Hacking- Why is it so important?
Hacking can be tricky, and in some cases impossible due to location and other factors beyond your training schedule.
If it is possible to hack, we think you should regularly and here is why:
Breaking up schooling sessions with hacking is great for variety and to give your horse some fresh surrounding to see, while relaxing in a less collected pace. While not technically "schooling" you are teaching your horse to take in their surroundings and react calmly to anything unusual.
Reacting to new surroundings is important for your outings to shows and unfamiliar places, there will be lots of new things to see, hear, smell and it can all be very exciting. If your horse has been exposed to similar (previously new) experiences and environments, they may not be so anxious to be in this exciting new place.
Hacking is great for fitness! especially when there are hills to trot up, canter tracks and long distances to tackle. Always remember to tailor your hacking plan to your horse's level of fitness, and experience. If the horse is anxious or less experienced, it may be good to take a friend along on their more experienced horse horse or just having someone walk beside you can be reassuring and nice company.
Becoming familiar with different terrain is helpful, to get the horse thinking about where they need to put their feet in order to stay balanced. Woodland is very good for this, offering logs and dips to navigate along with different ground conditions.
We suggest using brushing boots while out and about, a rouge twig or scratch can cause a whole host of injuries. Your horse may also be more prone to brushing injuries out hacking while navigating difficult ground, so always keep them protected and check your horse's legs when you return home.
For you as a rider, it is nice to see parts of your local area that may not be accessible by car. Adventure with your horse (where safe and legal) to new places to explore your surroundings. It is good for relaxation, curiosity and bonding.
Most of all, have fun. You work so hard to school your horse and meet a certain standard, relax a little and let him stretch his legs and come back refreshed, ready for his next training session.