Hacking nerves

CaptainBeaky

New Member
Mar 13, 2016
12
8
3
23
Hiya, I'm new here so I guess at some point I'll have to introduce myself properly!
But for now I could really do with some advice...
I ride a ten year old thoroughbred for his owner, and have been doing so for about a year now. We get on really well with schooling and have done a bit of jumping, and we used to get on well out hacking too. However we had a few incidents last summer which knocked my confidence and now I don't want to hack him at all :/
The first thing was that I was on the road with him when he jumped out in front of a van and then proceeded to spook at the van sideways down the road. The driver was very unhelpful and got so close; in the end I managed to steer him out of the road but I was shaking by that point. He normally spooks at lorries/buses/tractors so I turn him to face them, however I wasn't expecting him to be silly over a van! It made me feel like I hadn't got as much control as I thought and I think he sensed that because he started to act up with cars on the way home as well.
I decided then not to take him through the village any more but continued hacking him on quieter roads... This was until I unwittingly rode near a pig farm (didn't know it was there) and lost control, he started spinning and backing up - the only reason I got home ok was because some people nearby came to help me. After they left me I couldn't get him to walk so I put up with him prancing and bouncing about all the way home.
From this point onwards I stuck to schooling in the field, but when autumn came and it got to wet to ride in I had to start hacking again. I managed a couple of times but in the end I used to just get on him and walk/trot near the field for a few minutes and then get off.
Yesterday I attempted to go for the first hack since his winter break (his owner had already brought him back into work and he'd done a lot so wasn't at all fresh). I took rescue remedy as someone said it might help; can't say I noticed any change but it was worth a try! We got about fifty metres from the field and discovered that the ditches round the back have been scraped out, leaving very deep mud all over the path. I thought we could still get through but he started worrying and I felt my control slipping again, so we turned back. I trotted him up and down next to the field a couple of times and then got off in tears (not really because I was scared but because I want to be able to ride him so badly and then when it comes to it I am a nervous wreck).
I am hoping to get him to a school next weekend so I can do that instead, but clearly that will just be a one off and I need to get over this! Sorry for such a long block of text but if anyone has any advice I would grateful. I have thought also that I might ask my friend to bring her horse and hack out with me, as that might give me a bit of confidence if I'm not on my own...
 

Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
10,028
8,050
113
I'm sure you will get lots of good advice from others, I've been exactly where you are, the trouble with tb's is they are very sensitive as a rule and will pick up very quickly that you are scared, with mine it took about half a second for him to go from calm to melt down and once in meltdown mode it was very hard to get him relaxed again, I also found that they need someone who will man up and take control, sadly something I couldn't do with mine.
I hope you find a way through this if that is what you want but please be careful, it's there anyone who could walk out with you on foot to give you both a bit of confidence?
 

SeeingSpots

Toffee - Spotted Hotshot
Feb 27, 2015
889
252
93
North East, UK
www.instagram.com
Hiya! Welcome, it's great here. Everyone is so helpful and lovely!

Ok well first off, you sound like me. I'm the same. Or was. Not so much anymore. The thought of hacking, terrified me so much that I'd either refuse point blank to do it or drag my husband out and make him lead me. The key is to do it little and often and have someone with you until you realise that you're capable because you are. You are totally capable, you've just had a scare and lost your way a little and because of that, your horse has lost his way a little too but stay positive because it won't always be like this. I'm the girl who sat in floods of tears because her pony jumped at a cyclist lol I was an absolute wreck but I'm a lot better now. You just have to realise that you can do it but it's so hard, I know exactly how you feel.

So what I did was this. With my pony it was slightly different as he was young and green and needed bomb proofing a little. I started by walking him out in hand. I still do this sometimes actually, it's very enjoyable, like having a big dog haha I walked him as far as I could and tried to show him as much as I could to get him used to it. Then when I felt like he was a little more confident in himself, I got on him and rode him out but I put a head collar under his bridle and my husband or a friend would lead me. I'd still have control as I was on the end of the reins but my husband would also have him on a lead rope. He'd hold the lead rope very loose so that the control was in my hands as it were, but he was there incase someone needed to grab him quick. My pony isn't a bolter, he will run a short distance and then assess the danger from there, or spook and spin. He will never go flat out so with someone on the ground, if he spooked, he's still secure.

We gradually walked further and further with him on a lead rope and then decided to try without it but still have my husband walking. So we hacked out with him in a normal bridle, me riding. Just walk and trot if I felt confident enough. If something scared me, I'd ask my husband just to hold him by his bridle for moral support til we were past the scary thing. Occasionally I'd hop off and hold him myself until we got past it and then jump back on. My husband was there though.

More recently, I'ver started hacking out with my friend and her ploddy cob. Cob can go fast when asked but is a lovely, calm cob that walks in a nice ploddy pace. My husband still walks, just incase I need him but no leading. I'm not brave enough to go out without someone on the ground yet but I'm optimistic that I will be eventually. There is no rush at all you see. Baby steps.

