Just a happy hacker??

Skib

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@oldie48 is good to be concerned for our safety. In normal times I would ride twice a week, alternating a hack with a lesson.

But you are right, I miss canter in the school and have been thinking of having some lessons.
However, going for school lessons post Covid lockdown (which I did try) involved mixing with people and my fav. old lesson horse has died. OH and I are over 80 and he is vulnerable. Life under Covid for anyone over 80 is risk management and compromise.
 

Horseysheepy

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I think I get what you mean OP, I know of a lady who rides very very loose reins on her pony mare who is very steady, but she's still a horse and anything could happen, particularly on modern day roads with cyclists and loose dogs and more traffic.

I do think it's a little like riding your car in neutral, you are not able to quickly gain control in a sudden situation, such as like Oldie says, a silageing gang on a mission or a dear leaping out of the hedge.

I overtook a girl riding very loose reins, one handed chatting on her phone, she didn't acknowledge that I had passed her carefully. I wondered if her horse was to spook, there was potential for her horse to slam into the side of my car or worse, run head on into an oncoming vehicle.
I don't think she would've been on the ball enough to have controlled such a situation....maybe she would! But on the modern lanes and roads of around me, id want to have my wits about me a bit more.
 

Smoky 2022

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no horse is 100 percent bombproof they are pray animals at the end of day . So technically speaking all horse are spooky Some more than others. All horse are born like this regardless of temperament .
 

Pearlsasinger

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no horse is 100 percent bombproof they are pray animals at the end of day . So technically speaking all horse are spooky Some more than others. All horse are born like this regardless of temperament .

Well they are actually *prey* animals but some are much less spooky than others, depending on their temperament and their previous experiences. Our first horse (a gelding) had been used to driving on Blackpool's Golden Mile. The only thing that ever, in all the time that we had him, made him jump was a steam jet coming out of a mill wall. That has long since been decommissioned, so if he were still around, he wouldn't be at all likely to spook at anything.
 

Soap On A Rope

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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?
How very dare you !!!
If the lady and her horse are happy doing what they are doing , what gives you the right to get involved !!!!!
 

Caol Ila

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I know a lot of unhappy hackers. Despite the epic hacking accessible from my yard, only about half the liveries make any use of it. If that. Lots of people are a lot happier in the arena. Everyone is aware that if things go wrong on a hack, they can go very wrong.

Letting my horse slop along on long reins is kind of a Russian Roulette game. Often, he's completely fine. Sometimes, he takes a sudden fright at something and does 0-60 at a speed that would make Jeremy Clarkson happy. He's not the fastest horse flat-out, but he's got a ton of torque. However, he either stops before you've collected reins, or he stops shortly thereafter.

I sometimes ride a friend's horse, and I am mostly sure that he won't do that, so you can let him slop along with far more confidence. After my old horse went from young and dumb to old and wise, you could trust her on a long rein. If she was going to spook at something, you'd have more than enough warning to take up rein.

Maybe the OP's neighbour is too naive to appreciate how quickly hacking can go wrong. Maybe she has a lovely a horse and a great, trusting relationship with it. Who are we to judge?
 

luckyoldme

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I can't help but think that out there somewhere is a person who is doing her own thing and minding her own business who really would be very upset to read this thread.
I was one of those types too op. I had 10 blissful years plodding around on my horse and kissing his nose. If thats a problem to anyone else then thats their problem.
 

Ratface

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I've given up hacking round our lovely countryside, due to the increase in diabolically dangerous car drivers. Old Horse is a bit of a flounce-merchant, but knows when to dial it down and is as safe as possible for a prey animal in potentially dangerous surroundings. I stick to our woods, tracks and less than perfect sandschool, but at least I can still scramble aboard and enjoy what we can do together.
 

Peglo

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Think I understand the post. But of course it depends on the horse. My old haffie never spooked or really even looked at anything. 100% in traffic. She hated to be ridden with any contact so it was loose reins and very relaxing. I felt very safe hacking her, she was solid.

however I wouldn’t ride my new one like that. She can have a look at things, occasionally has a wee jump, isn’t totally sure on traffic yet and has on one occasion spun and ran (but didn’t go far before she stopped) I ride with much more attention.

hopefully your neighbours pony looks after her well. But it is scary the amount of careless drivers on the road now. I think ‘happy hacker’ gives the impression of walking around with very little risk but I agree that a lot can go wrong and you should have a decent amount of skill to handle a leap to the side or a taking off scenario.
 

