Just a happy hacker??

oldie48

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 April 2013
Messages
6,670
Location
South Worcestershire
I had an interesting chat with a neighbour who told me as she was "just a happy hacker" she didn't need to spend money on lessons. I have seen her out on the lanes and she is a complete passenger, pony slopping along on long reins at a snail's pace (you know the sort). I think hacking is potentially one of the most dangerous activities we do as riders but I held my tongue. What do others think?
 

Errin Paddywack

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 June 2019
Messages
3,508
I totally agree with you. You need to be a pretty competent rider with a well trained horse to venture out on today's roads. She sounds very naïve and complacent.
 

Goldie's mum

Well-Known Member
Joined
1 May 2022
Messages
98
I had an interesting chat with a neighbour who told me as she was "just a happy hacker" she didn't need to spend money on lessons. I have seen her out on the lanes and she is a complete passenger, pony slopping along on long reins at a snail's pace (you know the sort). I think hacking is potentially one of the most dangerous activities we do as riders but I held my tongue. What do others think?
I think you did the right thing. Offering unasked for advice to someone happy with how things are never goes well.
 

smolmaus

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2019
Messages
2,406
Location
Belfast
If she's happy plodding on the buckle and the pony is chilled and content to do the same I'd say they're doing okay?

Plenty of people would give a kidney to have the sort of pony you could do that with. I don't disagree that hacking is high on my personal risk-list but if you have quiet lanes (we don't) and a quiet pony I don't see why you can't just enjoy a plod. Hacking lessons aren't very common round my way anyway, maybe it's different elsewhere!
 

HappyHollyDays

Well-Known Member
Joined
2 November 2013
Messages
11,317
Location
On the edge of the Cotswolds
I’m just a happy hacker as well, it’s why I have my horses. I don’t want lessons, I don’t want to compete, I don’t want any pressure whatsoever so I just hack. I do ensure I’m in control at all times but I like meandering along and there’s nothing wrong with that. So each to their own because one persons fun is another persons hell.
 

ycbm

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 January 2015
Messages
44,176
I had an interesting chat with a neighbour who told me as she was "just a happy hacker" she didn't need to spend money on lessons. I have seen her out on the lanes and she is a complete passenger, pony slopping along on long reins at a snail's pace (you know the sort). I think hacking is potentially one of the most dangerous activities we do as riders but I held my tongue. What do others think?
Is she happy?
.
 

SEL

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 February 2016
Messages
8,372
Location
Buckinghamshire
I've got a friend who does that. Pony came from the travellers and was driven - seen everything and anything

Pony is now treated like royalty and in return pootles around the roads without blinking as cars go past too fast, dogs bark at it and pheasants jump out of hedges. The owner has mobility issues and would struggle with lessons.

They are happy (& I'm often jealous!)
 

poiuytrewq

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 April 2008
Messages
13,228
Location
Cotswolds
I think it’s fine, she probably knows her horse inside out and how it will react.
I used to hack home with my feet swinging out of my stirrups and on the buckle end. I wouldn’t now with current horse probably but it’s nice, really chilled and relaxed. I don’t think horses have to go “correctly” all the time.
 

LEC

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 July 2005
Messages
9,850
As with everything horses it’s all fine until it’s not. You see this at every level of owning horses from those who don’t ride them to those competing. You can’t worry about it. It’s up to people to ask for help or educate themselves better.
 

Skib

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 March 2011
Messages
1,266
Location
London
I am a happy hacker. I count off the days till I will be back on the mare and living the dream.
You are right that hacking is higher risk than being in the school. My first hacks on the mare, I kept contact, and leg on, just as you would like this lady to do.
But then one sunny day, I lengthened the rein and the mare was ever so happy. She looked around her at everything, the view, the people, the birds. If I lift the reins, she trots, if I say, Yes Canter, she canters. If she sees something that worries her, she stops and asks me to look. A long rein and ambling along does not mean there is no on-going communication between horse and rider. '
Sometimes the horses that look easy or look not to be being ridden well are the ones we have taught well and are just doing their job which in her case is to go safely on and make me happy.
 

palo1

Well-Known Member
Joined
27 July 2012
Messages
4,714
I had an interesting chat with a neighbour who told me as she was "just a happy hacker" she didn't need to spend money on lessons. I have seen her out on the lanes and she is a complete passenger, pony slopping along on long reins at a snail's pace (you know the sort). I think hacking is potentially one of the most dangerous activities we do as riders but I held my tongue. What do others think?
This is a tricky one I think and reveals something of a gulf culturally between 'competitive' riders and 'happy hackers'...There often seems to be a sense of that happy hacker lacking knowledge and skill in riding tbh and the term 'happy hacker' has become synonymous with a set of values and attitudes that are perhaps not seen as high status in terms of horsemanship etc. Yet at the same time there is an understanding that a safe hacking horse is valuable and that a degree of skill is needed to hack out in the UK! There are so many issues that could be brought into the discussion; the value of working horses 'correctly' being one.

