My in-hand 'hacking' experiences

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
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Recently I have decided that I want to do two things. I want to get Ben leading properly, and I want to find the guts to do more hacking and expand my 'safety zone' to include the 20 minute hack to our local riding school. I have always found hacking so terribly hard so thought that I would bite the bullet and take him out in-hand over all the hacking routes that I want to do.

I have delayed walking him out in-hand, largely due to the worry that everyone on my yard will think that I have gone insane. My horse is the quietest, most sensible horse on the yard and there are few who can understand why I find hacking so hard. I have given up trying to analyse my problem, it's mostly due to a horrific bolting incident 20 years ago which I never got over and still haunts me.

So, over the last few weeks I have walked Ben out in-hand over our huge expanse of parkland, and today I took him out with a friend through the woods. Both times he was a cool as a cucumber and very chilled out - and his leading is certainly getting better. I'm going to carry on walking him out and hopefully I will feel the urge to get on him and carry on part of the hack ridden. The main problem is that he is 16.1hh and I am 5ft 2, so getting on him from the ground is impossible for me. I need to learn where all the tree stumps are.

I guess the point of this post is for you lovely people to tell me that I am not mad, I'm not ruining my horse and that walking in-hand is a good thing for both of us. I am finding it hard to shake that little voice in my head which is telling me that I am being an idiot for doing this!


With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
Ben is your horse which gives the the absolute right to do what ever you want (with in the law lol). If this will give you the feeling of safe that you need than I don't see it as a problem and no you will not ruin Ben.

I would not do it as I am to damn lazy and hate walking anywhere I either run, cycle or take the car:giggle:

What ever you do with Ben will just enforce your relationship.


Well-Known Member
Jan 7, 2013
Firstly I admire your determination in finding a way that helps you both.
Walking in hand is fantastic for relationship,confidence and bond between horse and rider imo and something few people do.
I too have had the odd looks and comments as I have enjoyed walking out in hand for years now.
Horses aren't just there to ride imo its all relevant and what is the best thing for the partnership there are no right or wrongs just difference of opinions along the way ;)
I think you have a clear and sensible plan laid out and its not only helping your confidence but also Ben's leading so you are doing 2 jobs so to speak at a time.
Keep up what your doing I think its great and will only help overcome these feelings.I know lack of confidence its not pleasent and not always easy to understand why you just need to do what makes you and Ben comfortable together and well you are :D

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
Visit site
Thanks both you of. I am determined and I really want to crack it. Maybe I am insane because most people who have my nerves hacking would have given up on the idea by now.

Who really spurs me on is the fact that next September I will get a couple of daytime child free hours when my youngest son goes to pre-school. I want to do long rides and make the most of my child free time, when I don't feel like I should always be somewhere else. I want to be able to ride out for hours - we have the space to do it but my confidence holds me back.

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
Perthshire, Scotland
Just do what I did, if you meet folk, tell them you're just taking your oversized dog for a walk. Makes them giggle and they leave you alone.

Walking flip out Inhand was the making of us. It really got us solo hacking successfully. I'm glad you're going further afield with Ben. There's nothing like a solo hack, you'll get there.


Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
Since my cob finds hacking really hard I have to lead her off the yard-any yard in fact. It has increased her confidence so I feel leading Ben out will help you.
You can also teach him to line up at various gates, you don't have to get on, just teach it. I put it in my trec training, you do have to be able to get on and off and lead.
He is your horse, its your relationship.

Its also good for fitness, I do a lot of trotting now and that means jogging.


New Member
Mar 22, 2013
I simply think I applaud you :dance:

Good on you for your goals and being so determined and motivated and good on you for ignoring others opinions or looks as they dont know yur horse or you and none of their beeswax anyway :wink:


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
Long reining one of ours out helped him gain HUGE confidence and relax and learn to trust us.


Well-Known Member
May 22, 2008
East Yorkshire
3 of ours for various reasons are generally (with this heat its lapsed a bit)walked out daily for exercise in hand- its good for them both physically and mentally and they are generally keen and don't always want to go back in the field, we school on the walks and we keep fit at the same time, okay they are not as big as Ben, but that should make no difference whatsoever - do what you want to do to achieve your aims in your relationship with him and don't worry about other people - my response to negative unhelpful comments is to ask do I interfere or comment on your life - then don't bother on mine!


New Member
Mar 23, 2012
Gateway to europe
There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking your horse out in hand, its a great way to build your confidence and his.

Some people (the un enlightened) seem to think if you lead or get off your horse during a ride the horse will have less respect for you, but its total nonsense imo.

I have the same trouble with getting on from the ground, I am ok with Cherie cos she is only 14.1 but even then the saddle sometimes slips. With Evie she is too tall and too wide to mount from the ground for me.

Try teaching Ben to stand parallel to fences and easy mounting objects like grass banks, logs, walls etc. That way you will generally find somewhere to hop on when the fancy takes you.

Take no notice of the others on the yard, once you have been doing it for a while you will probably find there are one or too others who have issues and will follow suit.


Apr 14, 2008
Echo all of the above, great for relationship building and the fact you are trying to address this rather than stay in the school or the 20 minute 'safe' hack route shows real guts and determination.

The great thing about this forum is you will be able to look back on this in a year's time, when you and Ben will be going out for hours at a time, and smile when you see how far you've come with hard work and determination :biggrin:


Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
Yep another one who thinks it's a great idea, like FM I found out how good it can be for your confidence when I had to do it, Belle is fairly easy to get on from the ground being only 14.2 but when I had a Clydesdale to ride I bought one of these

if the link doesn't work just google stirrup mounting aid, it was fab as even though he would stand by a fence or whatever it was just easier, although I still had to lengthen the stirrup to get on, if I still had mine you could have it but I don't.
As I've said before stuff what anyone else thinks, your horse, you do what ever you please.
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