Tiddlypom

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I am beginning to think that that some posters just don't understand the concept of non-spooky horses!
There's no such thing, though some horses are naturally less spooky than others. Any horse might react unexpectedly to an external factor.

If you are sitting in good balance and are aware of your surroundings, you are much less likely to be unseated by a spook.

There was someone locally who was very like the rider who the OP is concerned about. Proud to declare that they had never had lessons, and trundled around in a slow walk slumped in a chair seat with loops for reins. They survived until the horse unexpectedly spooked and jumped at a drain cover - rider fell off and smashed themselves up with various broken bones.
 

scats

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I am beginning to think that that some posters just don't understand the concept of non-spooky horses!
My jumping pony spooked at one thing in 9 years. It was a mole hill in a field. It was so comical because I’d never seen her spook before. I never, ever had to worry about spooking, it just wasn’t on her radar! Wish they were all like that!
 

DirectorFury

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I spook at pheasants flying out but pony never does.
<raises hand> I am also spookier than my horse, and her version of a spook is to stop, somehow drop about 2 foot, and then carry on like nothing happened! It jars your back something awful but I’m pretty sure it’d be impossible to fall off of :p.
 

sbloom

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I saddle fit for a lot of happy hackers and as long as they're safe and under control then no problem. I've not read the thread but what I would say is that there is a bit of a problem with some I see out on the roads, but it's probably as likely to apply to all riders, is the rider and saddle hanging off to one side with no clue. I even see wonky motorcyclists regularly - now the latter doesn't cause pain to the bike, but wonky riders, especially if they are slumped, are pretty bad for horses. And another problem would be the person saying they don't need a well fitting saddle because they only hack - walking for miles especially is VERY hard on the horse's back if the saddle isn't right (as there's no instrinsic lift whatsoever).
 

TheHairyOne

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I have an older super happy hacking horse (who also does a bit of everything else) and he has had a few sharers over the years he has taught a lot too.

There is a difference between sitting on a horse and 'riding' and that doesnt mean you have to perfect, but imo to be safe hacking you need a reasonable seat (to sit the unexpected) and to be able to take control if required.

This means the new sharers get to go in the school to start with, then they can do our totally enclosed yard field boundaries in company and then alone, then (if they are safe enough) get to go out om the roads, in company (to check road sense) and only then alone.

Have had one sharerer who in 6 months and a fair few lessons never got to go out and about hacking as I just didnt think they were safe enough. Was asked a lot. The horse then did a minor injury and at that point it was a good enough excuse to end the share with them.

They then tried to ride 3 other horses on the yard. One she fell off just cantering around the corner in the school. The second she fell off trotting in the field at a deer. The 3rd came back from a hack out without her (which was an ambulance job for her, horse was luckily fine and her injuries werent serious). Shows how good my horse really is, but also that the decision to not let her out with the general public was totally the right one.

So yes, it really does depend on the horse, but I think there is a level of basics which really should be in place for everyones safety.
 

oldie48

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I have an older super happy hacking horse (who also does a bit of everything else) and he has had a few sharers over the years he has taught a lot too.

There is a difference between sitting on a horse and 'riding' and that doesnt mean you have to perfect, but imo to be safe hacking you need a reasonable seat (to sit the unexpected) and to be able to take control if required.

This means the new sharers get to go in the school to start with, then they can do our totally enclosed yard field boundaries in company and then alone, then (if they are safe enough) get to go out om the roads, in company (to check road sense) and only then alone.

Have had one sharerer who in 6 months and a fair few lessons never got to go out and about hacking as I just didnt think they were safe enough. Was asked a lot. The horse then did a minor injury and at that point it was a good enough excuse to end the share with them.

They then tried to ride 3 other horses on the yard. One she fell off just cantering around the corner in the school. The second she fell off trotting in the field at a deer. The 3rd came back from a hack out without her (which was an ambulance job for her, horse was luckily fine and her injuries werent serious). Shows how good my horse really is, but also that the decision to not let her out with the general public was totally the right one.

