or should that be hoof!
Often, we lose our confidence a little over the Winter. Months of spooky horses in the wind, coupled with lack of muscle and lack of practice can leave us feeling slightly nervous at the thought of that hack, or taking that lesson. But that’s okay.
Break it down. Take everything one step at a time. Build yourself up slowly. Confidence is like a muscle, it weakens with lack of use, but equally builds up quickly once flexed. If you are nervous about hacking out by yourself, take it one step at a time. Why not take your horse for a walk in-hand around the same circuit you wish to hack round? Find someone to hack out with. Make sure it is someone you trust, who is sensible, and is going to be supportive.
Practice meeting obstacles in the school. For example, you can place dustbins and tie flapping bags around your arena, so that your horse becomes used to obstacles. Doing some simple spook busting in the school will enable you to feel more confident out hacking. If you can’t find someone to hack with you, ask a friend to walk or run with you on your hack. You and your horse will gain reassurance from having another person around.
The Spring should be a pleasurable time of year. Don’t push yourself too hard to achieve things straight away. Take the time to build up to what you want to be able to achieve and then you will find yourself enjoying your time with your horses, rather than regarding it constantly as a challenge. Building blocks always mount up to big achievements, and some good solid groundwork with your horses in the Spring, will reward you with a lovely time over the rest of the Spring, Summer and Autumn.
Lizzie Hopkinson is a partner at Ethical Horse Products