top of page

Hill Hacking or Trail Riding

- When can I hack/trail ride around the farm?

You must have consistently ridden 10 times without any large gaps in your ride days. Hill work is hard work for the horses so you will need to make sure they are prepared for it. This means practicing ground or raised pole work, practicing transitions, patterns (serpentines, figure eights, squares), lateral work, rein back, etc. regularly during your arena rides. Ground poles help mimic hill inclines. You can also walk up and down the entrance/exit between the two arenas to add a little hill work gradually and walk along the grass between the two arenas. In order to trail ride you must also show you are communicating well with the horse and have an independent seat before going out around the farm for safety reasons. Some of our trails are narrow and you must be able to guide and maneuver the horse over to one side or another as well as control your horse in the company of another horse. There will be trees, branches, fallen logs, holes, uneven terrain, etc. that you must be able to guide your horse safely through or around. If you see a hole make certain to tell other riders so they can avoid the hole too. We often see deer, snakes and other creatures during our hacks, will most likely cross running water, and will ride up and down hills. This where supple-ing & lateral work - like a leg yield, turn on the haunches, or turn around the forehand - as well as LOTS of pole work and the rein back is SO important to be able to apply as you are dealing with different terrain out on the trail. It's vital to be able to maneuver ALL parts of your horse's body, for example, if there is a narrow trail between two trees. Remember, save some "gas in the tank" to do a few minutes of arena work a trail ride. Even if it's just a circle or two of walking or a couple ground poles or some walk-halt-rein back practice. You don't want to create a bad habit or a "barn sour" horse by getting off as soon as you arrive home. Be certain to allow some flex time after your trail ride or hand walk for this.

All hacks/trail rides around the property (out of direct sight of the barn) must be accompanied by Megan or Jessica. Also, for hacking we do not want to ruin our beautiful farm so we have to take into consideration footing and rain. If you are not yet approved or ready to ride around the farm, it would be good practice or transition from the arena to the hills to hand walk your horse around the farm. This is excellent practice for both rider and horse to get an idea of the terrain and how things are a bit different when you aren't enclosed in a flat arena. :) This is another fantastic way to improve the horse's fitness level without the additional weight of a rider as well.

We always recommend a 5-10 minute walk warm up in the arena before working outside to allow good communication and muscle warm up (ground poles, walk-halt-walk transitions, a few steps of shoulder-fore & leg yields, rein back, etc.) (see FAQ page for other warm up exercise ideas if needed)

  • PLEASE avoid all gravel and rock whether or not the horses have shoes on.

  • Please consider the moisture level grass when considering whether to hand walk, hand graze, or ride on the grass outside the arena. We usually do NOT go hacking/trail riding when the ground is saturated as to not rip and tear up the grass to maintain the long term "health" of our farm.

  • Hill work is hard work for the horses (think stair master at the gym!) so you will need to make sure they are prepared for it. This means practicing ground pole work, practicing transitions, patterns (serpentines, figure eights, squares), lateral work, rein back, etc. regularly during your arena rides. Ground poles help mimic hill inclines.

Once it starts getting dark early, the rain and cold starts we will be stuck in the arena more this winter, unfortunately. Cross training is great for both rider and horse physically and mentally!



5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page