Just a happy hacker??

nagblagger

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Oldie48, I don't think you need to apologise to anyone...well maybe for using the word 'just' in the title ;).

I like to think hacking is a skill like the other disciplines, with different dangers. Same amount of basic knowledge needed but then developed in a different way to reduce risks on the road. All riders use conscious and subconscious awareness of how your horse feels at that particular moment and adapt to the ever changing situation. My riding style although, not necessarily pretty, adapts to the horse i am riding, therefore hacking itself is a skill.

My mare is a happy hacker, not bombproof but work in progress, but i do know if i had a lesson on her in an arena 'for me to check-in to keep on top off my bad habits,' she would probably spend most of it on 2 legs, (due to her history). I accept that, and, as i don't like schooling or lessons we are well suited. I have also had a previous cob that sent 2 'professional' riders to hospital because 'proper riding ' in the arena, blew his brain. He was originally a field ornament given to me,due to him being dangerous (full disclosure) then i got on for a plod round the block and never looked back, did pleasure rides which he loved etc. but i did have to adapt my riding style completely, nothing could touch his sides or he would bronk, only stopping when you were thrown off. Some horses can not cope being schooled

It might be an age thing, when i was a child going out on hacks learning to ride was a lot more common than learning to ride in an arena.

And don't get me started on horse riders, both adults and children, on the road on their phones.....definite no no !
 

Fire sign

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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.
This really made me laugh - the fatso cob !!
 

Pearlsasinger

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I do much more hacking than anything else, schooling is done in the field here if not on a hack
and it is very rare for me to ride on the buckle end, I like to think that I am improving a horse's way of going on every ride but I did feel that OP was judgemental about her neighbour.
I also have lessons from time to time although not usually on my own horses but I certainly can see why the neighbour wouldn't want to avail herself of OP's offer to use her school for lessons. Why would she want to expose herself to a neighbour's judgmental overseeing?
 

ponynutz

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I think the point is that we don't know the skill level of this rider or what their situation is. So we shouldn't judge. We're assuming the worst when very possibly it's not the worst. Also person is an adult - it's just common sense that horses are unpredictable. If anything happens and they weren't prepared, that's on them. Just as a car crash would be.
 

fidleyspromise

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I don't have to ride on roads any more - my horse is an angel in all traffic.
Out hacking you're more likely to meet the unexpected - bags rustling, deer leaping across the track, pigeons suddenly darting in front of you, loose dogs, machinery in fields, impatient drivers whereas an arena is more static and things generally more predictable.
I do think there are more challenges out hacking (especially with my feisty beast).

I have noticed though that I need to be aware because I tend to rise on one diagonal/canter on same lead so while hacking is great lessons for me are a must to help me stay straight and keep my horse balanced and healthy.
If I did more arena work then I'd keep my horse more naturally balanced as I always payed attention to diagonal/canter lead and collecting/extending. The past few years of just hacking has been detrimental to my riding despite being able to sit a big spook.

Lessons/arena work and hacking both have their place.
 

Marigold4

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Maybe the subject of the original post is at the start of her horse journey. Unknown to you, she might be reading books, watching videos, consulting a forum for advice, reflecting on each ride and how it went and then how to do it better. Lessons aren't the only way to learn - maybe lessons are too expensive or daunting. When I first got a pony in the 70s, I didn't know how to ride. I got into lots of scrapes but neither I nor the pony came to any harm and we both learnt a lot and forged a great bond. Overall we had a very happy time together and I wouln't swap it for trotting in circles trying to get my horse into an "outline".
 

