Whether the thought of hacking puts you in a panic, or going for fast rides seems beyond your capabilities, sports psychologist, Debbie Percy can help
Hacking is as much a part of the horse and rider partnership as strawberries are at Wimbledon. Let’s be honest, we all love it – the freedom, the space, the sense of man and beast being one.
Hacking, there is nothing like it! Except, of course, when the thought of a hack leaves you trembling because your horse likes to demonstrate his near-perfect ability to turn about face and head for home faster than Red Rum.
Everyone can be confident on a hack. It’s a question of putting our minds to work. Remember the saying ‘there isn’t anything we can’t do, if we put our minds to it’? Well, confident hacking is just one of those things. Put your mind to it, and you and your horse can be confident and safe.
If you have a particular goal to achieve out hacking, maybe the courage to canter, then spend time during the days before you go out, visualising yourself doing the very thing you want to do.
Play over and over in your mind strong images of you enjoying the canter, see yourself ask for the canter and it happen, see yourself smile, and focus on asking for the trot at the end and calmly getting it.
The more you see what you want, the more you’ll expect to get it.
When visualising, it is important to make up a routine that works for you and focus on what you DO want and NOT on what you DON’T want – be sure to keep it simple.
In general, while out hacking, if you start to worry about your horse spooking at an object close by, try to do the following five actions…
What you see is what you get
- Always look beyond the object NOT at it
- Keep your mind busy by thinking useful thoughts such as ‘relax, breath, smile’
- Keep your hands and arms down and low
- Talk. Say a nursery rhyme out loud or talk to your friend to keep you breathing
- Using your imagination, see yourself passing by safely and without difficulty, smiling and calm.