Hacking in the dark?

MuddyMonster

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Apologies for the mention of the dreaded 'W' word 🙈 Working from home now means that I routinely hack before work in the week which I love but I think in deepest, darkest winter I'll need to leave in the dark to keep it up. I'm loathe to have return to the routine of winter schooling sessions to keep fit so been considering having in the dark.

Does anyone hack in the dark? Or is it completely stupid idea?!

We will either be hacking onsite on the farm or we go straight from our driveway onto off road riding so no roadwork involved.

I'm assuming lights are key to this? And possibly a reflective standard or coat rather than my standard array of high viz coats, gilets and tabards?

I'm thinking I'll probably need a hat light but is one enough? What would be best to attach to pony? I want him lit up too, just in case.

I'm also considering some kind of lights for my stirrups for extra visibility on dull, daylight days (some of our longer rides involve short stretches of road to get further afield). Is there any lights that would attach to my stirrups?
 

Annagain

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There have been a few threads on this in the past with some really good recommendations for kit if you do a search. It's not something I could do unfortunately I have to do the first part of my hacking on a busy road and it just wouldn't be safe. You're very lucky that you can.
 

AFB

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I hack on site in the evenings and it quite often gets dark at this time of year before I'm heading back - don't think I'd set out in the dark though. Because it gets dark while we're out my eyes adjust pretty well and I don't find I need anything, BUT I know I'm on private property and have 0 chance of bumping into a cyclist/walker etc.

If I was off site I would want to be lit up like a Christmas tree. Wouldn't entertain roadwork at all - drivers are bad enough when they can see you!
 

Roxylola

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I hack in the dark but on lit roads. I also often go before work and apart from about 4 weeks mid Dec to Jan its mostly getting light by 7. I prefer that as at least its getting lighter. I have an array of lights and high viz on. Supercob is spookier than he would be in the daylight though especially on his own. So I'm not sure I'd want to be off road in the dark personally
 
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I used to be at a yard which backed on to a well lit housing estate. We would often tootle around there to break the monotony of winter schooling. The residents were used to us so we weren't unexpected, and we were lit up like Christmas trees! I had a light up breast plate which was excellent, cycle lights on my stirrups, i used led bands on his boots and me and also sewed them along the rump of his hi viz exercise sheet, i also wore hi viz, although hi viz is preety useless in dark dark.

I did once drive along a road where i wasn't expecting to see a horse and saw loads of 'floating' lights, it completely threw me and it was a good while before i realised what it was! I wouldn't do that!
 

Bernster

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Lit up like a Xmas tree is the way to go ! I don’t as we have road work. We got caught out last year and came home with it darker than I’d like, we had masses of hi vis on and it was the final stretch of road but I didn’t feel safe. One driver stopped to comment that it was too dark to ride (which I knew was the case). Another didn’t comment and instead decided to deliberately swerve at us from the other side of the road instead 🙄🤷‍♀
 

paddy555

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we used to hack for miles on the moorland in the dark either after work or returning from a day ride. We found the knack was to avoid lights. As long as we were safely away from the road of course. Horses see well in the dark and it helped them not to confuse them with lights. The tables are very much turned when you are totally reliant on your horse and you have to trust him completely as he is the only one who can see.

Putting some hi viz actually on the horse would provide protection for it if you fell off and it got on a road.
We carried bicycle lights red and ordinary which went on the back of us and our hats. These flashed. We switched them on for the last 100 yards home on the road.

This is of course all based on hacking off road, on the roads, lit or not would be very different.
 

Pippity

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Hi-viz, my favourite!

I don't hack in anything worse than dusk, so I go for lights to make me visible, rather than lights so I can see, if that makes sense.

Blue has an LED browband and breastplate, along with a super-bright bike light attached to the bum of her hi-viz quarter sheet and a few strands of red LEDs cannibalised from another breastplate. I also carry an LED whip, have LED heelclips, and LED bands on my wrists.

I'd love some LEDs for her legs but none of the ones I've tried have been waterproof enough for the hacking around my way. Walk through one puddle and they're fried. They also look incredibly uncomfortable because they're just runner armbands with the word 'equestrian' added and the price tripled. My dream would be something like this, but not motion activated: https://www.teddystwistedproducts.c...og-safety-lights-collars/horse-safety-lights/

I've seen a company called Techalogic advertising front and back lights with cameras built in. They seem to have been originally designed with cyclists in mind, but they've tested it with a rider or two, with the lights on a helmet harness. On an FB post, they mentioned the harness being hi-viz but I couldn't see that option on their site. They're a bit too pricy to buy on a whim (and I already have three helmet cams and never remember to wear them) but I'd be interested in reviews if anybody does buy them.

Edit: A while back, somebody mentioned a fully reflective quarter sheet that was also hi-viz, rather than just being grey. I've been looking, but haven't been able to find such a thing! If anybody does find it, I'd love to take a look. I generally set out in light and come back in gloom, so I need something that's hi-viz as well as reflective.
 

humblepie

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I used to quite often hack in the dark and that particular horse was better! I can generally get away with hacking just about in the light and starting work a bit later so haven't had to hack in the proper dark for ages although others on the yard do as it is off road round fields. I wear hi viz anyway but if a bit dark and needing to go on a road have various lights - have used cyclists ones in the past and the lower you can get them the better as that is the eyesight level for motorists.
 

