We do a lot of hacking at this time of year with all the horses coming back into work ahead of the new event season. Hacking is often thought of as 'boring' but it really shouldn't be. It's an essential part of my preparation and fitness work and I really focus on making the best possible use of all the 'facilities' that I have. I'm lucky to have a great set-up here at Maidwell (arena, gallop, etc) but you really don't need much, or even anything really, to achieve an awful lot. I hope this video can give you all a few tips to take your happy hacking to the next level!💪🤞🤗
✅ Using hills (if you have them)
✅ Riding on different surfaces
✅ Trotting up (and maybe down) hills
✅ Working on flatwork basics
✅ Practising your transitions
✅ Getting your horse fit without 'galloping'
✅ Stay warm🥶
✅ And don't fall off!🐎💨🙈
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Posted by Piggy March on Friday, January 8, 2021
Piggy March certainly needs no introduction as a senior member of the British Eventing team and the reigning Badminton winner. This winter, Piggy’s begun vlogging and we’re going back a few episodes to one full of her best practices for hacking out.
It’s no secret that hacking is a key ingredient to event horse fitness – indeed, in the absence of firm footing during the wet winter, most British riders make good use of the road systems to bring their horses back to peak form over time.
“Hacking sounds like it’s pretty simple, but I really don’t think it is,” Piggy explains in this episode. “Especially this time of year, when the horses have had a month to six weeks off. This to me is a really important time of their building up for the season.”
Hacking should be done with intention, however, and attention to detail must be paid. Was that transition nice enough, or should you try it again? While Piggy says hacking for her team is low-stress and low impact, the fact is that attention to the foundational basics will pay off when it comes time to get into proper schooling.
The benefit of the miles and miles of slow walking and trotting is that come March, “our horses are pretty fit, and it’s not by galloping them hard at all. It’s a lot of slow conditioning and build-up work.”
Long, slow distance is indeed a well-known manner for bringing a horse into fitness. Done correctly, this time put in over the off-season can reap benefits such as less lameness issues, more stamina on cross country, and more relaxation/less tightness. Of course, Piggy says, this is her system – every program, every horse, every rider is different. Nonetheless, there are still some beneficial nuggets of wisdom to be learned from these top riders and integrated into our own programs.
Happy Hacking, and don’t forget to follow Piggy on Facebook to watch her new vlogs as they are released.