If you lack confidence hacking your horse out on the roads and bridleways, follow our 12 tips below to give you that extra boost.
Improve your confidence riding
- Walk your ride on foot first
If you fancy riding a new route with your horse, try walking it on foot first. This way you can check where any gates, obstacles and hazards are, and plan how you’ll manage them safely and calmly
- Calm your horse down
If your horse has excess energy, try lungeing him for a few minutes before you hack out.
- Hack in the correct gear
Riding in the correct gear when hacking your horse will give you confidence and help protect you in the event of a mishap. Always ride in a riding hat, high-viz gear, a back protector and/or an air jacket. For extra security, attach dog tags or special ID tags with your phone number to your horse’s saddle and bridle in case you part company.
- Get your horse kitted out
Having certain tack on your horse, such as a martingale or neck strap, can help to make you feel more secure in the saddle. Alternatively, you can invest in an RS-tor. This is a simple strap that attaches to your saddle’s stirrup bars. It’s held in your hand, like a whip, and offers extra security in the event of a spook.
- Shorten your stirrups
Upping your stirrups a hole might help you to feel a little more secure in the saddle when hacking your horse.
- Let people know where you are
Whenever you head out for a hack with your horse, always tell someone where you’re going and give an estimated time of return. If something happens, you can be confident they’ll come looking for you. Just remember to let that person know if you’re running late so they don’t worry
- There’s an app for horse riders
For added peace of mind when hacking your horse, install an app on your phone, such as the Horse Rider SOS. This app monitors your movements as you ride and, in the event of a fall, the app will enter alert mode and kick off a rescue process.
- Hack out on a more reliable horse
If your horse is spooky and it’s knocking your confidence, it may be a good idea to hack out on a more reliable horse, as one who misbehaves will only make you feel nervous. Your horse will pick up on your fears, so a few hacks on a schoolmaster will help you relax, which will result in your own horse being calmer.
- Hack out in a group
Once you’re back on your own horse, try to hack out with more confident horses as this will help him stay calm and be less spooky.
- Ride side by side
When riding your horse in a group, you can ride side by side on suitable roads, with the more confident horse on the outside. As your horse gains in confidence, you can start to ride in single file with the other horse in front of you. Your horse’s natural herd instincts will make him feel braver if he’s following another horse
- Turn your horse out near traffic
If you have a secure field next to a road, another good tip is to turn your horse out in it as often as possible to get him used to the sound of traffic.
- Ride shoulder-in with your horse
If your horse spooks, riding shoulder-in will engage his brain, divert his attention and, as a result, help you prevent the spook happening