Skip to main content
chestnut jumper trotting

Hacking Around

I did my first hack with Trial Horse (TH) yesterday. During the ride I wanted to focus on three things: (1) trying out the new bit (swapped the full cheek corkscrew for a D-ring snaffle) (2) canter leads and (3) transitions to the canter. Also on the table were lead changes and ground poles.

Grooming and tacking up went well — he was less ticklish today, probably because I was more aware of it and made sure to stay light, especially around his belly. Overall, he stood very well, and hardly moved around in the cross-ties.

We again had to ride inside (stupid rain — doesn’t Mother Nature know I have a horse on trial that I need to ride outside?!), but this time we were all by our lonesome. I was actually happy about this, because I usually ride in the evenings and during the week, there are not a lot of people out at the barn at that time. So this was a good test. But again, TH didn’t care — yay! During our ride it rained a few times, which can be quite loud on the roof, but again, no cares. TH is definitely turning out to be even more quiet than I anticipated, huzzah!

We got to work, and he was a little stiff and locked throughout his neck and body: he has trouble truly bending and maintaining that bend. But he will do as you ask without complaint, so I feel strongly that this is something I could improve over time. Overall, he was pretty lazy–I can see why his owner sometimes rides him in spurs. I put that on my list to try later in the week. Since I never ride in spurs, ever, I need to make sure I can ride him in them myself!

After trotting, we moved on to working at the canter. Leads are still a bit tough for us — we got most of them, but they were not pretty. I need to remember to stretch up through the entire transition and not relax until we are a few strides into our canter, especially to the left.

We also practiced a few lead changes, since everything else was going okay. Plus hammering TH on his transitions and leads isn’t what we need — we need time to figure each other out, so I figured a change of pace would be good at this point in the ride. His change from right to left is almost automatic, but I couldn’t get a clean one the opposite direction. To me, this makes sense since it means switching to his weaker lead. Plus I really don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to asking for flying changes, since I’ve been riding a horse that doesn’t have them. But in the end I have confidence that it will be there when we need it. I’ve seen him do it, so it’s not like the change that direction doesn’t exist.

We finished with some ground poles, both trotting and cantering. The first time we did them, TH looked at them hard, but I kept my leg on and he jumped it. Oops! But after that he was fine and did them well. He was very responsive to both lengthening and shortening aids, so it was a piece of cake!

Overall it was a good ride, and shows me that his personality is what I’m looking for and that we have some things to work on as far as flatting goes. Both of those I like, because I feel confident I can help out on the flat and I love that I will be able to contribute to his skill-set. This whole sucking back and being looky at poles and jumps I don’t like. Our lesson on Thursday and Saturday will be good tests to see how that issue progresses.


  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – Lesson
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Lesson


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

9 thoughts to “Hacking Around”

    1. You would love him! Well, at least I imagine you would. He reminds me of a more finished Ramone… even has the same punk-rocker look!

  1. I don’t know much about him- like age or jumping experience. If he’s young and doesn’t have much jumping experience, I wouldn’t worry so much about being looky to the jumps. In fact, I’d just make it a point to ride over a ‘jump’ or poles every time you ride while you’re testing him out, and if it gets better, you know it’s just inexperience and he just needs some confidence building. You may even want to consider introducing him to some other ‘scary’ things and seeing how he responds- if he seems to be interested, that’s a good thing, he’s a smart boy.

    But if he’s older and experienced with jumps, then that would definitely be a concern… maybe something he’s not going to get over.

    Otherwise he sounds like a great boy! My boy is STUPID when it rains. We have a covered, but he just acts like the sky is falling. Okay, so it kind of is, but you know what I mean… he’s pretty calm the rest of the time, but when it rains? Nope. So that’s definitely a plus on your boy! 🙂

    And I love D ring snaffles! I use a rubber D ring for Wiz after trying some other things and it’s the best. Hope your test ride continues to go well!

    1. Thanks for the ideas! He is experienced, but not like a schoolmaster-type. I definitely plan to take him over some more jumps, hopefully a few “scarier” ones, etc. in the next few days to see how he handles them.

  2. He sounds great, I agree with the others though, give him plenty of chances with the jumps and perhaps he will get more comfortable. Could just be the new surroundings, new rider and maybe lack of spurs? Hope your next rides are even better!

  3. He sounds like fun and cute!! Yes, I agree…definitely make sure you are comfortable with how he is reacting to fences. If he progressively gets better and more relaxed that is one thing, but if he makes you worried you just have to decide whether you want to deal with it or not in the long run. Love how quiet he is!

  4. He sounds great. Is it possible that he needs body work or something and that might be contributing to his stiffness? I’m sure anything would show up in a ppe if you get to that point.

    I am loving the sound of him. He seems to be a whole bunch of willing and try. Also the fact that he even has a start on changes is amazing. Ideally you get the lead over the fence but the fact that he even understands the concept puts you pages ahead of many. Houston also struggles more with one change but surprisingly enough it is his change from his weak side to what I perceive to be his stronger side. His left to right change is beautiful… Well get there though. By strengthening him through other exercises I’m hoping it will work itself out. I don’t want to drill any changes because I don’t need him anticipating and I don’t want to strain his joints unnecessarily.

    Sounds like you had a good ride. Now tell us about your lesson last night! 🙂

Comments are closed.