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Cross Post: Hacking Alone

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  • Cross Post: Hacking Alone

    I posted this in Eventing and then realized that this may be a better place for it, haha.

    I'm a big fan of hacking, and I'd live to incorporate it into my mare's training as much as possible. The issue is that I don't have many opportunities to hack out with other horses, which is especially important with the greenies.

    My mare has probably gone on about 3 hacks - two with other horses (she was great, brave, not spooky), and one little jaunt solo where she was looky and very much "on alert" (way more so than with other horses), but still good.

    I will be sticking on property, staying out of the woods (more visible, less scary stuff) for the first while, taking a cell phone, sticking to the walk for a while, etc.

    So, those of you who don't have other horses to take out with your greenies, what do you do to ensure a fun, safe, good experience? I've always taken greenies out with other horses, so I'm wondering if there's something I should do that I'm not thinking of.

  • #2
    I do a lot of different things. I keep moving, I add lateral work, I do a lot of transitions. Really anything to keep their mind off of what ever is scary. I don't do this constantly, just when I feel they are getting nervous about something.
    I try and get them to relax, I will even massage their neck a little bit to help them relax. If they are relaxed, I let them walk on, if they get nervous, I add the other stuff.

    Good luck and have fun!
    www.michelesfindinghappiness.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Welp, my guy isn't green anymore but he was pretty young (4 1/2) when we started going out alone. I love it! Make sure your cell phone is charged and on your person, not attached to your saddle. Make sure someone at your barn knows where you are going and when you plan to be back. And wear your helmet.

      I have so much fun going out alone because we can do what we want, go at our own pace (which is usually faster than others at my barn like).
      What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

      Comment


      • #4
        I prefer to take greenies out alone, then I don't have to break the "I only want to go out with a buddy" problem later.

        Often I will take them for a walk the first couple times (like you would take a dog for a walk- you on foot). This really gets them used to have you as their buddy, I'll also stop and let them graze, give them some treats, etc to really instill the idea that going out alone with me is fun. Then say maybe the third time, I'll walk out and then get on midway for the ride back since it is usually much less balking about going home. The next time I might walk out a 1/4 of the way and ride 3/4's etc. I also will stick to the woods as much as possible as I find have a delineated trail works better for greenies than a wide open field. It is all about building their confidence.
        I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time -Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
        If I were your appendages, I'd hold open your eyes so you would see- Incubus

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by tabula rashah View Post
          I prefer to take greenies out alone, then I don't have to break the "I only want to go out with a buddy" problem later.

          Often I will take them for a walk the first couple times (like you would take a dog for a walk- you on foot). This really gets them used to have you as their buddy, I'll also stop and let them graze, give them some treats, etc to really instill the idea that going out alone with me is fun. Then say maybe the third time, I'll walk out and then get on midway for the ride back since it is usually much less balking about going home. The next time I might walk out a 1/4 of the way and ride 3/4's etc. I also will stick to the woods as much as possible as I find have a delineated trail works better for greenies than a wide open field. It is all about building their confidence.
          Perfect advice!
          What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with Tabula that taking greenies out alone is a GOOD idea and results in a more confident, managable horse down the road.

            I do tons and tons of conditioning alone and ALWAYS start horses on the trail without buddies.

            To stay safe(r):

            1. Do lots of handwalking on trails first. The horse you lead is the horse you ride. Progress to ground-driving and do enough that the horse becomes confident leading the way and taking instruction from behind. (I generally do this with a rope halter and 10-foot lead, not with 2 driving lines like I would do in the round corral.)

            2. Tell someone where you're going, and make sure it is in cell range.

            3. Take the earliest rides in relatively populated places where you would probably be found if incapacatated.

            4. Carry your cell phone on your person. (SPI belts are great for this.)

            5. Don't be a hero. Get off if the horse feels explosive. Handwalk through the nerves, ground driving if at all possible to build confidence. Get back on when his emotions settle. Just don't turn back when the going gets rough -- the horse needs to do what you ask. I know some people will disagree with me, but I have not experienced any ill training effects from dismounting to work through problem spots.

            6. In some cases, speed helps. A trotting horse is often less spooky than a strolling one. Just make sure you have control of the gas and brakes.

            7. Have some tricks up your sleeve. SRS, circles, bending, lateral work, whatever. Use for control, distraction, etc. as needed (and sometimes just for practice).

            8. Try to have fun. Don't let your nerves get the best of you. Sing, have a conversation with your horse, whatever. If you do get nervous, you can always get off and walk for a while until you're confident again. Nobody says you've failed if you don't have a perfect ride every time.
            Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.

            Comment


            • #7
              I kind of disagree with BG.

              Start your hacking with other riders if you can. While on the trail, you can play keepaway with the other horses- they can turn around or go a different direction, or turn off an a different trail for a short time, and then come back.

              But that is why I do not mind riding in the woods. Not much to look at. My guy, when he sees wide open spaces, likes to think about running.

              If your horse is spooky, I would not want to get off. Start working your horse and getting it to focus on working rather than spooking. At least if he bolts you still have your horse, rather than breaking the reins out of your hands and losing a horse.

              Pick short routes to start. Out and back. Good Pony. Out and back a little longer.

              BUt I do agree not every ride is going to be great. But they will get better. I ride alone almost all the time now, and really like it.


              Choose the same trail for a while. Then once being out on the hack is going well, change it just a little.

              I would not necessarily trot. Going faster can hype everything up.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Diamond Jake View Post
                Start your hacking with other riders if you can. While on the trail, you can play keepaway with the other horses- they can turn around or go a different direction, or turn off an a different trail for a short time, and then come back.

                But that is why I do not mind riding in the woods. Not much to look at. My guy, when he sees wide open spaces, likes to think about running.

