Hacking not only offers breath-taking views on horseback, it’s also a great way to up your horse’s fitness levels and the best bit is, it doesn't have to be complicated! Here we show you how to make your hacks work hard for you.
Stretch and warm up
First things first, give your horse time to warm up, allowing him to stretch in walk before asking for more strenuous work. Also consider you and your horse’s fitness when you’re hacking making sure you don’t work your horse too hard to avoid any unnecessary injuries. Hacking has some amazing benefits for you and your horse. It offers an alternative to schooling in the arena, and is great for building fitness.
Boost his fitness
Think of your hack as a form of interval training where you can ask for a period of harder work for three or four minutes, then let him rest for a few minutes before asking for a period of harder work again. Great for improving fitness and to make sure you make the most of your hacking time. Regular changes of pace will also help keep your horse’s attention.
Use the land
Make the most of any hills out on your hack; they’re great at helping to build your horse’s strength and power. Having a good trot up a hill or if it’s safe a canter on the verge will add expression and punch to his paces as he has to use himself more.
Remember to work into your hack a cool down period, walking the last mile home on a loose rein is a great way to end your hack as well as allowing your horse time to stretch, relax and cool off. When you’re back at the yard and untacked, treat your horse to a refreshing wash down. This will help cool him down and remove any sweaty areas that may cause him irritation if left. After this your horse can enjoy the rest of his day stretching his legs and eating grass out in his field with his other horsey friends.
We want you to be safe as you get the most from your hacks so follow these three quick tips:
1. Be seen and protected
Remember your high-vis whether it’s sunny or not this is an essential piece of kit. Also, don’t forget to apply plenty of sun cream to avoid burning in the sun, and apply fly repellent to you and your horse to keep nasty flying bugs at bay if you're hacking in summer.
2. Make some final checks
Checking your tack should be part of your regular routine, but it’s always worth giving it a good look over before hacking out. Check all the stitching on your bridle, stirrup leathers and girth straps is in good order and that the leather isn’t cracked.
3. Stay safe
Always tell someone where you’re going and give an approximate time you’ll be back so people know where you are and when you’re due back. Try to stick to this and if you’re running late, let someone else know.