Monday, 23 March 2015

The Benefits of Hacking in Company

I recently went hacking out with another person at my yard which is something I very rarely do! It's partly because there's not normally many people around to come with us but the main reason is that Pea is a bit of a bugger with others and when you first trot/canter he has a bit of a rodeo moment so I'm a bit cautious of who I go with as I don't want him to kick their horse. He's not overly bad with others but if I do hack in company it will only ever be with one other and I have to be really careful and explain that he will buck, and though he's not malicious he may do it right by the other horse. I always joke that it's a good job he's not a racehorse as he would try to knock out the competition, or just stand rodeo'ing at the start in a huff that he's not in the lead! 

Despite my reservations, Pea wasn't too badly behaved. He did have one bronk fit but he's good that when I give a slight tug on the reins he knows to stop and behave. We didn't have a canter as such as I was still a bit wary and also the ground seemed slightly hard and with Pea's hind leg issues I was a bit paranoid that it might make him a bit bad! I realised after that I really should hack him out in company more often as he will settle down the more he does it and it's nice for him to have a bit if variety and company rather than just hacking on his own all the time! (plus he probably likes the reprieve of me not chatting away to him about pointless stuff when he clearly has no idea what I'm on about, hinting at me to shut up by spooking at a leaf!). 

Therefore, I decided to put together a post on the benefits of hacking in company and also took to twitter during #equinehour to ask people their opinions :)

#1: Helps gain confidence
Whether you're hacking out a youngster who's out exploring beyond the confines of the arena or a spooky horse, hacking with friends can be a great way to help your horse overcome his fears. Pea can be spooky about silly things such as people walking, branches sticking out or gaps in the hedge but he can also spook at some slightly bigger things. When he's on his own he will just spin and try to bolt so it ends up that I have to get off to lead him past things but if he's with another it gives him that slight confidence to keep going forward. 

#2: Adds variety
It's already a known fact that going out for a hack can act as a reprieve from the confines of an arena but constantly going out alone can also get a bit boring. Thus, adding a hacking companion gives a bit of variety and excitement. 

#3: Safer
This one is a given. Hacking with others means that should something bad happen, there are others there to help, whether it be to phone for help or just give you a helping hand back into the saddle. As they saying goes: "safety in numbers!"

#4: More presence on the road
I'm lucky that all my hacking is done off-road round the farm. But for many, this is not the case and so hacking in company can give more presence on the road as it's easier to spot two horses than one and also makes drivers to go past more carefully. 

#5: Teaches manners/obedience/patience
Hacking in company teaches horses to tolerate other horses as well as patience in that they may have to wait for the other horse. It can also help teach them obedience - such as in Pea's case - by making them learn that they are not allowed to have a rodeo fit or speed off when having a canter, but instead still listen to the rider and keep pace with the other horse. 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

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