Think you can’t school your horse without an arena? Here’s endurance rider Beccy Broughton-Booker to explain how you can educate your horse while out hacking.
Try lateral work
Whenever you’re riding along a quiet country lane or up a hill, you can continue your horse’s schooling and further education regardless of whether you’re aiming for a dressage test or simply want him to be more responsive to your aids.
“While out hacking, you can try adding some simple lateral movements along a bridleway as they tend to be straight and quiet, making them an ideal spot for leg yielding or shoulder-in,” says Beccy.
Hacking is also a good time to introduce these exercises to a younger horse as he’s more likely to be relaxed and open to new ideas outside of the arena and will therefore be more receptive to your leg aids.
Improve his bend
Any paths that wind in and out of trees are a useful way to teach your horse to bend around your leg.
For the more advanced horse, they’re a perfect way to introduce counter-canter.
Build your horse’s confidence
While hacking comes with more potential hazards than working in an arena, this can be a positive in terms of a horse’s education.
“In hacking, we’ll come across gates, rivers, traffic, trains and sometimes a dreaded field of pigs!” says Beccy.
“But as long as you stay calm and confident, your horse will follow suit. If you’re tackling a new route, it’s best to hack alongside a schoolmaster to build your horse’s self-confidence, especially if you’re nervous.”
In a nutshell, hacking allows you to not only build your horse’s fitness, but increase the assurance and trust you both have in each other as a partnership.