It is kind of interesting because generally in the UK (and other places) this is seen to be in a horse's best interest yet that is not universally the case in wider horse cultures. A rider 'slopping along' is a bit of a throwback to our more military equestrian training history where it was in fact pretty important for both parties to be switched on and mentally and physically 'ready' for a range of things. Indeed that horse may well be on the forehand in a way that is both inefficient and even possibly detrimental. The rider may well be totally a passenger. BUT, and I say this as someone who enjoys both structured training and hacking out, is being a passenger on a willing and able horse a problem? The horse knows the job, the rider is using that horse for relaxing; there is no worse a deal there than the horse that is highly trained as a skilled athletic partner in jumping or dressage perhaps? That too will be causing stresses and strains on the horse though the rider in that instance, far from being a passenger is acting quite forcefully on the horse (in terms of training and in riding).

I don't know what to think though I personally believe that just sitting on a horse in order to view the countryside is not in itself indicative of horsemanship which is something I value. For others, maybe that is not the case and a horse is just a nicer version of a push-bike. If the horse is happy and well looked after and the rider is happy I can't see any problem at all; it really is no worse than many other situations that involve a high level of training for me though personally I prefer a bit 'more' than what you have described. Tis thought provoking though!!
 

palo1

Well-Known Member
Joined
27 July 2012
Messages
4,714
I am a happy hacker. I count off the days till I will be back on the mare and living the dream.
You are right that hacking is higher risk than being in the school. My first hacks on the mare, I kept contact, and leg on, just as you would like this lady to do.
But then one sunny day, I lengthened the rein and the mare was ever so happy. She looked around her at everything, the view, the people, the birds. If I lift the reins, she trots, if I say, Yes Canter, she canters. If she sees something that worries her, she stops and asks me to look. A long rein and ambling along does not mean there is no on-going communication between horse and rider. '
Sometimes the horses that look easy or look not to be being ridden well are the ones we have taught well and are just doing their job which in her case is to go safely on and make me happy.
Yes; how lovely that you have such a great understanding with your horse and can enjoy all that together. :)
 

Birker2020

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 January 2021
Messages
3,856
I had an interesting chat with a neighbour who told me as she was "just a happy hacker" she didn't need to spend money on lessons. I have seen her out on the lanes and she is a complete passenger, pony slopping along on long reins at a snail's pace (you know the sort). I think hacking is potentially one of the most dangerous activities we do as riders but I held my tongue. What do others think?
I'd be more concerned whether she had hi viz on than what lessons she may or may not need.
You are correct to be concerned about the lackadaisical approach but very little you can do. I'm sure people have felt the same about me given that I take video footage or photos when hacking but I was always aware of my surroundings and environment at the time and in 30 years of owning/loaning, never come off on the roads.
 

ponynutz

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 December 2018
Messages
507
I think it's similar to a working dog and a pet dog. A working dog needs to be so switched on to their owner's commands to do the job the owner needs them to do.

A pet dog needs to be switched on enough to sit, stay, come back, and move if the owner so wishes in order to keep them and others safe on walks.

Both parties have equal knowledge of dogs especially owners of working dogs who aren't used as working dogs (i.e. the owner of a border collie needs to know border collies as a breed inside out to be the owner of one but does not need to know how to train it to be a working dog).

There is a sense of being more chilled on a dog walk than working in the field (whatever that may be) but dog and owner are both aware and listening to each other.

Exchange dog walk for hack and working dog for competition horse. Rider and horse can be more chill on hacks but are switched on enough to be safe.
I personally often ride on the buckle on specific parts of my hacks because I know where my pony is likely to spook and that she likes to look around (she enjoys hacking now as much as me). But I am still aware enough to pick up the reins and if it's for a valid reason she'll come back and immediately listen to me. I can stop and start and steer using just my seat and legs as well just in case the worst happens. That being said she does fight me sometimes for example if I decide I want to do a bit of flatwork on quiet parts of the hack she'll tell me off and say, 'Mum I don't want to work' but if it's important... she'll listen. I don't know how she knows the difference but she does.
 

palo1

Well-Known Member
Joined
27 July 2012
Messages
4,714
I think it's similar to a working dog and a pet dog. A working dog needs to be so switched on to their owner's commands to do the job the owner needs them to do.

A pet dog needs to be switched on enough to sit, stay, come back, and move if the owner so wishes in order to keep them and others safe on walks.

Both parties have equal knowledge of dogs especially owners of working dogs who aren't used as working dogs (i.e. the owner of a border collie needs to know border collies as a breed inside out to be the owner of one but does not need to know how to train it to be a working dog).

There is a sense of being more chilled on a dog walk than working in the field (whatever that may be) but dog and owner are both aware and listening to each other.

