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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
    Location
    Indiana
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    11,011

    Default Hacking out?

    My barn only has an indoor to ride in and my trainer comes to me, so unless I'm at a show or clinic I'm stuck indoors. The friend I trail rode with has an injured horse so that's out unless I find another buddy.

    I've attempted to ride my mare in her field after I turn everyone else in but that is one big dangerous wreck.

    On Wednesday I cleared a path to a field behind the barn, rode her until she was tired indoors, then lead her over a drainage ditch and got on. Basically it's a big empty field surrounded by houses, connected to some corn fields, and an easement owned by the electric company. She was fantastic, and I'm hoping she doesn't realize where home is the second ride and loses her mind.

    How do you handle hacking your horse out? We'll be doing it alone, I wore my XC vest and strapped my phone to my leg, and I put a halter and lead rope underneath her bridle.

    She can be herdbound at shows with fences but that is basically gone, and she's never had a problem going XC. I'm not sure if this is because she doesn't know where home is, or she's going to fast to care.

    My retired gelding I'd hack out anywhere, anytime because he was a good lazy boy who didn't care about much but food. He spooked 3 inches sideways.
    Last edited by enjoytheride; Apr. 16, 2011 at 03:03 PM.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2004
    Posts
    3,218

    Default

    Whoa that will be fun when she figures out home, takes off and hits that drainage ditch

    I'd work on a one rein stop - get your flexes in order so that you can bend her before she flattens out. You know that rod stuck down their back feeling, the ironing board ride! Practice it so that she knows that she's not going anywhere. Has she ever taken off with you before? When we've restarted OTTBs and started youngsters we make sure that it never happens and they never know they can.

    You've taken the right precautions, phone, halter, vest. Maybe try a combo bit with some nose pressure. That helps back them off with a different feel on their face. The Myler combo is my go-to bit for Xcountry work.
    The truth is what you can get other people to believe.

    -- Tommy Smothers



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 2001
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    6,471

    Default

    Have you had issues hacking her out before? Taking a phone and halter/lead are good precautions for anyone. I would not put a different bit on her unless you have reason to think there will be an issue.
    I have not ever had a horse who wouldn't hack out alone as that's a big part of our schedule when weather permits, but if you are starting from scratch with her you want to teach her it's nothing to get excited about...
    The big man -- no longer an only child

    His new little brother



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Knoxville TN
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    1,306

    Default

    Teach her to ride out alone, just like you would any other unbroke baby horse. Right back to basics. Start with teeny tiny rides. You can have a trail ride of 3 minutes ... or less ... I've had trail rides of half a minute if it's a real baby, or has got stuck at some point about simply walking away from home ! Get on, ask for forward, and we got it ... big hug, smiles all round, treats, get off and go home. Just build it up all very gradually. You don't have to achieve something out on the trail - you always have the arena if you simply must do some cantering today - you can just walk for five minutes. And tomorrow you can walk for 7 minutes. And Monday, you can walk for 7 minutes and do three strides of trot... etc.

    I always have a one-rein-stop on the horse before I leave the arena, but then I pretty much have the one-rein-stop from the ground before I'll ever get on.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 31, 2001
    Posts
    1,354

    Default

    We hack the CANTER horses out ASAP in their retraining.. first we go with a buddy then they're on their own - our schedules are too crazy to be able to ALWAYS go together. I find they are very good about it - if anything they might balk and not go Forward... this is perfect for teaching them what the leg means!



    Put a neck strap on !



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2003
    Location
    Michigan
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    2,154

    Default

    Here's the 3 tips I would have on teaching horses to hack out:
    - start with short and build up
    - make it a reward
    - do it often

    I start by riding the horse in the indoor or outdoor arena until we are finished (30-45 minutes). Then I go on a short walk as a cool out. May be only 10 minutes, but make it relaxing and low key. Do this every ride that the weather / footing permits for a while. If things are going well, go a little further on your hack each day. As they are getting more comfortable with this program, start shortening the "serious" ride at the beginning, and lengthening the hack. Stick to a walk until you feel comfortable asking for a trot. Ask for it going away from the barn and make the trot sessions short (and gradually lengthen as long as the horse isn't being silly). Again, gradually build up to cantering.

