Winter Survival Guide For Horse Riders/Owners
Equestrian Advice & Guides General Equestrian Advice
You’ve sent your horse or pony away to be backed, and today they’re home. Now what?
If you’ve had your horse or pony backed at Little Hesteyri, we will have had them for about a month, and aimed to have them walking, trotting and cantering out on a hack before coming home to you. The reason we do everything out hacking at this stage is because doing everything in straight lines is best for the horse’s body. Even if your horse isn’t young, their muscles will still be less developed having not been a riding horse yet. This gives them the best chance of building evenly on both sides. We also find it much easier to transition them to working in the arena having been exposed to the big wide world, rather than the other way around. The differing surfaces out hacking are also great for your horse's proprioception, meaning that they will understand where their feet are all the better for it. We may have had differing success with this goal, which will be in a separate report, but we also will have kept you up to date with their progress as we go. Every yard will have different methods, so it is important you know how the yard’s process works and whether that works for you. Some yards will be quicker or cost less money, but they aren’t necessarily the right yard for you.
Hugo's time at Little Hesteyri
The first thing to think about when you have your horse or pony back is comfortable fitting tack. They may have come with their own tack, but generally it is something most people don’t sort out until they are backed. We will always be open to you getting a saddle fitter whilst they are with us, or trying on some different tack whilst they are here, and most yards will be the same. We will be able to give you an idea of the tack we have been riding in, to help you out. The yard shouldn’t use a one saddle fits all policy, we have many different saddles and still find occasionally that we can’t find a perfect fit for a particular horse. It is advisable to have tack fitted as soon as possible once they are home, your horse will only have been in work a little while and will need to keep up the good work!
Chance's time at Little Hesteyri
It may also be useful to think about getting their back checked (as well as teeth if not already done). This is because in the process being backed they will have had many pressures they are not used to, and their body will have changed shape and built new muscle quite fast. Your horse or pony may have some muscle fatigue and soreness and we don’t want them to have a dislike for work because of this.
Charlie's time at Little Hesteyri
You’re now ready to ride for the first time. Depending on yours and the pony’s level, don’t try to run before you can walk. Take time to get to know your horse under saddle and get used to how they like to be ridden, as well as them getting used to the way you ride. Unless you have expressed specifically that you need your horse or pony to hack alone, or work in the arena, your horse will have mainly been hacking in company with us, so it is best to continue with this. Have a good horse on hand to be a ‘nanny’ to your horse, to keep them company and lead them past anything scary. If your yard has a different way of doing things, find out where your horse or pony is most comfortable, and start them there first. Your yard should be able to help with the transition period.
Alfie's time at Little Hesteyri
If you have a three-year-old, we would firmly recommend gentle hacking as the only thing your horse does this year. The odd wander around the arena won’t hurt them, but any circle work or faster work on a surface won’t benefit them at this stage. They can start to learn everything they need to know whilst out and about.
Benji's time at Little Hesteyri
As a four-year-old and up, your horse will be able to work a little bit harder, and we may well have introduced them to the school if we felt they were ready. We would still recommend exercising caution, your horse will hopefully be with you for many years to come, the more years they can be sound and healthy for, the better. Again, start them off with hacking, then begin to introduce some gentle school work, concentrating on a relaxed, forward rhythm and a gentle inside bend. You can introduce some pole work once they are happy in the arena, and begin to introduce some jumping. Try not to drill them too hard, we would recommend only a couple of days in the school per week.
Have an amazing time with your horse or pony!