3 Tips for Happy Hacking!

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The other day I went out for a ride on my beloved black pony and I thought I would share some of the things that came up for me on our ride that could be helpful for you also. I know hacking out or going out on the trail is challenge that some of you face confidence wise so let’s have a look at a few things we can do to keep ourselves in check when our pony steeds become a little distracted.

I will preface this by saying that before riding out, I have crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s. This post is based on the understanding that you equine of awesomeness is ready to be taken out on a hack on his or her lonesome.
I imagine the inlet where I ride must look like the Colosseum to my horse. It’s a huge, tidal amphitheatre that leads out to the ocean, and at low tide, it becomes a packed mud flat that you can conveniently ride on. The hills to the side makes the sound bounce around all over the place, and if I was thinking like a horse, I would think that it would be a place where I would be on high alert; predators from all sides must seem like a possibility. Which leads me to my first point… if you take your horse out on the trail, any responses that they have- if they “look” at something, balk at a suspect leaf, or a patch of dirt a slightly different colour- they are not “naughty” or “stupid”, they are just being a horse. And to the horse, they are thinking of two things: is that item endangering me in some way and do I need to flee?
The little dots you see in the photo are actually me and Morgen:

It’s really that simple. If you can wrap your brain cells around this, it’s incredibly liberating. It means that nothing your horse does in response to something they see, hear or feel is a personal attack on you, lest you make it so.

 Instead, it is your job to do the necessary behind the scenes work to keep your horse safe. To make them go, well, yes that thing I see does make me want to run for the hills, but if Jane says it’s ok, it must be ok. She’s never put me in harms way before. I guess we can rock this out.
That said, horses are not machines. Here are some things I put into practice as I went for a jaunt across the inlet. 

1. Me: Those are Cyclists. Morgen: I think that might be a bear {Don’t make their fixation your fixation}

If you horse spots something in the distance, make sure that their focus doesn’t become your focus. Your focus is them, and on dealing with what is in front of you.
In moments like these, make sure:
* You are focusing on what it is that you want {for example  focus, calm and relaxation}
* You are controlling your physical response {work with the breath, ensure you haven’t become physically tense also}
* You do whatever you need to to keep you both safe {If you can work with the energy in the saddle, do so. If you feel out of your depth, frightened or unsure, hop off and deal with it on the ground}

2. Don’t let one event permeate the entire ride {He’s now forgotten about the bear, I don’t need to keep returning to it in my mind}

 Morgen saw a bear. He got distracted and we brought the focus back and continued on. We can let it go now; I don’t have to continue riding on high alert, or reliving the moment endlessly in my mind. He’s not, so either will I. Just deal with what is in front of you. And what is in front of me now is a horse back to doing his job.

3. Focus on what went well after you have finished your ride

A tendency we all have as humans is to focus on the hiccups, or the things that didn’t go quite to plan, as opposed to the things that went well. If you are looking to build up your confidence with hacking out, then make sure you are creating a library of successful moments in your head, as opposed to fixating on the bits that didn’t go to plan.

For example: 

Option A
Husband: How was your ride?
Me: Oh he got really tense about the cyclists and had a bit of a moment
Outcome: I focus purely on the undesirable parts
Option B
Husband: How was your ride?
Me: Oh, we had some really great moments. For the most part he was really calm and relaxed and we enjoyed ourselves!
Outcome: I focus on the positive. This doesn’t mean I ignore what happened, but I can feed that into my strategy for the future without having to make it a conversation piece.
Try them out for yourself and let me know how you get on!
And to make sure you are super focused on the good stuff, I created a Happy Hacking Success Log Printable- you can download yours below!
xx Jane
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4 thoughts on “3 Tips for Happy Hacking!

  1. Thank you… good, helpful advice, as usual… you are amazing. :-) Will copy this off and hang it in my tack room to re-read and inwardly digest!! Happy Riding, Always!

  2. Hi Nan, thank you so much! I am so happy you found it useful. Happy riding absolutely! xx Jane

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