A day hack brings with it a sense of freedom and adventure, combined with the anticipation of making memories with your best friend. In order for you to have a good experience we have gathered some tips for you to think about before, during and after the day hack. Have a great trip.
1. Getting prepared for the day hack
Long-term preparation could include working up to longer rides to develop your horse’s fitness, and yours. How much physical preparation your horse will need will depend on several factors, like its previous fitness and breed.
As with anything, take it slow to begin with and assess your horse. You may start with as little as a twenty-minute hack and slowly build this up, perhaps every other day. How far you go to begin with will depend on your terrain, the climate, your own personal fitness and schedule, as well as what your horse is telling you.
Something else to consider is desensitisation. This could be things like plastics, water, or vehicles. Other triggers can be shiny drink cans in hedges, or other animals you may encounter. If you are not already working on familiarizing your horse with the many elements you may encounter outside the stable – now is a good time to start.
You can read more about some of the things that can be really scary to your horse – and how to deal with them: Top 10: Dangerous things seen through your horse’s eyes.
2. Planning is important
Make sure you plan your route. One crucial point is opportunities for the horses to drink. Other factors to consider:
- What’s available in your area, e.g. picnic areas, streams for water stops.
- What needs avoiding, e.g. busy roads.
- How saddle fit you and your group are.
- Fitness of your horses.
3. On the day of the hack
Ensure your horse is calm and relaxed. If you sense he is not feeling his best, it is prudent to reschedule. Help him feel calm by exuding the feeling yourself. Stick to your usual routine and take your time tacking up.
4. Packing for you
Depending on your climate, things to pack are sunglasses, raincoat, or waterproofs. You should also bring along a a wind breaker for when it whips up out of nowhere. This can freally eel like a lifesaver. In your first aid kit, having sunscreen is important, as is lip balm. Do not forget snacks, picnic lunch, and lots of water.
5. Packing for your horse
Attach a lead rope to the saddle to safely tie up at lunch time or lead your horse out from any sticky situation you may find yourself in! A comfortable head collar is important too. Fly spray is good to have for topping up, if that is relevant to your area. A hoof pick is important to have with you, or a spare hoof boot if your horse is not traditionally shoed.
6. In the saddle
Once you are out on your hack, it is important to continually monitor your horse. This will determine how long you should ride for at a time. Check in regularly. Take short breaks on a long incline, or just after. This gives the horse the chance to catch its breath before continuing. It is also important to feel if it is hoof sore at all and might need checking.
You may also like to read: Field time: How many kilometers do horses walk every day?
7. On returning
When you get back, if you have been doing some hot work, it can be a good idea to not let the horse eat or drink until it has cooled down. This can help avoid colic. Some horses like to get an apple when they get back and do not hesitate to remind their owner if it takes too long.
You may like to wash your horse down to refresh it, although this will depend on your weather. Giving it a brush down will help remove any sweat and dirt build up. It also gives you the opportunity to check for any sores or scratches.
Maybe the next day you could give them a light lunge to stretch out any sore muscles. You may like to look at some online videos for equestrian yoga to help you stretch your own muscles too.
What tips for a successful day hack do you swear by? Let us know on our Facebook page.