                I would not necessarily trot. Going faster can hype everything up.


                I agree that hacking with others, learning to pass and be passed, leave the group, etc. is necessary. I just prefer to get a horse confident on his own first.

                The woods/open space comment cracks me up. My horses are just the opposite. I reckon they like the open spaces because they can see whether anything is coming to eat them, whereas anything might be hiding behind those trees! Perhaps it's all to do with where they're raised. Mine all came off the desert range.

                I should have said that the trotting thing really depends on the horse, and sometimes even on the day. I play this one by ear.
                Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi
                  I ride alone 90% of the time and mostly on green horses. I agree with the people who say start alone. I have found that I don't have to break a herd bound horse later. I find they are much more confident in the end. When you go with others to start your horse will need a buddy every time. For me I found much easier to get them used to a buddy the used to being alone.

                  Also if they get really upset and you get off ( I have had to do this) walk until their brain comes back and then get back on......BUT Don't turn around and go back home! I always think one more mile if thats what it takes. It doesn't have to be any faster then a walk but we don't go home til the brain is back. I get alot of ring/race sour nervous horses and I always find the really bad one seem to enjoy after a ride or two. And I think its healthy for show type horses it get out of the ring.

                  DO Take your cell phone and keep it on your person NEVER on the horse. Tell someone where your going. And most of all enjoy it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm enjoying this post as I am working with an OTTB who is naturally inquisitive. However, I do not have trails from my barn. Do you folks haul out to ride alone? (NOT to hijack the OP thread ;-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yep I haul out 95% of the time to a state dorset with trails.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I do have some trails from my house, but yes, I most the time I haul out to ride on my own.
                        I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time -Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
                        If I were your appendages, I'd hold open your eyes so you would see- Incubus

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I keep my horses at home and have no round pen or arena. I always train my own youngsters and usually always ride alone . That said, I do my schooling in a flat field. When they are listening and responsive to me I start going all the way around the field and just gradually go farther each time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tabula rashah View Post
                            I prefer to take greenies out alone, then I don't have to break the "I only want to go out with a buddy" problem later.

                            Often I will take them for a walk the first couple times (like you would take a dog for a walk- you on foot). This really gets them used to have you as their buddy, I'll also stop and let them graze, give them some treats, etc to really instill the idea that going out alone with me is fun. Then say maybe the third time, I'll walk out and then get on midway for the ride back since it is usually much less balking about going home. The next time I might walk out a 1/4 of the way and ride 3/4's etc. I also will stick to the woods as much as possible as I find have a delineated trail works better for greenies than a wide open field. It is all about building their confidence.
                            This is an excellent training method that I also have used for years. I prefer roads to trails, but it works the same way in avoiding wide open fields.
                            Proud to have two Takaupa Gold line POAs!
                            Takaupas Top Gold
                            Gifts Black Gold Knight

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just browsing around and I saw this thread. It being October and all, I would check the hunting schedule in your area before hacking out alone, and dress accordingly for visibility. Have a nice ride!
                              "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

                              http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Great thread! I recently got a horse who has years of trail experience and camping - but I think he must have never gone out alone (the photos I got always have several horses but that might be because going alone makes it hard to get pictures). Anyhow, he gets balky and I'm glad to see the suggestions here. Some of the balkiness seem to be stubbornness but some seems to be lack of confidence - good to have more tools to work with! Thanks

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  It's nice to have a horse who isn't already herd bound. It's nice to work on group dynamics, too, but don't worry about it. How nice for you and your horse to go for hacks! I got a 4yr old TB right off the track as a kid and was a hunter rider at a show barn. We had phe-nom-e-nal trails right off the property, but no one would ever go with me. It's just so not a big deal. Horses were domesticated so we could romp around outside. The best thing you can take with you is a good 'tude. It won't be perfect every time and you can't control for every teradactyl and horse eating rock but if you are relaxed and happy, he can be too and you will both be much safer. If he does get stuck, it's a great opportunity to teach FORWARD! through problems. If he learns the simplest way to avoid trouble to to just go right through it, he should end up bold to fences and life in general.

                                  Doesn't sound like you will be out long or far enough to need much else. Have fun!
                                  An auto-save saved my post.

                                  I might be a cylon

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by tabula rashah View Post
                                    I prefer to take greenies out alone, then I don't have to break the "I only want to go out with a buddy" problem later.

                                    Often I will take them for a walk the first couple times (like you would take a dog for a walk- you on foot). This really gets them used to have you as their buddy, I'll also stop and let them graze, give them some treats, etc to really instill the idea that going out alone with me is fun. Then say maybe the third time, I'll walk out and then get on midway for the ride back since it is usually much less balking about going home. The next time I might walk out a 1/4 of the way and ride 3/4's etc. I also will stick to the woods as much as possible as I find have a delineated trail works better for greenies than a wide open field. It is all about building their confidence.
                                    ^This!! Wonderful advice!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My horse isn't young, but she is green. 8 years old. I ride her alone in the ring and then take her on short trail rides(alone) and gradually incorporate longer rides. I did have a problem with a certain area of the trail. I am not sure if she is spooking or yanking my chain. So, I walk her there(in hand) and schooled more at the ring. So far so good. I don't think I am ready to haul out alone at this point though. So, until I have my own confidence I meet a friend at the trails and we ride.

                                      Karen
                                      Strange how much you've got to know Before you know how little you know. Anonymous

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I wear my cell phone on me (around my calf with one of those armband type holsters) and I turn the GPS on so that I can be tracked and found.

                                        I also attach a small luggage tag to my saddle with my name and phone number in case my horse is found by someone else

                                        Wear bright clothing. Blaze orange now that it's hunting season.

                                        Comment

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