So yes, it really does depend on the horse, but I think there is a level of basics which really should be in place for everyones safety.
Thanks for this, you have put my thoughts into words perfectly.
 

Pearlsasinger

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There's no such thing, though some horses are naturally less spooky than others. Any horse might react unexpectedly to an external factor.

If you are sitting in good balance and are aware of your surroundings, you are much less likely to be unseated by a spook.

There was someone locally who was very like the rider who the OP is concerned about. Proud to declare that they had never had lessons, and trundled around in a slow walk slumped in a chair seat with loops for reins. They survived until the horse unexpectedly spooked and jumped at a drain cover - rider fell off and smashed themselves up with various broken bones.

I must admit that sometimes my mind boggles at the descriptions, on here of 'spooks' that have riders off the horse but I can assure you that there are plenty of horses around that are highly unlikely to do more than jump on the spot if something startles them and even less likely to be frightened by big traffic/bikes/anything much.
I know because, after an unpleasant experience hacking on the road, I have been very careful to buy horses that won't be likely to be jumping around in traffic - and I have had several.
When I viewed the cob as a 2 yr old, we walked through the town centre on a Saturday afternoon, she walked happily past someone power-washing their car on the road side, washing hanging out where we turned her round, all kinds of traffic, including double decker buses, dogs barking at her through a gate and a Landy pulling a trailer with rattly garden equipment, without turning a hair. Needless to say, I bought her.
OP's neighbour doesn't seem to have a problem that causes her to fall off, perhaps she just does have a super sensible horse.
 

RachelFerd

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I must admit that sometimes my mind boggles at the descriptions, on here of 'spooks' that have riders off the horse but I can assure you that there are plenty of horses around that are highly unlikely to do more than jump on the spot if something startles them and even less likely to be frightened by big traffic/bikes/anything much.
I know because, after an unpleasant experience hacking on the road, I have been very careful to buy horses that won't be likely to be jumping around in traffic - and I have had several.
When I viewed the cob as a 2 yr old, we walked through the town centre on a Saturday afternoon, she walked happily past someone power-washing their car on the road side, washing hanging out where we turned her round, all kinds of traffic, including double decker buses, dogs barking at her through a gate and a Landy pulling a trailer with rattly garden equipment, without turning a hair. Needless to say, I bought her.
OP's neighbour doesn't seem to have a problem that causes her to fall off, perhaps she just does have a super sensible horse.
I was working a riding school leading a hack on a totally beginner safe fatso cob. The type that barely breathes, let alone spooks. He was stung by a wasp while I was leading a hack, took off in canter and kept bucking until the girth snapped and went sailing around a major public park loose. No horse is 100% safe.
 

palo1

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I was working a riding school leading a hack on a totally beginner safe fatso cob. The type that barely breathes, let alone spooks. He was stung by a wasp while I was leading a hack, took off in canter and kept bucking until the girth snapped and went sailing around a major public park loose. No horse is 100% safe.
I have been thinking about this thread a bit. I guess there are definitely people who are not particularly engaged or interested in the horsemanship/riding skill aspect of horses; maybe they want to enjoy the countryside and other things that go with horse ownership or 'riding' - I guess everyone is different but it also seems odd and definitely slightly dangerous for people to not check in for an occasional lesson/coaching; if you are going to all the trouble and expense of keeping a horse surely it makes sense to ensure that you are riding at the very least sympathetically? Maybe I am vain but I am proud of working away at elements of riding when I am hacking and love the idea that my hacking is kind of cerebral for me (and sometimes for the horses too). We all get into bad habits/compensatory postures and actions and a lesson once in a while at least can help to reduce the impact of those things. It can also provide real inspiration for people like me who are not competing but still really motivated to develop and train with limited resources, as well as provide feedback about physical issues for both horse and human. Lessons are a bit of a no-brainer surely if you are either riding on the public highway (and therefore have a responsibility to other road users) or you want to keep on top of minor bad habits/physical stuff?

