourself? I sometimes find that I'm the one causing a horse to tense up on hacks, ie when I'm cold is a prime example. If he's not listening to you try and make him really walk out and walking into the bridle. My mums horse is forever looking in the air and tripping as he's soooooooooooo lazy but you wake him up a bit (very hard task some days) and he's fine. When you think you see something he might spook at just squeeze lightly as your approaching it and really encourage him to walk on, if he feels that your telling him everythings ok he should calm down.


Active Member
Jul 17, 2004
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Fantastic that you've started hacking out by yourself, glad you're enjoying it.

The only thing that I can think of is that if he is spooky in walk, I wouldn't try trotting because then you are effectively telling him that there is something to be scared of and run away from. Instead, keep in walk until he manages to relax on the roads, and then once he's calm try trotting. The more you take him out by himself, the better he'll get I'm sure.

Good luck with it - I'm sure that you have a good enough relationship with him that he'll start listening to you soon. Just remember that going out by himself is very scary for him, and that he needs to remember that you're not going to ask him to go towards any truly horse-eating monsters. From what you've said before, the trust is there...he just needs to remember that before he panics!


Active Member
Feb 12, 2004
ziz does this a bit, her trot's always very excited when we're out. I tried slowing the rise but it didn't work, instead I push her on instead of slowing her down and make sure I'm not hanging on the reins. She seems to think oh you're not pulling against me, ok I'll stop. She slows down, nice manageable trot. We go to walk, walk a bit and then trot on again, much more controlled. I did try pointing her at a hill to try and slow the trot down, we'd get to the bottom of it and she'd gallop up it instead !!

If she's in a nervous mood well nervous for her and I can feel myself tensing up a bit, I'm a bit of a scaredy cat out of the school, I sing - it regulates my breathing and seems to calm her. we must be made for each other if she can tolerate my singing. If she's in a really jumpy mood we'll just go for a walk, everything's nice and calm and mum's in control of the pace. The next hack's invariably calmer

Drummers mum

I love my pony!
Feb 1, 2004
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Fantastic that you've started hacking out by yourself, glad you're enjoying it.
Thanks, its a big step for us but we have to do it or we will be stuck riding round the same orchard forever!

I really don't mean to be harsh but I wouldn't get off drummer if he spooks etc,
I'd rather do that than have an accident though! He is usually ok and I can ride him past but on Sunday he froze and wouldn't move and I felt him tense like he was going to whirl and bolt so I got off, it was something he could see in the distance! (actually quite funny, some cyclists going along an old railway!!)

Anyway thanks for all your advice everyone, I will keep you posted as to how I get on! :D


Jun 3, 2002
Auckland, New Zealand
I was reading a book on western training techniques just the other day. It was just common sense stuff really, but have you tried searching out some desensitisation tricks? Even ground work in the paddock, exposing him to things gradually ie tarpaulin etc etc. It's not easy to deal with when you have things like cyclists appearing out of the blue, so perhaps the best thing is to just keep at it.
I still can't get over my fear of trucks, the worst Cheeky will do is do a half rear and spin several times. I like him when he is feeling fresh and spooky, as I just laugh at him, and laughing relaxes me.

Now I have Meadow too, who is a baby in the paddock when schooling but bombproof with trucks out hacking! I still tense and he just goes "wha?"

Try and relax and or laugh to relax. Force it if you have to. Talk him past it... stay soft with your contact, sit yourself down in the centre so you are ready for him to go in any direction. It's all I can really suggest :)


New Member
May 8, 2002
Well done on the hacking out. If he plants and won't move, just let him stand there, until he relaxes, don't force him to go forward else he probably will spin and go the other way. Once he is relaxed with the scary thing, then you can ask him for a step forwards. If he takes it, then give him a stroke and tell him he's a good boy, if he doesn't go forwards, take him back to the place he stopped and wait again til he is relaxed. I appreciate that this can take time though and its not always safe to do so. So I'd try taking him places that are as safe as possible at first. Cochises' ideas about desensitisation are good too, if its always the same things he spooks at.

Have you also tried going out with a less spooky horse that he will gain some confidence from?.

