Once again I've seen the huge difference that hacking out can bring to a horse. Basse has been hacked out walking in the woods since the snow melted away, but he hasn't been allowed to canter properly for a long time (probably since last autumn when I last hacked out with him?) The difference between his way of working before and after being hacked out was nearly impossible to believe unless you witnessed it for yourself. Not only was there a massive change in his attitude to work, but also in the way that he moves (he was more through his back, and his hind legs moving a lot better, and were more underneath him)
|Uphill work ;)|
Hacking out has been a massive benefit to every single one of our four horses. Vallu, the most skittish, easily frightened and spooky horse has managed to calm down to a normal, happy horse within 6 months after being introduced to hacking out. Yes, there have been many scary situations, but I believe that being scared momentarily is more than worth it when your horse gets so many benefits from it. Not only is it better physically for your horse, it is also psychologically beneficial.
|In the middle of the woods|
|Going super fast ;)|
I think it's also incredibly important for yourself as a rider. I go crazy when I can't go out for a hack, and during the summer I try to go hacking as much as possible. Even during proper training session, I want to try to get either my warm up or cool down walk out in the woods rather than in the arena. There is nothing better than being surrounded by nature - especially Finnish woodland ;) - whilst spending some quality time with your special horse!
|Off we go!|
Non-dressage people tend to have a common misconception that dressage riders don't go for hacks with their horses, and to some extent that can be true. It is more "dangerous" to be in the middle of the woods than in the safe cocoon of the indoor arena. However, from my personal experience (and many others) hacking out can and will improve your dressage. I've been told on numerous occasions after returning back from Nottingham that Vallu's trot and canter are a lot better, and the only thing that could have caused this is the fact that he got to go out hacking!