    Both of my horses right now (one is an OTTB, other is a youngster) enjoy the "hack" part of our ride because they realize it's easier! Many times, I'll get on the mounting block and they try to head out towards the fields (and away from the arena). They both know that the arena usually means "dressage drudgery" . Using this method, my youngster (4 going on 5) has become very reliable on trails and I don't have to do my "pre-ride" anymore.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 26, 2007
    Location
    Boston MA
    Posts
    649

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by slp2 View Post
    Here's the 3 tips I would have on teaching horses to hack out:
    - start with short and build up
    - make it a reward
    - do it often

    I start by riding the horse in the indoor or outdoor arena until we are finished (30-45 minutes). Then I go on a short walk as a cool out. May be only 10 minutes, but make it relaxing and low key. Do this every ride that the weather / footing permits for a while. If things are going well, go a little further on your hack each day. As they are getting more comfortable with this program, start shortening the "serious" ride at the beginning, and lengthening the hack. Stick to a walk until you feel comfortable asking for a trot. Ask for it going away from the barn and make the trot sessions short (and gradually lengthen as long as the horse isn't being silly). Again, gradually build up to cantering.

    Both of my horses right now (one is an OTTB, other is a youngster) enjoy the "hack" part of our ride because they realize it's easier! Many times, I'll get on the mounting block and they try to head out towards the fields (and away from the arena). They both know that the arena usually means "dressage drudgery" . Using this method, my youngster (4 going on 5) has become very reliable on trails and I don't have to do my "pre-ride" anymore.
    ^^^This!! My OTTB had major issues hacking out alone. He is much better now after 6 months of practice, though I still have not asked him to cross the scary bridge over the highway alone. He would now rather hack out than do ringwork!! 4 months ago it was hard to get him to even walk down the back driveway....now he'd rather go in that direction than out front to the ring!

    Patience, persistence and baby steps!!!!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    Location
    West Coast of Michigan
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    36,321

    Default

    Familiarity breeds tolerance. Get her out there as often as possible.If she seems very reactive, earplugs are your friend.
    Click here before you buy.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
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    12,789

    Default

    Teach her to ride out alone, just like you would any other unbroke baby horse. Right back to basics. Start with teeny tiny rides.
    This and what dw said.

    I consider hacking out a must, and, at the moment, I'm going through these types of things with Toby, who is very much NOT Vernon in so many ways, including not being a whole lot of fun out and about (Vernon, on the other hand, has been babysitting much older horses on the trail since he was a 3 year old...). So, I keep taking him out on a little, mini hacks, pushing our limits each time (it IS funny what he likes and what he doesn't like...I thought he was going to climb into our old spring fed cistern the other day the first time he encountered it...most of the horses are terrified of it!). Sometimes we go alone, sometimes with a buddy (choose your buddy wisely...ponying him off of Vernon? A big, bad- hilariously bad- idea). He gets a little better every time. I also make sure I have tools in my toolbox- lots of flexing, keep him on the bit (if his attention wanders, he lights up), and keep my leg ON. He has to get over his trepidation. So we work on it a little at a time.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 1, 2002
    Location
    Indiana
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    Default

    Well, hack 1 was apparently so good because she was confused.

    Hack 2 started with an excellent dressage school, but when I lead her into the field she was jumpy from a dog barking (the barn dog barks under her tail and she dozes). Got on, hacked out.

    3 minutes into our 6 minute hack she steps on a rattlesnake, which ended up being a cornstalk. She explodes straight up in the air, spins, bolts, spins, rears, and comes to a quivering halt.

