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5 Creative Ways to school out hacking.

Updated: May 29, 2023

I often get asked by clients about what they can do in between their lessons when they don't have anywhere to school, I am a great believer that we shouldn't be limited by our facilities, but it does mean that we have to be creative! So I have put together 5 of my favourite exercises for you to use out hacking!

1) Transitions - It may be difficult to practice your canter transitions if you only have roads and tracks to ride on, but you can practice your trot, walk and halt transitions. A great way to work with through this is to practice marking yourself out of 10, 10 is the best transition you could ride today (not a judges 10), and 1 is the worst, 8 or above is acceptable, if you get anything less than that - ask your self what needs to happen for it to be acceptable? Remember you are the only one that knows what a 10 is, so don't be too harsh on yourself!

2) Gear Changes - Riding transitions within the pace can be super effective for developing the elasticity in the pace, suppleness over the back and ground cover. This one is best in trot and canter if you have somewhere safe to do so. The aim of the game is to find 3 different trots, number 1 is your slow/preparation trot (the trot you might have just before walking) number 2 is your working trot and number 3 is your bigger trot, you will need to be the judge of how safe it is to how big of a trot you can do, but remember its not about developing a medium trot, its about developing subtle gears in the pace so as long as there is a difference it doesn't matter. See if you can make smooth changes up and down your gears without the horse anticipating.

3) Practice your sitting trot - Although not everyone's favourite it is always needing work! So why not practice doing short bursts of sitting trot whilst out hacking. Do just enough to find your balance then go rising again, doing it in short bursts can help develop you and your horse's strength, stamina and balance, without having to concentrate on everything else at the same time like you would have to in the school!

4) Flexion changes - This is a great one for testing your suppleness and straightness! Remember that flexion is just at the poll, so you only want to be able to see the horses eye in the direction your are flexing them - no more than that! As you are walking or trotting down the road or track, see if you can get the horse to flex in a given direction without loosing the straightness. Once you have nailed it one way, slowly change to the other direction and see if you can keep the horse between both legs without them wobbling off the line!

5) Rhythm counting - Rhythm is the first scale of training, and arguably the most important. Rhythm is the beats of the pace, and we want the beats of each pace to fall consistently.

Walk has 4 beats.

Trot has 2 beats.

Canter has 3.

When out hacking count the beats to see if you can keep them the same everywhere you go, whatever the terrain. For example if you are trotting along the road and you come to a hill, see if you maintain the same rhythm on the flat and up the hill, without the horse dropping off. Equally if you come to a down hill see if you can keep the same rhythm without speeding up, but remember your half halts so the horse can remain balanced!

Hacking on the whole is a great place to really home in on the fundamentals of schooling, there are many other things that can also be practiced but to start you off, keep it simple and do the basics world class!

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A Fantastic Blog and so many nuggets of Gold to work with anywhere anytime… ThAnK YoU and I will definitely be doing this 🌸🐴 x

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