Hacking Spooky or Young Horses

by Jenny Richardson, BHSAI

In our latest blog, our head equestrian trainer Jenny Richardson takes a look at hacking a spooky or inexperienced horse safely; perfect timing, as we all enjoy the beautiful summer weather in the countryside!

Jenny says: “The warmer weather and longer evenings in Ireland and the UK have inspired many equestrian enthusiasts get out hacking and enjoying the beautiful countryside! However in order to enjoy hacking to the full, it is important that we are up to speed with our riding and road safety knowledge. This will ensure we are as safe and confident as possible whilst riding out this summer. If you have a young horse or a particularly spooky horse, hacking can sometimes be daunting, but you don’t want to miss out whilst all of your friends are getting to enjoy summer hacking! Let’s take a look at things we, as riders, can do to help our equines feel more confident.

Firstly it is important to remember that our horses are flight animals and this means that their natural response when afraid is to run away! This can be a risky business when out on the road and there are cars, vans on the road and on bridle paths sometimes cyclists and walkers to take into consideration. So what do you do? Well it’s your job to convince your horse that there is no need to be afraid.

The first step to hacking comfortably and confidently both on the road and on bridlepaths is to accustom your horse to different sights and sounds that they might meet out hacking.

Why not ask a friend or family member with a bike, a dog, young children or even a motorbike to visit your yard? You could lead your horse around or ride in the school. In a similar vein, we all know horses can be spooky with the most commonplace of things, so if you have a particularly spooky horse you’re concerned about hacking, why not try placing objects such as open umbrellas, footballs, and flapping bags and so on in the arena and spend time getting your horse accustomed to them? You may need to enlist the help of a more experienced horse to give yours confidence in going past the ‘deadly’ flapping bag!

Once your horse has become accustomed to the sights and sounds he may come across whilst on a hack, think about how you are influencing him from the saddle. Staying calm and confident will go a long way, as your horse will look to you for reassurance if he is worried. Take calming breaths, and ride out with a confident friend or instructor on a safe and sensible horse. If you feel your nerves getting the better of you, you could always ask an experienced rider to take your horse out for his first few hacks, so your emotions don’t add to the anxiety.

Remember in the early stages of acclimatising your horse, it it sensible to only undertake short hacks and avoid peak times for traffic. Finally and importantly – always take a mobile phone with you! Good luck everyone and enjoy the summertime!”

Click Here to view our latest equestrian deals on holidays that incorporate glorious hacks around the Castle Leslie Estate.

We are big fans of the sport of eventing, and therefore would encourage our horsey friends to visit the site www.eventingnation.com – check out their range of horsey news stories.