Haphazardhacker

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The way I see it, if they are happy there’s no problem.
I’m a happy hacker and when people ask what discipline I do I say “ah I’m just a happy hacker” but often I think to myself don’t down play it, be proud.
My horse is ex polo and has the legs to show for it, meaning we can only lightly hack, but we go for lovely walks, for miles and miles and she is happy, as am I. If I retired her she would go downhill as shes 22 and would stiffen up. I have no desire to have lessons, I trust her implicitly and know I can depend on her with whatever we meet out hacking. A lot of people I know, who do have a “proper” discipline and have lessons never leave the arena with their horses as they are just too hot headed and explode randomly. Happy hackers are worth their weight in gold and if horse and rider are happy then all is good.
 

scats

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To be honest, you’ve got to be far more capable to manage a horse out and about when hacking than you do in the confines of a sand pit. You’re far likely to encounter situations out of your control. I dislike the term ‘happy hacker’ as I feel it’s quite derogatory. Anyone could ride Millie in the school without much trouble, but you’ve got to have nerves of steel to take her on the roads!
I do think that taking the BHS riding and road safety is a good idea for people, though.
 

oldie48

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Scats, i also dislike the term "happy hacker" my OP included a "quote" and the title had two ?? but tbh I don't think many people actually read my post properly, just reacted to the "happy hacker" and assumed I was telling her she needed lessons but hey ho, life is just too short!! I did the BHS riding and road safety in the late 90's after my bad experience with the motor bike rally. It was really helpful and taught me things I hadn't realised as I'd only hacked out in a group with a lead rider before getting my own horse. I went on to train PC children and then to examine but I don't think many people bother taking it, which is a pity because the roads are getting busier and people are driving more quickly on narrow lanes. I think there's still a riding and road safety element to the pc C test. Tbh I'm a bit confused as to why some people make a distinction between people who hack and people who compete, we've always seen hacking as a normal and important part of a horse's education and life and pretty much everyone I know hacks out as part of their weekly routine and wouldn't dream of only riding in a school. It's also really difficult for most people to rehab a horse unless you can ride it safely on the road. It's can be really difficult to sell a horse or pony unless it is good in traffic and safe to hack out but I do understand that if people over horse themselves they may not want to venture out on the roads but that's a completely different issue.
 

Miss_Millie

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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!
My mare is the same - I ride her on a reasonably loose rein out hacking and she stretches her neck nice and low and relaxed. She would also be more tense if I hacked her with a stronger contact. We're mostly on the roads and see all sorts, I'm always alert to everything going on be it traffic, bikes, dogs, livestock etc, but she's the sort who is much happier and more chilled on a long rein :)
 

Pearlsasinger

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Scats, i also dislike the term "happy hacker" my OP included a "quote" and the title had two ?? but tbh I don't think many people actually read my post properly, just reacted to the "happy hacker" and assumed I was telling her she needed lessons but hey ho, life is just too short!! I did the BHS riding and road safety in the late 90's after my bad experience with the motor bike rally. It was really helpful and taught me things I hadn't realised as I'd only hacked out in a group with a lead rider before getting my own horse. I went on to train PC children and then to examine but I don't think many people bother taking it, which is a pity because the roads are getting busier and people are driving more quickly on narrow lanes. I think there's still a riding and road safety element to the pc C test. Tbh I'm a bit confused as to why some people make a distinction between people who hack and people who compete, we've always seen hacking as a normal and important part of a horse's education and life and pretty much everyone I know hacks out as part of their weekly routine and wouldn't dream of only riding in a school. It's also really difficult for most people to rehab a horse unless you can ride it safely on the road. It's can be really difficult to sell a horse or pony unless it is good in traffic and safe to hack out but I do understand that if people over horse themselves they may not want to venture out on the roads but that's a completely different issue.

I didn't particularly object to the term 'happy hacker' as I took it to be the phrase that your neighbour used to describe herself. My issue was that you appeared to think that because you ride 'quality' horses that are kept fit and are not always reliably sensible, especially around tractors, that your neighbour's horse would behave likewise, when that patently obviously is not the case.
 

oldie48

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I didn't particularly object to the term 'happy hacker' as I took it to be the phrase that your neighbour used to describe herself. My issue was that you appeared to think that because you ride 'quality' horses that are kept fit and are not always reliably sensible, especially around tractors, that your neighbour's horse would behave likewise, when that patently obviously is not the case.
I have no idea at all how you come to that conclusion and I think you are being extremely rude. I think you accused me of being judgemental, please look in the mirror!
 

