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A perfect day for a hack.

Sharon Howe and Riley her pony
He’s such a good boy normally and rarely has a bad reaction to anything
When it comes to being around horses, confidence is important and yet for me it seems so capricious. Recently, after a miserable and wet start to the Spring, sunshine arrived, and in that moment, it felt like a perfect day for a hack. Now Riley is usually the ideal pony for hacking. He has had the odd spook and there have been rare moments where he doesn’t like something, which may result in him holding his head very high, and becoming a snorting, fire breathing dragon or a maybe even making a very small jump to the side, but on the whole he is a well-mannered, well behaved gentleman. Indeed, during the four years that we have been together I can only recall that he has bolted twice. Once when he didn’t like the look of a piece of farm machinery that was out of place, and another time he galloped off with me without warning after having been clipped and was feeling fresh.

On tenterhooks

Riley sometimes stops and stares if he spots something new or scary. If I’m having a confident day, he just makes me laugh and then we move forwards
The last few times we have hacked out, I noticed that he hadn’t been settled. I first noticed this when we were hacking past the yard owners garden and he could hear noises, but couldn’t see through the hedge to see what was making the noise. This caused me a little anxiety as I generally find that if Riley is unsettled at the beginning of a hack he is on tenterhooks for the whole hack. On that particular day we went for a short hack, and on the way back he looked very frightened again as we once again passed the garden. I thought it was probably because a Landrover Defender which wasn’t usually there was parked on the yard owners driveway. He was so anxious that I decided to dismount and walk him back in hand. He was still very unsure all the way back to his stable.

A look of horror on his face

A few days later we repeated the exercise, unsuccessfully. Once again there was a noise behind the hedge, but this time Riley could see half a dog peeping out and was not happy. Despite much cajoling, he wouldn’t move forward and only managed to move on when the whole of the dog and it’s owner were revealed and had walked past us. This section of the hack is a public footpath through the landowners estate and almost immediately he spied another dog with it’s owner and rooted himself until they also passed by.   By the time he came to the same spot where he had previously seen the defender, he again had a look of horror on his face although this time, the vehicle wasn’t even there so I began to wonder if that had been the issue at all.

How wrong could I be?

Riley is normally a very chilled, well behaved gentleman
Having had so many wonderful hacks in the past with Riley, I thought these recent issues were just a blip and because it was such a nice day I tacked him up looking forward to another lovely hack.  This time he walked slightly tentatively past the yard owners house with me patting him reassuringly, and we turned into the lane that leads us past a beautiful chocolate box cottage. We had been down this lane so many times before without incident and so I couldn’t have anticipated the problem ahead. At this point, the only thing I could see on the lane was a person about two thirds of the way down, waiting by a gate. Admittedly their sweatshirt was bright white but surely Riley wouldn’t have any trouble passing a human.  How wrong could I be? He rooted his feet to the floor and watched the person with the white sweatshirt and their friend walk towards us as though they were a real threat. I could feel his brain whirring and could sense he was wondering if he should run away. The closer they got, the the more tense he became.  By the time they had passed by and were out of sight, we were both very nervous.  I aborted the hack, turned round and headed back to Riley’s stable. I dismounted feeling deflated and tearful with so many thoughts swirling around my head, why wasn’t I braver? How could I hope to ride Blackjack (my youngster) if I couldn’t hack a sane sensible Riley? How would I fulfil my dreams if I was too scared to ride? I knew I was being ridiculous because it was Riley I was having these thoughts about. He wouldn’t ever do anything too drastic.

Some days I am braver than others

I headed home with a heavy heart, and I pondered on the mornings events over a cup of coffee. With the benefit of passing time and a more logical thinking approach, I reached two conclusions, first, that I needed to hack out again soon, with someone on the ground to give both Riley and myself a helping hand,  and second, that all days for me are not equal. Some days I am braver than others and have more of a can do attitude. Today was on reflection not one of them, and that for me is perfectly normal.

If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here  

Sharon Howe

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Hi! I am Sharon Howe

Country & Equestrian Blogger

Hello My name is Sharon Howe and I am horse mad. This site is my place to scribble away my…


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