Dealing with hazards out hacking

  • If your horse is afraid of what is ahead, his first reaction as a flight animal will be to run away from it. It’s your job, through your riding, to convince him that there is nothing to be afraid of and it’s safe to walk past.

    If you see a potential hazard ahead, you should therefore:

    • Halt your horse a sufficient distance away
    • Reassure your horse with your voice if necessary.
    • If you have to ride past a drill, compressor or hedge cutters etc, try to catch the operator’s attention.
    • If the operator then switches off any machinery in order to allow you past, always acknowledge them.
    • Do not continue if traffic is approaching. When the way is clear, calmly walk forward, all the time reassuring your horse with your voice. Try to stay relaxed yourself, and keep your leg on – if you tense up, your horse will think that there is something to be worried about after all.
    • If your horse won’tgo forward and you are in company, ask for a lead from another horse. If you are by yourself and your horse is really objecting to moving towards the hazard, it is probably safer to take an alternative route if possible.
    • Treat roadworks as a stationary vehicle. Keep to the left, look behind in good time and check for oncoming traffic.
    • Be prepared to hold back for approaching traffic.
    • If safe, signal right and retake the reins before passing the hazard. Give a ‘life-saver’ look behind before moving out around the obstacle – allowing sufficient clearance.
    • Check on the inside for sudden movement or noise from the hazard.
    • If the road is not clear, wait behind the hazard at a sufficient distance, to avoid a sharp turn when able to proceed. However, be aware that if you halt too far away, you may encourage other vehicles to squeeze between you and the hazard, which may upset your horse further.

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