Make sure you're a happy hacker

Make sure you are a happy hacker

With the summer weather finally here, this feature is all about how to ensure you are a

happy hacker, and how to make sure you do it safely. Here are our top tips:

Make sure you tell someone where you’re going. It doesn’t matter if you’re just

popping down the road to your local wood, or whether you’re going on a longer hack,

always make sure that someone knows where you’re going. None of us want to think

about getting into trouble or becoming separated from our horse, but sadly this does

happen, and if nobody knows where you are, it makes it far more difficult for them to

find you.

Be mobile. Whilst most of this use phones to text, chat with friends and update our

Facebook pages, there’s no doubt that a mobile phone can, in certain situations,

actually save your life. In the cooler weather, phones can be stowed away in pockets,

but don’t forget that mobile phone holders are available that sit around the calf, ideal

for warmer days. Remember, attaching your mobile phone to your horse is not a great

idea. If you get separated, your horse will be off with your phone and you’ll be unable to contact anybody to help you

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Be seen. It might be tempting when it’s sunny not to wear any hi viz clothing, but this could be a very dangerous mistake. There are a number of lighter weight high visibility garments available and whilst on a summer’s day you don't need to worry about the dark dingy weather, glare from the sun and the shadows cast by hedges and trees might make it very difficult for drivers and other people using the countryside to see you. Putting on a lightweight high visibility item can really make an awful lot of difference. In fact, there are also lightweight exercise sheets as well as tail bands and other horse accessories that can be used to help make you and your horse more visible.

Take a hoof pick. Most riders will have had the experience of a horse suddenly going lame on a hack. If this happens, more often than not, you’ll find your horse has stood on a stone and it’s got wedged underneath his shoe or somewhere else in his hoof. If you have a hoof pick, it’s very easy to simply free the stone and you can get on your way again, should that be the issue. If you don't have a hoof pick, finding a stick that won’t disintegrate when it comes in to contact with a stubborn stone is a little bit more challenging. There are folding hoof picks available which are easy to carry, and it means you don’t have a sharp object in your pocket.

Be confident. If you’re worried about hacking by yourself, get a friend to come along with you, or spend some time in the school. If you are worried, it’ll pass to your horse, he’ll get nervous and before you know it you’ll find you’re having quite a bad time during what should be an enjoyable experience. If you need more confidence hacking, go with