If, like many horse owners, you don’t have access to an arena, but you still want to improve your horse’s ridden work, here’s some simple advice on how to school your horse while out hacking.
Schooling while on a hack is also a very good way of getting your horse to focus on you, which is particularly useful if they are a spooky character.
Obviously it goes without saying that you still need to be fully aware of your surroundings and other road users while undertaking such a schooling session.
An often over-looked movement, but an essential one — especially if you’re out hacking and need to stop at a road junction. It is important that you establish the halt, and make sure it is immobile for as long as you want it to be, and not just until your horse decides it is bored and wants to move off. Try not to fiddle in halt too much and give your horse plenty of praise when they are good.
This movement can help to improve suppleness and straightness. Your horse needs to move laterally on two tracks, so make sure you are not likely to meet any traffic while riding this exercise — you don’t want to be on the wrong side of a road with oncoming vehicles. Your horse’s body should remain straight with a slight bend from the poll in the opposite direction to the one you are moving towards.
Your horse needs to bend around your inside leg. Your horse’s shoulders and front legs are brought off the straight line and the inside foreleg passes in front of the outside foreleg while the hind legs stay straight — your horse should be moving on three tracks. On the roads, it is wise to bend his head to the right so that he is able to see any on-coming traffic, and you can bend to the left when off road.
You can practice transitions anywhere on a hack, from walk to halt all the way up to transitions within a pace such as canter when off-road. Make sure that you get a positive response from your horse and they don’t just ‘dribble’ through their transitions.
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