In partnership with Wintec Saddles

With our Hack 1000 Miles challenge having just relaunched, many of you will be keen to get out and start clocking up the miles with your horse. Whilst it might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about hacking, a cross-country course is actually a great option if you’re nervous, looking for safe ground or wanting to add some variety to your horse’s hacks in a new environment or with some obstacles.

Plenty of cross-country courses now cater for green, young or inexperienced horses with mini fences, but you don’t have to gallop or go near any jumps to enjoy yourself.

Five reasons to hack on a cross-country course:

1. A safe open space

Taking your horse to a cross-country course is a great way to introduce open spaces if you’re not sure how they’ll react. These are secured with fences and gates which will give you peace of mind.

2. Picking up speed

Many venues carefully manage their cross-country courses to ensure the ground is safe to be ridden on, which can mean it’s a good place to do faster work. Some courses also have all-weather gallop tracks which you could make use of.

Being in a secure, enclosed space can alleviate any nerves you have about asking your horse to step up into canter or gallop when on bridleways, and as many are in fields, you don’t have to worry about any pheasants flying out of the hedges as you pass by!

Remember to always take care when working at speed and judge whether the ground conditions mean it’s appropriate to do faster work safely.

3. Get off the roads

Whilst roadwork has its benefits, not many riders are keen to use them for hours on end. If you’re lacking bridleways or other off-road routes to ride on, a cross-country course could be the ticket.

Many are open everyday in the summer and autumn – excluding during or in the run up to events – meaning you’re not limited to specific dates like in fun rides.

4. Improve proprioception

Plenty of cross-country courses cater for all abilities of horse and rider, starting from mini fences as small as 30cm – so you don’t have to jump to make use of the facilities.

You can navigate plenty of obstacles from walk or trot, including small logs, ditches or banks. These are great for building your horse’s confidence, proprioception and rideability.

5. Introduce water

Water can be a tricky beast for horses to conquer, but you can rest assured that the water complexes at cross-country courses are properly maintained, so it’s safe to coax a timid equine in for a paddle. It’s great for building confidence in any horses who skirt around puddles when hacking rather than walking through.

This content is brought to you in partnership with Wintec Saddles, durable, comfortable, easy-care, weather-proof saddles for everyone.

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