Exchange dog walk for hack and working dog for competition horse. Rider and horse can be more chill on hacks but are switched on enough to be safe.
I personally often ride on the buckle on specific parts of my hacks because I know where my pony is likely to spook and that she likes to look around (she enjoys hacking now as much as me). But I am still aware enough to pick up the reins and if it's for a valid reason she'll come back and immediately listen to me. I can stop and start and steer using just my seat and legs as well just in case the worst happens. That being said she does fight me sometimes for example if I decide I want to do a bit of flatwork on quiet parts of the hack she'll tell me off and say, 'Mum I don't want to work' but if it's important... she'll listen. I don't know how she knows the difference but she does.
Yes, this is an interesting comparison. We have working and pet dogs; the workers have specific, quite highly skilled jobs to do (sheepdogs) and they work hard to do them. They have the skills they need at a reasonably high level but don't get to go on 'walks' - nor would they particularly understand or enjoy that I don't think as they are quite highly driven and would wonder why on earth we were just wandering about without any sheep to work lol. The pet dog is probably not as fit, certainly has different skills (sitting nicely at a cafe or in the office is not in the working dogs' skill set lol) but I wouldn't see one as being 'worse' or having a less important role as the other. Nor would I think it wrong to just have a pet dog that isn't at peak fitness and training or athleticism tbh. As long as horse/dog/other is well looked after I am not sure much else is really relevant to anyone else.
 

The Fuzzy Furry

Resident irriot
Joined
24 November 2010
Messages
24,951
Location
The yard, home or coal face.....
Oldie, if you had met me this morning, I was pootling back on a loose rein having had a lovely 6 mile hack and you might well have thought the same (all off public roads, yes wearing hi viz). B had been brushed but not thoroughly.....

I love getting out and about hacking on my own or with friends, but equally we can scrub up and go to RC for low key comps or training, I've done my days at higher levels now.
I'm sometimes in demand as a companion to others when they get new horses, mainly due to mine being under control and me not reacting to stuff going on. Together we are a Jack of all trades but master of none...

Am I happy? Yes. Am I a hacker? Yes to that too.
 

Birker2020

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 January 2021
Messages
3,856
Oldie, if you had met me this morning, I was pootling back on a loose rein having had a lovely 6 mile hack and you might well have thought the same (all off public roads, yes wearing hi viz). B had been brushed but not thoroughly.....

I love getting out and about hacking on my own or with friends, but equally we can scrub up and go to RC for low key comps or training, I've done my days at higher levels now.
I'm sometimes in demand as a companion to others when they get new horses, mainly due to mine being under control and me not reacting to stuff going on. Together we are a Jack of all trades but master of none...

Am I happy? Yes. Am I a hacker? Yes to that too.
That is one thing I miss about Bailey. Brilliant hacking.
The day after I bought her home, all those years back (2004) we went for a hack on our own. It was a Friday and I had the day off work, we went out buckle rein, she was lovely, I trusted her 100% right from the word go. We got lost and pootled around for 1 1/2 hrs.

What I wouldn't give to go on a hack now. I am actually crying writing this.
 

scats

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 September 2007
Messages
7,720
If you saw me hacking out on Millie, I’m mostly on a longer rein because if you pick her up when out and about, she gets nervous and tense. She’s far better and more chilled this way. I know I can get myself together in a millisecond if need be and Im always aware of what’s going on around me. Far more than I perhaps look.
Looks can be deceiving sometimes!
 

Tarragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
31 January 2018
Messages
1,378
I am a happy hacker, though I hate that term as it has so many negative connotations associated with it.
I don't compete or show and I keep my hairy native ponies out at grass.
But - I do like to think that I have good standards of management and I want to ride well, so I do have lessons.
I think that providing the horse is well cared for, healthy and trained to the level it needs to be at to do what is required, and the rider is sympathetic to the horse, balanced and can ride to the level they need to be at to do what is required, then that is ok.
The partnership mentioned in the OP seem to have come to a mutually agreeable arrangement, with both happily working at a level that suits them both, with no detriment to either.
Where it goes wrong is where there is a mismatch, with the rider riding above their abilities, whether it be over-horsed, or attempting to do something they aren't able to (e.g. jumping and yanking the horse's mouth on every occasion)
 

Bernster

Well-Known Member
Joined
14 August 2011
Messages
7,346
Location
London
I don’t like the negative connotations that some people have happy ‘happy hackers’. In a lot of ways you need more confidence and bravery to handle whatever hacking can throw at you than in the more structured and controlled arena environment. I know very competent riders who seem scared to ride their horses out, so they stay in the school. People shouldn’t underestimate the value of a good safe hacking horse!

PS not saying you think less of HH OP, just a general comment.
 
Last edited:

Skib

Well-Known Member
Joined
6 March 2011
Messages
1,266
Location
London
that just sitting on a horse in order to view the countryside is not in itself indicative of horsemanship which is something I value.
Sitting on a horse to view the countryside is very important to me, as a historian. Stately homes and their estates were designed to be seen from horseback height. It is the elevation. I used to ride near a stately home and a friend who worked for the V & A explained this to me. These days, I do have a spot where I halt to survey the Parkland.
 

oldie48

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 April 2013
Messages
6,670
Location
South Worcestershire
Sorry I clearly didn't make myself clear. I have no intention of telling her what to do, my question was more about how lessons inform your ability to hack safely. Also, I think hacking is a perfectly good discipline in it's own right, I have always hacked. I have absolutely no negative connotations with regard to the term "happy hacker" that was her description but some riders do worry me. They are doing first cut silaging ATM and we have huge tractors racing along the lanes but as others have said, it's none of my business!
 
Top