What Is Hacking a Horse?

What Is Hacking a Horse?

Have you heard other riders talking about hacking their horses? You may find yourself bewildered as you try to understand their meaning.

The word hacking has a few different meanings, but in the equestrian world, it means something completely different. Horse hacking refers to a kind of ride that you can have with your horse, rather than hacking in the technological sense— or in the cutting sense!

Below, we will go over horse hacking in more detail, as well as what you can do in order to have a fun and safe hacking experience. 

What Is Hacking a Horse?

Hacking, in the equestrian sense of the word, is when you take your horse out riding on roads in your area. It is when you are riding your horse for pleasure, rather than for competition, for example. Hacking is not very strenuous, and can be thought to be light exercise instead. A horse and rider are able to get out into open spaces away from the barn or the show ring, and they are able to enjoy nature together. It can also build confidence in the horse and the rider, too. 

Hacking vs Trail Riding

Hacking and trail riding are not the same. While hacking is riding your horse out in open spaces and along roads, trail riding is typically more involved than hacking is. Trail riding is typically done farther away from the barn, so more supplies are needed. For trail riding, you would usually take saddlebags with the supplies you would need, and you may even camp out with your horse as you trail ride. Typically, trail riding is done farther away from home. Hacks are quick rides, usually around an hour or so, while trail riding can often be a full day’s excursion.

How Long Should You Hack a Horse?

When you have decided to hack your horse, you should start out with reasonable expectations. A hack is a quick ride, and if you are trying to take your horse out on longer excursions, this is considered to be trail riding. Generally, a hack would be a ride of an hour or less. It is a more relaxing ride, and is not considered to be a very strenuous activity for your horse. 

Benefits of Hacking

Hacking has benefits for both horse and rider. Of course, it can be a bonding activity for the two of you, but it can also build great confidence in the horse and in the rider, preparing them for longer excursions and trail riding. Plus, it can be a great way for your horse to destress away from the barn or the ring. Hacking is only considered to be light exercise, but it can still have plenty of physical benefits as well, like improving stamina and keeping your horse’s body healthy.

How to Hack Your Horse Safely 

If you and your horse are going hacking, you will want to be sure that you give your equine partner what they need. This means that you will need to be attuned to your horse’s needs, and do not rush them, especially if they are beginning to tire or slow. You are often venturing into unknown terrain, so you will want to pace yourself and pay attention to your surroundings. 

If you have decided to go hacking with friends, an excellent rule of thumb is that you keep the pace of the slowest rider. This ensures that nobody is left behind. You should also keep a horse’s length between each animal to avoid crowding or kicking. If too close, your horses could easily injure each other by accident. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you hack a horse?

Hacking a horse is when you ride your horse along a road in your area, rather than along a trail. It is usually a bit less involved than trail riding. To hack a horse and get your horse used to this, you can start with another horse to make it a more positive experience before you get your horse more comfortable with doing this alone. It is all about building confidence! 

What is the difference between horse riding and hacking?

Horse hacking and horse riding are similar, but they do refer to different activities. Horse hacking, for instance, is out on roads in your area, so it does require the rider to have more experience and better control over their horse than horse riding might require. This is, in part, because there are more dangers when out on a road than when riding your horse in a ring or at the barn. For hacking, a rider should be very comfortable holding the reins and steering. If they are still learning, they should wait before they begin to hack their horse.

Is hacking good for horses?

Hacking, which is the practice of riding your horse along roads or other areas for light exercise, can be a great form of exercise for your horse. It can cover different terrains and be visually and mentally stimulating for both horse and rider, due to all of the different things and scenery that you might experience. Hacking, and what your horse will experience while hacking, can also help to build confidence, as well as be a physically stimulating activity. You can hack your horse for around an hour multiple times a week to get a good amount of physical and mental stimulation in. 

Why is it called a hack horse?

A hack horse is a term that dates back to when horses were used widely to pull carriages and transport people and loads, making them carriage horses. They were then called hacks, as a shortening of the word hackney. It was originally a term that was used to describe ordinary riding horses, especially riding horses that were for hire. The Hacknet or hack horse is also a breed of horse, as well as being a word used to describe certain horse show classes or types of exhibitions where horse manners are key!