Going for a fun hack is one of the most exciting things you can do with your fave pony. But if he’s super-spooky, develops a habit of turning for home sooner than you want to, or even refuses to leave the yard at all, it can make you worry about riding instead of looking forward to it. The good news is there are loads of things you can do to encourage your pony to love hacking as much as you do!
A common hacking problem is napping, which is when your pony doesn’t want to go forward. He might stop and refuse to move, turn towards home or step backwards. In extreme cases, he might rear or reverse at high speed.
First things first
The first thing to do is call your vet, so he can give your pony a thorough check-up, which should include examining his back and teeth.
To make sure your pony’s tack isn’t causing the problem, book a visit from a qualified saddle fitter. Even if his saddle fitted last time it was checked, he could’ve changed shape due to losing or gaining weight or muscle. You should also ask someone experienced, such as your instructor, to check the fit of his bridle and bit, too.
Back to school
Spend some time in the school making sure your pony responds to your aids and goes forward when you ask him to. The best way to do this is to ride lots of transitions. Start in halt and ask him to walk on by giving him a gentle nudge with your legs. If he doesn’t go forward straightaway, give him a stronger squeeze. Keep practising until he goes forward politely from the smallest leg aid, then try some walk-trot transitions.
As well as making your pony more responsive, transitions can help keep him focused on you, too. So, try riding some while out hacking to take his mind off napping or spooking.
For more top tips on turning your pony into a happier hacker, pick up a copy of June PONY, on sale 8 May.