Dragon-breathing season is upon us with the cold weather turning some ponies into spooky little mischief-makers. Understandably, this can lead you to becoming nervous out hacking and what used to be fun turns into something you dread. We have some simple steps to make your hack more enjoyable on the days your pony’s feeling extra fresh!
1. Phone a friend
Hacking out with someone else, whether they’re on foot or another pony, always helps to settle the nerves! You’ll have someone to follow if your pony isn’t brave enough to go past something scary and having someone to talk to will take your mind off anything you’re worried about, as well as encouraging you to breathe!
2. Same but different
If there’s a certain route you know your pony loves, there’s no harm in doing it on repeat. You could even do it in reverse, so it’s slightly different for you both. Save exploring somewhere new for another day when you have a friend to go with.
3. Stride on foot
Some ponies are more confident going past something scary when they’re following you on foot. Watching you walk past it helps him understand it isn’t going to eat him! Always wear your hat and gloves and pop his bridle on, so you have better control, and have an adult or your yard manager with you, too.
4. Keep to the arena
If there’s a certain object that you know will scare your pony out hacking, such as a dustbin, ask if you can pop the yard one in the school to show him. That way you’re in an environment where he feels safe, and you can take your time showing it to him both on foot and ridden.
5. Spin him around
Sometimes ponies act a little silly due to all the energy they have built up inside them or because it’s cold. Popping him on the lunge first will warm him up and help get rid of any unwanted energy before you get on board to leave the yard.
6. Short and sweet
Over-facing your pony on a hack he’s not enjoying can do more harm than good. If you have a tricky pony, start with small hacks around the block and praise him every time he passes something he’s not sure about. As his confidence grows, you can push the hack a little further out each time.
7. Out in the open
Scary bins aren’t always the demons you’ll face. Some ponies love the open common for going as fast as they can, while some can find it overwhelming. If this is the case, sticking to more sheltered bridleways or roads give your pony a sense of security – after all, hacking is meant to be fun for both of you!
8. Whatever the weather
Rain or shine, we equestrians tend to battle it out and ride anyway. This could, however, affect your pony. If the weather has been super-wet and the roads and bridleways are flooded, your pony might become worried about all the water. In this case, don’t force him to go out, as he might become worked up and that could cause him to refuse to go out in the future. Keep your outing for when it’s drier.