With February drawing to a close and Spring just around the corner, it’s time for many horse owners to start bringing their horses back into regular work. It can be tempting to get stuck in to a new routine that really pushes you and your horse, but it is also important to consider your horse’s mental well being and fitness.
Hacking is a fantastic way to gently re-introduce work, keeping horses interested in their work and refreshing the rider after a long winter! Exposure to new and changing environments helps to desensitise a spooky horse and provides invaluable experience for both horse and rider in dealing with challenging situations. However, the benefits of hacking extend beyond mental well being; hacking is incredibly beneficial to physical health.
In contrast to schooling, hacking is often slower, with intervals of speed. These varied speeds teach a rider control; by regularly using the aids established in the school in a new environment, it reiterates the aid and prepares the combination for competitive use. These intervals also aid in building fitness in the horse; regularly moving up and down the gears can be likened to HIIT training, a popular method of effectively improving fitness.
The changes in ground conditions are perhaps one of the most important factors when hacking. These changes cannot be replicated in a school; surfaced arenas are designed to be supportive to the horse when working hard, whereas the varying surfaces found when hacking often do little to absorb impact. In turn, these varied environments can help to strengthen legs, ready for the harder ground expected in summer.
The care of legs is at the heart of New Equine Wear. The unique composite plastic guard found in NEW XC Boots helps to support tendons, unlike other boots that simply provide a layer around the leg. If your horse doesn’t require such a high level of protection, the range of NEW Brushing Boots lend themselves well to hacking. The heavy duty outer found on every NEW boot protects horses against scratches and scrapes from twigs, rutted ground – and even their own legs!
On your next hack, why not try and take a new route to expose your horse to different terrain and surroundings? Hill work is fantastic for engaging the hind end and navigating difficult ground in a woodland can help to improve co-ordination. What benefits could hacking have for you and your horse?