Five benefits of hacking your horse
We know that all horse owners & equestrian professionals will get a huge number of daily steps in due to the general daily tasks involved with a horse…… or horses. Typically, your steps will spike early as the tasks such as mucking out and bringing horses in and out of the field will get you moving, perhaps even before your office job has begun.
So, while as a busy equestrian you may already be getting much more than the average number of daily steps in, this National month is used to encourage everyone to keep active and keep healthy in a free and flexible way- through walking.
To celebrate National Walking Month, we encourage you to take your horse for an enjoyable walk. Whether you prefer a gentle amble or a canter down your local bridle path or beach, there are a number of amazing benefits to taking a ride outside of the school. Read on to discover some of the psychological and physiological benefits that hacking can provide to your horse.
- Add interest to your routine
Taking your horse for a walk is a great way to break up their schooling routine which is vital to keeping their brain engaged and interested in their work.
- Aid suppleness
Hacking out is a great opportunity to let your horse stretch. You may be able to ride with a slightly looser rain compared to when you school/jump, so you may wish to use this as an opportunity to encourage them to walk long and low. This provides a great stretch over their back which is excellent for reducing stiffness.
- Boost your horse’s confidence
If your horse is more on the nervy side, you may not be able to enjoy the benefits of a loose rain…. yet. Getting your horse out regularly to see and pass new unusual things is the only way to improve your horse's confidence. A great way to help a nervous horse is to lead them out with an experienced horse. Building your horse's confidence will improve all areas of riding as a less spooky horse is preferable in every discipline… your horse can’t avoid wonky trees or unusual colours forever. Plus, once they feel more relaxed while hacking, they will be able to receive all of the benefits it has to offer.
- Easy fitness
Going for an easy walk is a great way to get in exercise but provides a break from more intensive training. When you go for a hack, or out for an early ride on the gallops it is easy to stack up the miles before you know it which is great for your horse’s fitness without making it feel like work. Whether your routine consists of mainly schooling or mainly hacking, keeping your horse moving is vital for their physical well-being as it helps keep health issues such as laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome at bay.
- Hacking makes horses happy
A hacking horse is a happy horse! You may notice your horse's nostrils flair, their ears may point forward, and they may walk with a particular purpose when you take them on a hack. These are all signs that your horse is happy to be hacking.
During this month many people will be going for sponsored walks to raise money for their chosen charities. If you would like to get behind a charity a sponsored ride would also be the perfect way to celebrate this month too.
We think May is the perfect time of year to get out and enjoy riding & hacking, so we do hope you are able to seize the opportunity for you and your horse to receive some of the wonderful benefits of walking.