Taking your horse out on hacks is very important for not only their mind but also yours. Hacking does not necessarily mean ” day off” or light work. It can be extensive and used to help build your horses muscles whilst going up and down hill/dunes and to strengthen their hooves as you are walking on a variety of terrain.
As mentioned in other posts, my horse is barefoot. His hooves got stronger from walking on the different roads and asphalts from stoney, to concrete to sand. When he was first barefoot he used to limp through and be extra careful. I never went for too long on these roads as I am sure it’s uncomfortable when they’re first removed of shoes. However, with time, his hooves got stronger and stronger and our hacks can go for more than an hour, depending on the weather. The amazing thing about horse hooves is that they adapt so quickly to their environment. Be sure not so push your horse though so they don’t get foot sore or lame.
Hacking hours for here, Dubai, are mostly sunrise and sunset, which is when the weather is at it’s best for riding. You can hack alone if your horse is confident. If not, then I would suggest hacking with another horse and rider that you know for a fact has a calm horse. If their horse is spooky out on the trails then most likely, your horse will spook too.
I know this is hard to do but try to keep loose reins on your horse so they can relax. The more tense you are the more tense they will be. Now keeping a loose rein does not mean fully letting go. Always keep a contact.
If you have hills or dunes in your area try to go up and down them as much as possible in walk. This helps your horse use muscles that he doesn’t use in normal arena work. Therefore, it helps them build muscles especially for their back and hind legs. As i mentioned in a previous post, Tofino used to have a sore back. The more i hacked him up and down dunes, again only at a walk and sometimes a trot if it’s not too steep, helped him gain a lot of back muscle which relieves soreness in time.
When your horse gets used to the trails and walking outside, then you can possibly try going bareback. This also helps them especially if you have an ill fitting saddle. It’s good to give them a break in that sense. However, again, always remember to keep a contact.
Things to remember:
- Always wear a helmet!
- Always keep a contact with the reins
- Wear reflective gear (for you or your horse)
- Always carry your phone
- Make sure at least somebody knows you went for a hack
- Always use tendon and fetlock boots on your horse
- Take your time
- Stay relaxed and calm
- Always carry a whip incase wild dogs or a stranger try to harm you
- Only canter/gallop your horse if the ground is good (never on deep sand)
- Walk/trot up dunes to help build muscles
- Avoid highways/ main roads
- Hack at least once or twice a week
Happy hackings 🙂 !