Just like you’d get bored if you had the same maths lesson every day, your pony gets bored if he does the same thing over and over, too. Mixing up his schedule with schooling and hacking keeps him feeling happy and interested in his work. The happier he is, the more fun you’ll have together!
Hacking is a useful way to show your pony new sights and sounds. If you only ever ride in the arena and then head to a show, he’s likely to get worried by things he hasn’t seen before. Taking him hacking means he’ll get used to lots of different things, which is good for his education.
Whether or not you have an arena to ride in, hacking is a great place to brush up on your schooling. Ponies are often more forward on a hack than they are in the arena, so use this to your advantage!
You can use trees as markers for transitions and ride circles around them or weave between them to perfect your bending. This is especially useful for ponies who aren’t the biggest fan of schooling – you’ll get the best out of him without him even realising that he’s being schooled!
When you ride in an arena, the surface is flat and even. But at competitions, you’ll often be riding in a field, which might be sloped or not have ideal footing. Hacking is a really useful tool to get your pony used to this and thinking about where he’s putting his feet, instead of just relying on having a perfect surface to ride on. It’s especially important to get him used to this if you’re planning on riding cross-country, as you’ll be going up and down hills, and over uneven ground.
Read more ways hacking helps your pony in December PONY magazine – on sale now!