    I regained my stirrups, and bravely got off and led her back

    I did get back on her in the arena and schooled her more dressage before I put her away. She was pretty put out by that and hopefully she'll put two and two together.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
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    Middleburg, VA
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    Default

    One of our horses got buzzed by a locust last summer on a trot set...he bucked/reared/bolted/turned himself inside out because of it and unloaded the boss (it was very impressive...he landed like an Olympic gymnast!). It was a total overreaction. Don't feel bad...horses are very stupid sometimes.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2003
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,154

    Default

    That's too bad. If possible, maybe you could make plans with a barn mate to meet and go hacking together. That way, she will gain some confidence with another horse and realize it's not so scary. Then, work back towards going out alone (short rides, building up to longer).

    What I don't think you should do is stop trying to hack her out because of this incident. Just try to set her up for success by getting a wise babysitter horse to go out with her a few times if possible.

    Also--keep in mind that they all have days where they are on high alert. Especially in the spring. This could have been one of those days. Again, the more that you are able to get her out, the more she should relax about working outside the ring.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 13, 2008
    Posts
    5,459

    Default

    You can always just get off of her right when you finish your dressage/arena work, put the reins over her head and take her for a walk and even a jog.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 31, 2003
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    18,472

    Default

    Take advantage of it being strange she will look to you when she feels insecure. So be firm and patient, lots of praise for going forward, approaching things, etc.

    FWIW, Mapleshade hacks all her OTTBs out, sometimes the FIRST DAY she gets them, meaning they may have raced that week.. And she has dogs running around in the woods with her. Nothing like a new situation to create a bond
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Knoxville TN
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    Default

    and bravely got off and led her back
    Quit with the sad face already ! - that was the right thing to do I get off a LOT. If you do enough groundwork, they have a lot more trust in you when you're by their side at first, so it's something you can always use if you need to, to get you past a potentially scary situation.

    Right now, I think I'd be doing groundwork exercises* out in the field where you're intending to hack out, so you can iron out a lot of the kinks and spooks due to rattlecorn and other pony-eating boogers from the ground, since it's so much less ouchy to hit when you're already standing on it.

    *(think more western - rope-halter, twirly rope, lots of backing up, moving over, small circles, stop, inside turn - think parelli, CA, that sort of stuff - just get her feet moving, and her mind on you out there in the big wide world with all the distractions. And take it slow. And don't give up. Unless you want to give up. That's ok too)



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006
    Posts
    1,162

    Default

    I have not read all the replies so sorry if this has already been said. I've had pretty good success hacking out mine and I go alone 99.5% of the time - in fact I like it that way.

    I always start by hand walking them so I can assess if they will be nut jobs or not before I'm on them. That goes on for however long I feel they need. Then I get one and have my husband come along as the lead horse . We do that a few times, then I go alone and start with short rides. By this time the horse is pretty familiar with where we are going and fairly relaxed.

    One thing I always do is carry carrots. In the hand walking phase, I praise for being so brave and give carrots. When we've entered a field, I let them graze and chill.

    So far this has worked really well for me. The last horse I began with I skipped the husband step.

    The first horse I started this with was an older show horse who probably never saw a trail let alone woods since he came from the desert. It was NOT fun with him for a while, but I kept at it. He got to a point he enjoyed going out and was pretty brave. I even hacked him 5-6 miles alone to a public trail where we passed all kinds of stuff and he was great!

    Baby steps at first though. Trail riding is so fun!



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2002
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    Looking up
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    It's not "her" and "you". You are a team. If she is scared, don't blame her. Be brave, carry on, reassure her that you are with her and she has a friend in the big scary world. If you are scared of what she might do, she will do it -- because you expect it. Be a team with her. Look forward to the day when she will love riding out! Take your time, don't push it. Yes, stepping on the cornstalk was scary -- perhaps you can find a way to ride back and forth over the cornstalks a little bit so that she understands the crunch isn't terrifying. Let her stop and sniff the ground and maybe even take a bite. Let her take her time. Reassure her you are with her and together she'll be safe. You are her herd.

    The only other thing I would add, is make sure you have permission to ride over any land that doesn't belong to your stable property.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



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