I'm sure you will get lots of good advice from others, I've been exactly where you are, the trouble with tb's is they are very sensitive as a rule and will pick up very quickly that you are scared, with mine it took about half a second for him to go from calm to melt down and once in meltdown mode it was very hard to get him relaxed again, I also found that they need someone who will man up and take control, sadly something I couldn't do with mine.
I hope you find a way through this if that is what you want but please be careful, it's there anyone who could walk out with you on foot to give you both a bit of confidence?

This also describes my pony. Not a TB, he's a native type but god an he pick up on what you're feeling. If you're scared, he's scared. You literally have to get a grip and get on with it. That's why my husband walks. If I know someone is there incase it goes wrong, I'm braver.
 

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
54,778
15,716
113
52
On an island
Yes tb's are sensitive clever souls. Fortunately when we had Joe (tb) OH was much more confident than me and hacked him out with few problems but even he had his "moments". I honestly can't offer much advice as I am not very confident hacking - even with my old girl who I've had 12 years. There are loads of hackers on here tho that have had ups and downs confidence wise, so pretty sure one of them will be able to help you.
 

grandmarider

Member
Oct 6, 2015
37
24
8
61
i go out with my granddaughter and daughter - otherwise i stick to safe trails around the property - i don't like to go alone and many others at my barn will go out with someone who is more confident!
 

CharliesAngel

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2010
1,475
1,468
113
welcome!! just a quick reply from me just now but if you look up my recent threads Ive been battling with having lost all my hacking nerves :(
 

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
24,314
14,724
113
40
Suffolk, UK
I totally agree, baby steps are key. Set yourself small, achievable targets for each ride because its important for both of you to feel sucessful. If you can get a foot soldier or companion thats great, in the meantime how about a target of going as far as you did last time? If you can do 50M sucessfully then you know you can beat these nerves, then next time do the same again and if once you get there everything is calm and you feel good push it to 60M :) before you know it you will be out for an hour and feeling good again.

Tbs can be twits, they really can be drama Queens :rolleyes: if he starts there is no shame in hopping off and leading him for a few minutes until he calms down (and it gives you a minute to let the adrenaline subside in your body too) then hop back on when its safe to and carry on like nothing happened :)

One last thought, have you spoken to his owner about what's going on? She may have some good tips for ypu too :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: SeeingSpots

orbvalley

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2008
2,011
1,578
113
52
France, South
I'm terrible for finding an excuse not to hack:oops: To try to overcome my problems I've taken to hacking/walking in hand with my youngster. My goal upon leaving the livery is that she's tacked up and I get on only when I feel ok and get off when I don't. I allow myself to get on & off as many times in one hack as I want to:rolleyes::) that way I don't feel pressured. This week was our longest "hack" ever since I've had her - 2hours in total, even though I only spent about 30mins in total in the saddle I was very pleased with myself and very proud of her. What it has certainly done has increased her bond with me as now when she gets worried she sneaks up against me and walks along almost arm in arm with me!
 

Cremola Foam

Well-Known Member
Jan 11, 2005
991
865
93
Scotland
Lots of good advice. I agree with the baby steps. When my confidence takes a slide I go back to doing 20 mins hacks and build up from there. (20 mins as that is my safe round the block hack that both I and my pony feel comfortable with) I also have a very trustworthy friend who I hack out with who I know when I'm having a wobble will be sensitive and is happy to go at the pace I'm happy to at.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SeeingSpots

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
12,543
3,656
113
Visit site
I'm terrible for finding an excuse not to hack:oops: To try to overcome my problems I've taken to hacking/walking in hand with my youngster. My goal upon leaving the livery is that she's tacked up and I get on only when I feel ok and get off when I don't. I allow myself to get on & off as many times in one hack as I want to:rolleyes::) that way I don't feel pressured. This week was our longest "hack" ever since I've had her - 2hours in total, even though I only spent about 30mins in total in the saddle I was very pleased with myself and very proud of her. What it has certainly done has increased her bond with me as now when she gets worried she sneaks up against me and walks along almost arm in arm with me!

I wish I could just hop on and off my horse easily as I think that it is a great way to build confidence. But he is a 16.1hh shire x and I am only 5ft3 so it is impossible for me to get on from the ground.
 

KP nut

I'd rather be riding.
Dec 22, 2008
6,560
5,386
113
I don;t think your nerves are irrational! (Sorry if that's not helpful!!) But your horse spooks in traffic and traffic + horses that spook is not a great combination - especially with idiot drivers being so common. So I would avoid any riding on roads for now.

Lots of horses hate pigs so that was unlucky! But you can desensitise him to them as at least they are predictable, unlike vehicles. I used to have a pony who DETESTED pigs but it only took a few days in hand past a pig farm before he got used to them.

