There’s so much more to riding out than the chance to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Sometimes unfairly dismissed as a ‘soft option', hacking is in fact a vital part of any horse’s routine and an unbeatable way to enhance his well being.
It’s great for getting horses fit
As well as becoming more forward-going and forward-thinking, regular hacks can help to make your horse fitter and stronger. For example, walking him slowly up and down hills builds strong muscle, develops balance and conditions the heart. Yes some horses might get a little excited about being out in the open at first, but hill work will soon get him working…and puffing! It can help to up a horse’s heart-rate, really boosting his fitness without the wear and tear from too much galloping.
It adds variety to training
Riding endless circles around an arena is enough to make your horse switch off to anything you ask of him - yes your horse’s training is important, especially if you want to compete, but him feeling happy and positive about his work when he goes to do it is vital and this is where hacking comes in. Hacking offers your horse a break from the norm.
It's good for a horse's mind
It’s good for his mental well-being because it keeps him mentally fresh. Plus, by exposing your horse to different stimulation when you hack out he’ll quickly get used to more things - in human terms, it’ll make him more streetwise!
Hacking out can build confidence
Some horses naturally march out in front on a hack, while others are happier to duck behind. But if your horse is more of a follower than a leader, it will do him good to take the lead every now and then - it'll build his confidence and help him to learn with common with hacking hazards. Giving him lots of encouragement and praise for stepping out in front will give him a real boost. The same goes if your horse is a natural leader – time spent at the back of the ride won’t do him any harm!