Pearlsasinger

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I have no idea at all how you come to that conclusion and I think you are being extremely rude. I think you accused me of being judgemental, please look in the mirror!

I am sorry that you felt that I was being rude but, of course, I came to that conclusion from reading your OP and subsequent posts.
 

The Fuzzy Furry

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I didn't particularly object to the term 'happy hacker' as I took it to be the phrase that your neighbour used to describe herself. My issue was that you appeared to think that because you ride 'quality' horses that are kept fit and are not always reliably sensible, especially around tractors, that your neighbour's horse would behave likewise, when that patently obviously is not the case.
Pearl, take a chill pill, you've got very antsy and rude, not just in this thread. Oldie doesnt come across that way at all imho. Of course we can agree to disagree but can you stop the sniping, please?
 

scats

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Scats, i also dislike the term "happy hacker" my OP included a "quote" and the title had two ?? but tbh I don't think many people actually read my post properly, just reacted to the "happy hacker" and assumed I was telling her she needed lessons but hey ho, life is just too short!! I did the BHS riding and road safety in the late 90's after my bad experience with the motor bike rally. It was really helpful and taught me things I hadn't realised as I'd only hacked out in a group with a lead rider before getting my own horse. I went on to train PC children and then to examine but I don't think many people bother taking it, which is a pity because the roads are getting busier and people are driving more quickly on narrow lanes. I think there's still a riding and road safety element to the pc C test. Tbh I'm a bit confused as to why some people make a distinction between people who hack and people who compete, we've always seen hacking as a normal and important part of a horse's education and life and pretty much everyone I know hacks out as part of their weekly routine and wouldn't dream of only riding in a school. It's also really difficult for most people to rehab a horse unless you can ride it safely on the road. It's can be really difficult to sell a horse or pony unless it is good in traffic and safe to hack out but I do understand that if people over horse themselves they may not want to venture out on the roads but that's a completely different issue.
Sorry Oldie, I wasn’t getting at you for using the term happy hacker in your title. I just generally don’t like it as I feel it implies a sort of uselessness or level of riding that’s not as good as other peoples just because they prefer to hack out.
I agree with you about the hacking being a great part of everyday life for most horses. All mine hack and always have. Even the more reluctant learn to do it because I think it’s fantastic education wise.

I found my BHS riding and road safety really useful and it made me realise how little I knew about road riding when I was a teenager and left to my own devices to roam!
 

My_old_warmblood

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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?
I think it’s extremely rude to assume that because pony is going at a snail’s pace that the rider knows nothing.
I personally used to take lessons twice a week, compete, and still adequately school my horse at least once a week. I don’t take lessons as frequently now (every six months or so) because life got in the way.
pony and I are frequently seen plodding about, on the buckle, just having fun and mooching about. We still show occasionally, and enjoy a nice gallop, but I have a horse who is obedient and kind with a bad day once every now and again. I’d say your neighbour is probably a good enough rider if pony is still mooching about happily.
 

My_old_warmblood

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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.
Nothing about a relaxed horse and rider screams incompetence. Instead, she’s probably got herself a very pleasant hacker who takes care of her.
ive known plenty of well-trained riders to ride recklessly (cue flashbacks to watching the son of a riding instructor push his horse too far, then face-plant the ground) And dozens of happy hackers who can barely sit a canter but are good, sensible riders.
 

My_old_warmblood

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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.
I love this. Last year my saddle broke, and instead of rushing to buy one, pony and I were frequently spotted riding in His stable rug, just plodding around the village over a month or two. We got a new saddle in due time (yay me!) and pony was all the better for it.
 

