While many people do little or no hacking with their dressage horses, I believe that riding out is very important not just to the health and fitness of your horse but also is a fantastic way to strength your relationship with your equine partner.
I am very fortunate to have some of the best hacking in the world just out the front–and back–doors of the barn. I am also lucky to count Liz Bewley as one of my dearest friends. She has hacked and hunted countless horses and has been a huge help to Waimea and me with where to go, exactly how to condition, and also with recommendations of proper tack so that we have a fantastic experience.
Yesterday Waimea and I headed out to The Laurels Preserve with Liz and Janet. Although Mea had not been out since November, I could not have asked for her to be better. She is very bold and not spooky, but she clearly LOVED being back out and didn’t think that trotting up Twin Bridges Hill was work at all! She would gladly have trotted all the way up Nelson’s Hill if I had let her. The horses also saw several vehicles–cars and trucks–and crossed water, all safely and calmly.
Riding out in the open is such a great test of your skills and relationship with your horse. If you can hack out in company, at any gait, crossing water and bridges, jumping small obstacles and dealing with any number of distractions, like trucks, cars, dogs, baby strollers–even pigs!–you have gone a long way towards keeping your horse calm and focused as you come down the centerline.
Here’s to many more fabulous hacks this season, with my best friends, in my favorite place in the world–on the back of my mare, Waimea, in The Laurels Preserve!