There is a comparison with driving; you can have passed your test years ago and got into all sorts of dangerous/lazy/inefficient driving habits which make you something of a liablity on the roads but I guess at least everyone has to pass a test in the first place! A 'riding test' for hacking out would probably be a good thing but then I also think people should have dog and horse licences so I am probably well out of touch...
 

Errin Paddywack

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I think from the sound of it that the problem with this particular person is that she is blissfully unaware of how little she knows and what could potentially go wrong. When I worked at a RS back in the 60's I was taking a hack out one day and a woman fell off. The horse she was riding was a lazy cob who was about as bombproof as they came. All he did was lurch as he went into canter and she went straight over his shoulder, hurt her neck and had to have an ambulance, not badly hurt I am relieved to say. She was a floppy, uncoordinated sort of person who quite frankly was a danger to herself. Thankfully I don't think she ever rode again, definitely not with us anyway.
 

holeymoley

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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.
This is me too. I don't like the pressure of shows and getting titivated up to be judged by someone's opinion out showing or whatever. And nor does my horse. So we hack. The bond, trust and skill we have is no different from those that choose to jump or go cross country etc etc There still needs to an element of training and obedience. So I do see where OP is coming from to an extent, I've seen people riding on main roads with not a clue about hazard perception or even being in control of their horse. It shouldn't really be a case of folk bumbling along because they aren't willing to learn or show respect to others- and to me if your slacking humphed over on a long rein on a road with others around you then you're not in control of the half a tonne under you.
 

Old school

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The original post appears well intended but has a strong judgemental tone to it. That is what raised my heckles. I am no super star but I try my best to work on my riding and have safe mounts. Someone could easily observe me and pass the same judgement. The lady hacking is probably aware that her riding could with a bit of tuition but is a little defensive on the topic. But, you may have given her food for thought and she might surprise you .... and have booked a lesson in the meantime. Please let us know if that happens.
 

oldie48

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The original post appears well intended but has a strong judgemental tone to it. That is what raised my heckles. I am no super star but I try my best to work on my riding and have safe mounts. Someone could easily observe me and pass the same judgement. The lady hacking is probably aware that her riding could with a bit of tuition but is a little defensive on the topic. But, you may have given her food for thought and she might surprise you .... and have booked a lesson in the meantime. Please let us know if that happens.
Yes I can see how my OP might appear judgemental, it wasn't my intention. I had been thinking about the two posts (how do you make a good hacking horse/ injured man suing the dog owner) and the conversation with my neighbour popped into my head. I got thinking about the part a rider plays in keeping herself and horse safe on the roads/out hacking. The post was dashed off quickly as I was going out and clearly it got quite a few people annoyed. Not my intention at all as I wanted to start a discussion about what skills we should have to keep ourselves safe. fwiw, I don't think any horse is 100% bomb proof or spook proof but even if some were, I feel being able to react to a situation of potential danger quickly and as safely as possible is still something we should consider and be ready to do. Sorry to be a bit "dog with boneish" but as someone who hacks regularly and has always hacked out, I'm well aware of the dangers. Apologies to those I have annoyed!
 

Pinkvboots

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I do hack but avoid the roads as my horses spook a lot and I like to be safe, I tend to ride the same as I would in the school as I have to have my wits about me as both of my horses are sharp there Arab's its just what they do.

I do ride on a long rein at times but I pick my moments and it's not normally for long.
 

TheresaW

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I miss hacking so much. Dolly is retired now, Max may or may not come back into work, and Ollie is out loan. (Loaner has said I can go and ride him whenever I want, will see).

Have had so much fun with Dolly over the years. She was the sort I could hack down the middle of the M1 and she wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the traffic. Rubbish in the hedge, would have been under a lorry!
 

HashRouge

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I was working a riding school leading a hack on a totally beginner safe fatso cob. The type that barely breathes, let alone spooks. He was stung by a wasp while I was leading a hack, took off in canter and kept bucking until the girth snapped and went sailing around a major public park loose. No horse is 100% safe.
But in this scenario it would have been impossible for anyone to stay on, so it doesn't really prove the point that you need to have lessons/ not ride with long reins to hack safely. I also wouldn't count this as spooking anyway. I'd equate it more to being hit by a car in that it's a freak accident that the rider couldn't prevent or do anything about (obviously talking about cases where the car driver is at fault!).
 
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