Parrotperson

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The very first thing you should do if you're considering this is to check the updated Highway Code and make sure you are legal (and beyond!)

That way of anything goes wrong then insurance companies can't say "but you weren't compliant with the law"
 

Hallo2012

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hack in the dark (off road) all winter...........you will be better without a headtorch as the light make its very disorientating and creates shadows.

your eyes adjust quickly, all i find is that when cantering you lose track of how much ground you've covered.....BUT they see far better than we do and so far even going flat out mine pulls up in the exact same spot we would do normally.
 

MuddyMonster

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Thanks for all the responses - glad to know hacking in the dark isn't a totally out there idea :D

It's definitely all off road - well, the routes I'm planning to do in the dark anyway! We're very lucky in that respect as have a number of options - although we have some quiet road work for longer rides, I won't have time for these in the week before work anyway. It'll be treat enough to just be able to ride out :)

Pony does wear high viz as normal - currently he has a high viz breastplate & wears a high viz exercise sheet. He's had leg wraps but we're pretty tough on them off-roading so found they just didn't last, although I'm tempted to try high viz boots. I have a high viz hat cover with reflective bits on, always wear a high viz top, gilet or coat depending upon weather.

Love the idea of LED browband and breastplate though and it would be easy enough to add some lights to his exercise sheet. I might look at a reflective sheet too, if we go out regularly in the dark. I wonder if you can get reflective tape? I could add tape to his exercise sheet as a temporary measure :D

Thank you for the tip about having them low for other people's eyesight. Pony is 14hh at most, but will bear that in mind when placing them :)

ETA: Reflective tape is a thing, it turns out!
 

Leandy

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I used to hack in the dark to exercise my horses after school many years ago. It was perfectly doable. All off-public road - although part of it was the local farm access road but there was plenty of room (like acres, it went across a field) to get off it if you came across the farmer driving home and, of course with his headlights, you got plenty of notice and I just hopped onto the grass as he went by. It was a very quiet, rural area and I never came across anyone else, didn't wear lights or hi-viz (not sure hi-viz even existed then) but there was absolutely no need. I'd do the same today if it was quiet enough not to be meeting people. I agree that it is easier to see in the dark in the absence of artificial lights and of course horses see in the dark much better than we do. If I expected to meet people I would probably wear a head-torch.
 

NinjaPony

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Don’t see why it would be a problem off road, just be careful about the ground as obviously you can’t see holes, ruts etc in the dark as well. I wouldn’t want to do it on a difficult spooky horse, would have happily done it on my safe Connie though.
 

planete

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Your horse may surprise you. One of mine was very spooky in daylight and steady as a rock in the dark and another one who was bombproof in daylight was unrideable in the dark. Both Arabs. If you can be totally off road, have a trial run before buying a lot of gear.
 

splashgirl45

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many years ago i had to hack in the dark as horse was stabled 24/7 which was pretty normal on the outskirts of london, i had lights on stirrups and used to put a white mens shirt over my jacket plus a light on my right arm, hi viz wasnt a thing then in the 60's. local people were used to seeing horses on the road so i never had any problems and it was only 15mins on roads, and once i got off the road i could see ok and as i had been riding the routes for years in the light i knew what the footing was like..my horse was lively but sensible unless cantering in a group and was traffic proof..so if you know the tracks you should be fine
 

millikins

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Daughter and I have without any problems. We used bicycle lights on stirrups, hi viz vests with battery powered LEDs reflective leg wraps etc. Very useful was a lit tail wrap, agree with others that a head torch bobs about and is distracting. We have to do about 80 yards of unlit road to reach bridleway so always left it very late to avoid most traffic. Ponies couldn't care less about the dark.
 

magicmoments

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I'll preface this by saying I haven't, but providing that you are lit up like a xmas tree, and preferably reflective gear too, and horse is not spooky I really don't see the problem. Drivers will be able to see you easier than in daylight. If they back off while they work out what they are coming upto so much the better. After all we don't tell cyclists to only ride in daylight.
I once broke down not far from a corner as it was getting dusk. When the breakdown truck came he said how easily he could see me because of the hazard lights, so I was actually better off in the dark, than I would have been in daylight.
 

SEL

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I used to with my old boy but there were no roads. Bad enough in daylight where I am now, plus the Appy is night blind. I used to enjoy it and the oldie knew the tracks so wasn't bothered. He used to spook at hedgehogs though!
 

Pippity

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This is what Blue wore for the ~200m of roadwork we do to get to the off-road, along with me carrying an LED whip and some lights on her arse. Every motorist saw us in plenty of time to slow down. In fact, they were better behaved than they are in daylight. I'm planning on adding more lights on her legs and arse to make her better lit from behind, and a light on my helmet so I'm visible over hedges. I'm also considering an LED waistcoat.

I don't intend to ride in the pitch black, but I'm happy to head out in daylight and come home at dusk, as long as I'm lit up like the Blackpool Illuminations.

1632429444310.png
 

gryff

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I've always done it and actually found main roads through the village and housing estates the best places. Cars are driving reasonably slowly anyway and due to the ambient street lighting, my ultra reflective exercise sheet, jacket and leg wraps make us super visible. The times I ride are commuting times, so cars are used to having cyclists on the roads, too. I think I'm more visible at night on these roads than many riders are during the day.
 
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