Q: Why should I do #HQHack1000?

Asked by an imaginary friend for the purposes of advocating hacking…

A: #HQHack1000 is a country-wide equestrian challenge. The goal is to hack 1,000km in your chosen horse-rider combination. This can be done over any time period. All you need to do is to track your own distance and keep us updated on HQ’s Facebook page, where we hope to see your pictures and hear about your adventures.

Many of us know that hacking is beneficial, yet commonly we get absorbed in the schooling and preparation for competition and neglect this important part of training. Top riders, including Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, have explained their use of hacking within their training programmes for even their very top horses. Carl describes hacking in the hills around his property at least two days a week. Even when schooling, he tends to warm up or cool down with a walk in the surrounding area. He is not alone, with many top showjumpers detailing the desensitising effect of hacking, and the benefits to a hot horse of switching off from ‘arena time’.

As a reminder, here are just a few of the many benefits of hacking:

Physical benefits

  • Walking builds muscle.
  • Walking over different terrains helps to strengthen muscles that stabilise joints. It also helps build co-ordination and balance.
  • Walking up and down hills helps to strengthen muscles, develop balance and improve cardiac fitness.
  • Moving older, stiffer horses helps to keep their joints mobile and has a positive effect on soundness.

Mental benefits

  • Giving horses variation in their routine helps to enhance their mental well-being.
  • A happy and stimulated horse is more likely to perform well in the arena.
  • Spending time with your horse without putting any ‘pressure’ on him is a great way to bond.
  • Horses often concentrate better on schooling exercises when they are practised outside the arena.
  • Hacking exposes your horse to more environments and objects. This helps to desensitise him, making him less afraid of objects in his surroundings.

Rider benefits

  • Hacking provides a great opportunity to work on schooling exercises with our horses outside of the arena, so that we can practise exercises more often without encountering the sourness that can arise from doing the same exercise over and over again in the same arena.
  • Hacking provides an opportunity for us to concentrate on our position and aids.
  • Hacking is great for our mental health, as it gets us outside, in the fresh air, with our equine companions.

To start the #HQHack1000 challenge, please fill in the form on our website to sign up your horse-rider combination. From there you will be sent the tracking sheet, which you can fill in to monitor your progress in the challenge.