Updated: Jul 11
Welcome to this weeks edition of our Take 5 Things Series. This week we have Laura Szuca an equestrian blogger and vlogger talking to us about how you can make your hacking count. With the current world situation many horse owners and horse riders many not have access to an arena or menage so with these 5 tips you can keep your horse in shape, keep his brain working and keep up with his training all whilst enjoying the beautiful countryside.
Hi, my name is Laura owner of 14-year-old ISH horse Mikey, I have owned Mikey for 5 and a half years, he is the first horse that I have actually owned, even though I have ridden since I was about 5. Mikey and I are really all rounders, having a go at bit of everything, but mainly focused on showing and dressage, we had just won our first county show when sadly, Mikey suffered an injury to his proximal suspensory ligament. Which meant there have been a fair amount of lows to report and the last 18 months have been pretty tough for us. I am doing less riding that I used to, so whilst before the injury I would ride 5 times a week, now it’s more like 3 times a week with some long lining to keep Mikey’s weight under control!
We love hacking out and have been hacking all over the place, which is good, as since Mikey's injury and rehabilitation hacking has really helped us stay sane. I am lucky with the hacking we have at our yard, there is miles and miles, and we don’t need to go near the roads. We have also been on lots of hacking adventures, weekends to the beach in Norfolk, a week in Thetford Forest, lots of fun rides over the years and locally we have some fantastic woods to enjoy and explore which just before lockdown we were managing to visit once a week and loving it.
Exercised to do whilst hacking
Some of you might not have the luxury of a school, whilst others of you might be looking for some ideas on how to spice up your hacking so here are my top five tips for making the most of your hacking:
1. Paces within the pace – Your horse is more likely to be forward thinking out hacking, so take advantage of the extra spark and play around with your gears within the paces. Lots of on and backs in all paces will really help strengthen your horse, improve your aids and allow you to start working on your medium trot and canter without the confines of the school!
2. Water training – Not always possible if we have had weeks of sunshine but if you find puddles on your hack then take advantage of them. Right now, it’s harder than ever to train for events and get out and about to course hire etc with the lock down restrictions, so make use of what can on your hacks. Even better the puddles you come across on your hack are free to use and you don’t need to go to the expense of hiring a Cross Country course!
3. Fitness training – Hacking is a great way to work on fitness (for you and the horse). Long hacks out (if safe to do) will build fitness, but if you are restricted on fields, you can try some interval training, this can work even just round just one field, I trained for a 3 day event, and did my fitness work in just one field (stay tuned for EquiNations blog on interval training), either way it is good to work on fitness levels outside of the school!
4. Some lateral moves – Hacking is great for having a play with some leg yielding, use tree’s or objects you find on route to leg yield to / from this not only mixes things up when you are out on your hacks but will help improve your horse’s suppleness.
5. Lastly, use your hacks to just ‘be’ - It can be so easy to spend time worrying about what is going on in the world, how well your horses are going, or what’s for tea. Take a breath and just ENJOY. Be present, be in the moment, and just ENJOY!
I hope these tips will help you and your horse get the most out of your hacking and stay positive during these difficult times.