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Happy hackers!

horses and riders at Pippsway classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

Today was the best day! I arrived at the yard bright and early and sat in the sunshine cleaning my tack whilst the birds sang and Bronson ate his breakfast. Between car issues and a bug I'd only ridden him twice the previous week and not at all this week so my plan was to give him a good groom and then lunge.

Just as I started grooming, Pip turned up and asked me if I’d like to join her for a hack. I said I’d love to! Hacking with Pip is so different to any hacks I’ve experienced before. You ride at a fair pace, at least working trot, the entire time and with the same discipline and focus as you would if you were schooling. Riding out is such a different experience when you have that level of connection with your horse. This would be my fourth ever hack with Bronson.

We set off and I put my mind to doing all the things I have been taught, both out on hacks and in the ménage. There is so much to think about! It was the most beautiful day and Bronson was in great form.

Unlike my hack lessons, where Pip is alongside teaching me, today she was riding and leading and let me follow behind to practise everything she has already taught me. We went past wheelie bins, temporary signs, a digger, a truck pulling a trailer full of Christmas Trees and the horses didn’t bat an eyelid as they were going forwards, listening and focused. Even Spartaca, who has only recently been backed by Pip, took it all in her stride! Having now ridden this way, I couldn’t imagine ever going back to bimbling along chatting! We do have a good gabble of course, but with a coffee either before or after we go.

It was great fun and I was the most relaxed I’ve been so far out on a hack, albeit whilst my mind was going ten to the dozen keeping tally of all the various elements I needed to be aware of. We had some lovely canters and overall I was pleased with our progress. Bronson and I certainly appreciated the change of pace and scenery! He does this lovely blowing sound when he’s happy and he was doing it today. Just wonderful! We weren’t perfect, but it was a huge improvement on our previous hacks and I was delighted.

We got back to the yard and I dismounted feeling absolutely thrilled. I took Bronson’s bridle off, as I always do, and instead of standing still as he normally does, he suddenly ran off round the yard in his saddle! I couldn’t believe it! Like an idiot I ran after him. ‘Stand still until he stands still’ Pip said, so I did. So there we are both standing still and of course I hadn’t even picked up a head collar. So I had to walk back round to his stable to get his head collar, then catch him and bring him back. I had forgotten to give him the instruction to stand still. Bronson is my perfect horse in that when you ask him to do something correctly, he will always comply but he always lets me know when I'm getting it wrong. I took his saddle off and waited to hose him off. At this point PIp realised we were just standing there and said “you need to put a rug on him straight away! He’ll get cold”. Not having ridden out with other people since the summer I hadn’t been in this situation before but as soon as she pointed it out it seemed so obvious, as is often the case.

So from having felt marvellous I now felt rather ridiculous. “You’ve done well today, you’re making new mistakes, not the same ones and that’s called learning” Pip said. I laughed and, as always, know I won’t make those particular mistakes again. No doubt there are plenty of interesting new ones ahead. But today was simply brilliant and I loved it!

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