Take your training out of the arena with event rider Coral Keen’s simple hacking exercises
Riding out makes a nice change from the routine of working or jumping in the arena. Building your horse’s confidence and his trust in you is a gradual process. The more often you can take your horse to a new place and work him in the same methodical way that you do at home, the more confident he will become and the more secure your partnership will feel. Hacking is a brilliant way to build this trust and confidence together.
I’m extremely lucky to have access to the chalk hills of Salisbury Plain. My philosophy with horses and schooling doesn’t change because I’m out on the plain. I work methodically and avoid surprising the horses, no matter where I am, whether it’s training at home, preparing for a lesson or warming up for a competition. I try to keep everything I do with them really black and white, keeping my body language relaxed and the message clear for the horses. It’s a simple thing but it really works.
It’s important to be disciplined and stick to your programme when riding out – you won’t progress with your training if all you do outside the arena is have a jolly.
Leg-yield on a circle
Leg-yield on a circle is a great way to help your horse focus and settle when you’re schooling out hacking. It’s also brilliant for developing his strength, power and suppleness.
Rather than allowing him to make the circle bigger and smaller by turning his body, encourage him to move away from your inside and outside leg to produce the spiral. Check he’s flexing at the poll and not offering you too much bend in his neck. You should be able to just see the inside of his eye and no more. If there’s too much neck bend, he will be more likely to lose balance and fall out through his shoulder, which will affect the quality of the exercise. The activity takes place as he moves away from your leg, staying straight and level while moving sideways.
It doesn’t matter if it takes you five circles to spiral in or out. With all lateral work, it’s not about the volume of steps or how far you can travel across the spirals, but the quality and correctness of the steps, and the maintenance of good balance and rhythm. If you and your horse find this easy, then add transitions within the pace to make it more challenging.
To discover the rest of Coral’s hacking exercises, pick up your copy of March Horse&Rider, on sale 12 January, buy your copy here