Hacking isn’t just great because you get to explore the countryside in the saddle (of course that’s brilliant) the activity itself comes packed with benefits for you and your horse. Here we reveal what you can gain from a simple hack in the great outdoors.
Being exposed to nature is good for your health
A 2003 study* investigated whether there’s a benefit in being active whilst being directly exposed to nature - they called this ‘green exercise’.
The evidence from this research indicated that being exposed to nature has a positive impact on our health, can help improve stress levels and even help to protect us from future stress. This means that by simply hacking in the great outdoors, you’re positively impacting your health.
Riding can stimulate positive feelings (and rid you of negative ones!)
Research by the University of Brighton and Plumpton College (commissioned by the British Horse Society) found that riding stimulates positive feelings, such as happiness and self esteem, and it can help to address negative feelings associated with anxiety and depression.
You could help to save Britain’s bridleways
In 2026 any UK bridleways that have been wrongly classified, or are not formally recorded on the Definitive Map as a bridleway or restricted byway will be forever scratched from the record books. This means we could potentially lose many of the existing bridleways that help us to ride safety, off the roads. Road that are only getting busier! By exploring new routes and helping to uncover hidden tracks you can help the bridleways and access officers from the British Horse Society (BHS) to secure better, safer riding routes to enjoy for years to come.
Hacking out doesn’t have to cost you a thing. It’s a fun activity you can do with your horse that doesn’t have to cost you a penny. Simply saddle up and head on out the gate.
Whether you’re alone with your horse or hacking with a friend riding in the countryside is great fun. Enjoy canters along grassy tracks, pop the odd log, explore new routes, perfect your lateral work - the options are endless. Beats going round and round the school right?
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!
*Pretty, J, Griffin, M, Sellens, M and Pretty, C J. 2003. Green Exercise: Complementary Roles of Nature, Exercise and Diet in Physical and Emotional Well-Being and Implications for Public Health Policy. CES Occasional Paper 2003–1, Colchester: University of Essex.