The key really is to make sure you are relaxed - have you been in the situation where you can see something he might spook at, and before you get to it, you are worrying about how to get past it? You are telling him that you are scared therefore he needs to be very scared! So if you do spot something, then ride positively towards it, and sing, laugh, talk, anything to make you communicate that the thing is really nothing to be worried about.

good luck - it may take time but you'll get there!


Active Member
Apr 16, 2004
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Congrats on getting out and about alone :D

Getting off and leading him past very scary things I would say is the right thing to do, especially in the early stages of flying solo. Much better calmly get off and lead past than kick-up a fuss and have a big argument- not good for the confidence of either of you.

You just have to make sure you stay relaxed and calm. Talk to him- constantly. Just gibber about how your day was, how that scary thing over there really is just a bush etc. Because you won't be changing your tone or tensing up he might go 'ah look at the scary thing over there mum!.... wait a minute your not reacting, can't be that scary'.

Also you might feel daft but singing really helps, the same as above but keeps you breathing properly! Sometimes we will tense up and stop breathing without even realising it. Of course you might get some funny looks going along talking/singing to your horse ;)

I know what it's like with the giraffe thing, completely on their toes and head in the air. Raising your hands up would give you more control, just make sure you keep your contact soft, your hands and arms soft and don't tense up against him.

You could try schooling movements to keep his mind occupied on other things too.

I'm sure once his confidence gets up he'll give up the giraffe impression :D Good Luck!


Ex Member
Dec 30, 2000
A friend of mine has started having lessons with a brilliant instructor. Her horse is an ex-eventer and her last rider really wound the ned up, hence giraffe impressions and on-the-toes constantly.

Her new instructor has her scratch her mare's withers until neddy settles and drops her head, before beginning work. If neddy gets worked up, she scratches her withers again. She's effectively training her horse to lower her head and relax whenever she scratches her withers.

Might be worth trying with Drummer - it's certainly working for her! :) Good luck, and congratulations on hacking out alone! :)


Sexy Dressage Pony
May 7, 2003
On my horses back...
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I agree with Martini55. Singing is a brilliant idea but please make sure no-one catches you. We are not all Britney Spears :p

I used this bit of advise a couple of weeks ago when Captain and I went out alone. He was a little nervous and then 3 birds came flying up out of the dyke. :eek: What I would of done for prewarning of this spooky moment. He jumped sideways and started to canter in farmers field. :cool: Nothing in the field thankfully. So I carried on until I decided to turn back. Starting to sing. "We're all going on a Summer Holiday". :cool: Well it was slinging it down with sleet and couldn't think of what telse to sing. Still got home safely and no-one caught me singing. ;)

Drummers mum

I love my pony!
Feb 1, 2004
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He doesn't get that many carrots! :eek: Perhaps a few less might help, normaly he needs all the go I can get, lol! :D

I think I better practice my singing in the shower before I try it out, otherwise I might set all the local dogs off howling, lol! :p Chatting might be best at first, most of my friends would probably tell you I should have no problem with that! :eek:

Showjumper, I like that idea. Its kind of like how I do clicker training, mmmmmmmmmm you have given me food for thought! :)

Hey, and thanks everyone, instead of worrying, you have given me the itch to get back out there and do it again, two weeks Easter hols to do it in too!


Well-Known Member
Jul 16, 2003
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angel did a Camel impression (head up and we hurtle along at breakneck speed ...) the other day :rolleyes: she'd been stabled for 5 days though, so you cant really blame her.

cant really advise on the spookiness when hacking alone (angel doesnt do that at all, only solo-hacking issues we have evolve around her not wanting to leave the yard and her trying to spin round and go home ..), but maybe practice away from traffic at first for safety reasons.

well done for taking him out though :)



Jan 3, 2003
Just thought I'd check drummer's mum - mine were getting a good number a day as I used them as an small winter feed (on top of their hay) with their supplements on (don't use supplements anymore as where they are now is bursting with minerals etc and they have never looked so well)


& Sharman :)
Jun 28, 2004
hes probably just not used to going on his own yet - happy did this when i first started going out on her own

give him time and he will get used to it

ps - i always get off if happys spooky (when shes genuine) because they are so much more confident when you lead them past something and helps a lot with the hacking nerves :)
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