I am not particularly nervous of hacking but I am training a youngster and will not take her on roads alone yet. I have recently started taking her off-road on my own though and that feels much better. The easiest places are those designed for horses - like farm rides or gallops. So if you can hire a trailer or beg a lift then I'd start with that. Then moving onto shared spaces like bridle ways. Horses might spook at bicycles but IME cyclists feel vulnerable in a way that car drivers just don't so they are much more likely to keep their distance. And only much later back onto roads, starting with lanes, then quiet roads, then busier ones as you both get more confident.

Your idea of going with a friend is excellent. Horses are generally much better with a steady companion. If she has transport can she come to you and pick you up then head off for the nearest suitable off-road area?
 

Little-red

Member
Jan 11, 2016
57
22
8
30
I don't own so have no advice for training in hand etc but I do hack an awful lot and love it. I am however a worrier by nature and can easily get nervy so not ideal with horses! That being said I have methods of coping in the saddle when I need to, although I'm MUCH more relaxed in the saddle than I am on the ground.

My favourite boy that I ride is a spooker. Leaves, feathers, invisible bush monsters, the same corner he's ridden past 20 times, sometimes even just asking him to stand on his own - you name it he will have a flap! As I'm used to him I know when it's coming as his ears gets mega twitchy and I can feel his back legs go - so I chat to him. I may sound like a mad woman but I constantly talk to him till he relaxes and I don't ask any more of him till I can feel he's happy again. I also find that if I really feel the nerves rising that humming a song to myself helps! It controls your breathing and is supposed to calm your heart down again! Again mad woman style but I'm sure my mad boy I ride appreciates it haha

Hopefully this helps - I'm not sure it does for everyone but good luck! I hope you can get your boys courage back as hacking is so much fun :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: SeeingSpots
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Ale Where have my hacking nerves gone?! Cafe 8
Lottie86 Solo hacking nerves Confidence Club 24
Mary Poppins FINALLY got over hacking nerves... Older Riders 10
L nerves overflowing while hacking Training of the Horse and Rider 3
Mary Poppins Getting over hacking nerves - we walked past a killer plastic bag!! Older Riders 16
S hacking nerves Older Riders 11
sorrow Hacking nerves Training of the Horse and Rider 4
Doodle92 Hacking spoiled today Cafe 9
horseandgoatmom 2021 Hacking and Riding Hacking 1191
E How can I teach my mare that hacking alone isn't the end of the world? Training of the Horse and Rider 10
Native Lover Tips for solo hacking Confidence Club 9
P 2020 Hacking & Riding Thread Hacking 977
Skib Hacking thread update Cafe 23
MissSazzle Hacking Buddies Hacking 7
Toz What’s your horse like in unexpected meet ups hacking? Cafe 16
Laurenrmc Hacking Buddies wanted Slindon, West Sussex UK. Hacking 8
Laurenleo Hacking scare Cafe 4
C Rosettes For Hacking Cafe 4
Bodshi Resurrection of 'Things you don't expect to see out hacking' thread Cafe 21
Duffy Cat Finding hacking buddies /Fun ride buddies Other Disciplines 6
Wally My new hacking territory Cafe 12
hepsibah Hacking around fields containing loose horses? Training of the Horse and Rider 7
P 2019 Hacking/Riding Thread Hacking 899
Bodshi Extreme Hacking Cafe 12
Aln Free track your hacking apps Cafe 9
N my horse rushs when behind another horse out hacking! HELP Training of the Horse and Rider 5
P Longer distance hacking ... Cafe 13
Lissie Fun hacking Cafe 5
Native Lover 2018 Hacking/Riding challenge........ Add your photos and join in open to anyone. Hacking 632
joosie hacking noms Hacking 26
Jane&Ziggy Ziggy's hacking diary: lots of trots Hacking 0
Jane&Ziggy Ziggy's hacking diary: miles and miles Hacking 6
Jane&Ziggy Ziggy's hacking diary: I am BAD Hacking 1
Galaxysgirl Confident hacking..will it ever happen Training of the Horse and Rider 10
Jane&Ziggy Ziggy's hacking diary returns Hacking 3
Topper07 Hacking Hacking 5
Tiger Lily Advice on First Time Hacking Out Training of the Horse and Rider 8
G Hacking issues? Training of the Horse and Rider 6
SeeingSpots Anyone used one of these for hacking? Tack & Saddlery 12
joellie Really bad spook out hacking!! Cafe 75
ChloeAnWomble Hacking with a dog Hacking 24
chunky monkey Hacking cameras Cafe 3
SeeingSpots No brakes out hacking Training of the Horse and Rider 14
W Hacking Out - what to bring along for the ride Hacking 14
Native Lover 2017 Hacking/ Riding Challenge.... Add your photos too Hacking 938
G Hacking advice?? Training of the Horse and Rider 4
KP nut Hacking a younger horse out in a fast group... Training of the Horse and Rider 21
orbvalley Hacking advice needed Hacking 36
Ale Hacking achievement Cafe 2
Native Lover Hacking out ...Plan B ;-) Hacking 15

Similar threads

newrider.com