HACKING OUT SAFELY - Stay calm and confident

Tips on staying calm and confident

One of the pleasures of owning a horse is being able to go out for a ride, explore your local countryside, enjoy the views and spend time in the company of your horse and other horse-owning friends.

It is also good for giving your horse a break from working in the school or competitions - but of course you can still use hacks to educate your horse. 

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Use quiet lanes or bridleways to leg yield your horse or try shoulder-in. Why not practice your halts or work on your transitions along bridleways?

Riding your horse out allows him to see different things - from traffic to mums with children in pushchairs, barking dogs to flapping bits of rubbish. While you cannot prepare for everything there is some work you can do to get your horse ready for the sights he may meet out on hacks.

Preparatory work
Take a leaf out of the police horse's training book and accustom your horse to sights and sounds in the safety of your school or stable area. Here are just some of the ideas you can implement:

Ask anyone you know with cycles, motorbikes, dogs, children etc to visit you and your horse at home. Lead and then ride your horse around the objects, dealing with just one object at a time, until he knows that it is ok to walk past the motorbike etc. If your horse is new to you and you're not sure how he will react out on the roads, this approach is a good way to find out in safe surroundings!

Place objects such as open umbrellas, footballs, and flapping bags and so on in the arena and spend time getting your horse accustomed to them. You may need to enlist the help of a more experienced horse to give yours confidence in going past the flapping bag etc.

REMEMBER to deal with one hazard at a time - it may take a few days before your horse is happy going past the dummy roadworks you've set up in the school, but get him happy and confident with one issue before you move on to the next.

 Stay confident and calm yourself - your horse will look to you for reassurance if he is worried so it is vital that you are cool under pressure. If you don't think you can do this, ask a more experienced rider to help. Enlist the help of an instructor if necessary.

It may be helpful if, for the first few times you ride a new horse out, that your instructor or a reliable friend accompanies you on a sensible horse.

If you do ride out alone, remember to tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be. Take your mobile phone with you
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