My_old_warmblood

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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.
Same with my boy. He rides beautifully for a dressage test, but is voice trained out hacking. I csn ride hands free or on the buckle- he listens all the same to my voice and seat
 

tristar

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i think you can be too concerned with with controlling every move, that is for some areas of equestrianism and not for others

when i break a horse my priority is to get it to hack out on its own, now i take ages in prep, and make sure it is able to leg yield and is under control, i sometimes think the big test is when you get to that moment when the horse `tells`` you its safe to allow it to take the rein forwards and march along fully relaxed, to me it one of those moments of great success in the training of a horse
 

blitznbobs

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Meh - I ride my horse at medium dressage,have lessons galore and hack out on the buckle… he knows it’s his down time and is actually a lot less spooky cos he knows nothing is expected of him apart from to mooch with the odd snatch of cow parsley along the way… I can stick him in shoulder fore if he’s being pathetic about something but I rarely need to bother as he’s half asleep most of the time…
 

GinaGeo

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I was thinking about this thread today whilst out hacking. My horses do do other things, but I think it’s some of the more extreme hacking adventures we’ve done that have tested their resolve, training and trust in us.


Today we had boxed over to a new hack. They had to travel sensibly, and wait politely in a public car park whilst we got on board. I was navigating - so essential to be on a well mannered horse to allow map reading.

We started off down the trail and met the first of what would be hundred of gates. Some sticky, some need lifting. Some need pushing. Some needed baling twine untying and then retying. One had been crashed into and required him to wait patiently whilst I was on the ground manhandling bits of gate to make it safe to pass. And then cobbling it back up afterwards to keep the cattle safe. A good hacking horse needs to be able to deal with all gates.

Cattle. We must have ridden through about 800 on todays ride. Some followed us. Some crowded us. Some “chased” us. Some blocked gateways. My Connemara had to keep them away from us whilst I was wrestling with a gate. A whole herd followed us, close enough to touch. There were lots of sheep too - but they’re so normal to mine that they don’t even register them. 🤣

We found ourselves on a bike race trail. So had hundreds of bikes come past. From behind and in front. All the cyclists were great, but the horses need to expect one to come whizzing past. And the rider has to keep a good look out.
We had at least 30 trials bikes pass us. Most were great and stopped or slowed right down. But the horses have to deal with it without flicking an ear.

We covered over 22km. Variety of terrain, some really quite unlevel and rugged. A good hacking horse needs to know exactly where his feet are and learn how to read the ground. One of mine walked into a bog as a young horse. Sank upto his neck. He managed to scramble out, but he checks suspicious ground out now. If he says no, I trust that he’s keeping us safe.

They dealt with numerous cars, tractors and baling equipment. Pushchairs. Dogs barking at gates. Tents being put up.

We passed a banger car race, tannoys, engines and a huge amount of noise.

There were drones being flown, model aircrafts flying overhead as well as kites.


They need to be fit. They need to be conditioned. And you need to be able to ride on the buckle, because 4 hours is too long to be upto a contact.

I was scoping this ride out to take some friends and all of my horses. And whilst we had a fabulous time today with the two trustworthy steeds. I know that Pod wouldn’t be equipped to deal with it yet. And neither would mum’s pony. It wouldn’t be fair to put anyone in a situation where the riders and horses will be overwhelmed. We’ll go on a different ride. One that I know doesn’t have quite as many “hazards” to keep everyone safe.

I love hacking. Especially mapping new places and then going exploring. It’s an adventure into the unknown. But it really needs a good fit rider and a well trained horse that is able to stay with you regardless.

It takes a lot of work to train a really useful hacking horse. One that you can rely on as much as you can rely on a living animal.
 

My_old_warmblood

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i think you can be too concerned with with controlling every move, that is for some areas of equestrianism and not for others

when i break a horse my priority is to get it to hack out on its own, now i take ages in prep, and make sure it is able to leg yield and is under control, i sometimes think the big test is when you get to that moment when the horse `tells`` you its safe to allow it to take the rein forwards and march along fully relaxed, to me it one of those moments of great success in the training of a horse
Agreed. My horse’s best moments is when we’re working as a team, not a dictatorship
 

HashRouge

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It takes a lot of work to train a really useful hacking horse. One that you can rely on as much as you can rely on a living animal.
I do agree with you, but I do think it's worth noting that a) a lot of fabulous hacking horses come pre-trained by previous owners and b) some horses are just naturally unflappable and incredibly easy going, making the job of "training" them to be a good hack very easy indeed.
 
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