In partnership with Equisafety
A well-mannered horse is the dream for every rider, but even with the most compliant equine it is all too easy to give them an inch and find that they have taken a mile. It doesn’t take much, but bad manners can quickly become a horrible habit if they aren’t addressed swiftly and this can make for less than fun hacks, all of which is the last thing you want when you’re hacking out or taking part in the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge.
“There are generally two extremes when it comes to bad manners: horses who won’t go and horses who go too much,” explains horsemanship expert Jason Webb. “You get the nappier types who spend a lot of time looking at things, who aren’t really off your leg and who try to find excuses to slow down, and then you have the horses who are excitable in general or just busy-minded. Neither are fun when you’re heading out for a leisurely hack.”
Riding a hot horse
It can be a slippery slope from going to ride your horse forwards to them becoming hot. It only takes letting them rush home a few times before this can turn into a habit.
“Holding on to a hot horse exacerbates the hotness, but you can’t let them go either, so it’s about compromise,” says Jason. “If you’re on a hot horse you have to embrace that to a certain extent. With these types of horses, get in time with them and jog along. It doesn’t make for a comfortable ride, but it’s a compromise to galloping home.”
In an ideal world we would all have a variety of circular hacking routes, but this isn’t always the case and it can mean that a rider has to turn around and head back the way they have already ridden to reach home.
“If you have to turn around on yourself to get home, be conscious that your horse doesn’t ‘fall’ home,” says Jason. “They may try to drop their shoulder and turn, which can quickly become spinning. If possible, try to ride around something, such as a tree or a sign. This stops the horse from dropping their shoulder to hopefully nip spinning in the bud.”
Don’t let your world become too small
As with anything, you need to do your best to set yourself and your horse up for success.
“You want to have your horse settled and calm before putting them in challenging situations,” says Jason. “So think about the bigger picture — what time of day are you hacking, where are you going and who are you with? What is the weather like, as well as the ground conditions?”
If you feel like you’re struggling and don’t want to deal with the problem, it could be time to seek some help from a friend, instructor, or horse trainer.
“If you hide from experiences then your world gets smaller and smaller; you do less and less, and it can make it even harder to get your horse back out,” says Jason. “Riding a horse with poor manners can knock your confidence and then their confidence too, which is a lose-lose scenario. You don’t have to challenge yourself, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re hiding.”
Meet the expert: Jason Webb is a UK-based Australian horse trainer. He helps riders all around the world with solving behavioural and ridden issues with their horses. Visit yourhorsemanship.com
This content is brought to you in partnership with Equisafety, high viz clothing for horses and riders.