The sudden, startling sound of screeching tyres isn’t something your horse hears every day, so it can catch both of you off guard when it occurs. “Often horses will put up with constant noise, like the grinding of roadworks,” says Ian. “What will catch them out is something sharp, like a car backfiring. The key to riding through this is a combination of preparation and trying not to tense up when it does happen.” An unexpected noise may make your horse shoot forward, so it’s up to you to be mindful of this and always ready to act whenever necessary. So washing-line reins when you’re out hacking are a big no-no! “You have to be in tune with what your horse is doing underneath you,” says Ian, “so there’s no way you can switch off when you’re riding on the roads.” The occasional half-halt will remind your horse to keep his focus on you and if he does react to a loud noise, then immediately reassure him and move to a quieter area if possible. “We often dip out of busy roads to quieter areas. Just moving to somewhere a little less stressful for a few minutes can make the world of difference to a horse who’s just been surrounded by heavy traffic,” explains Ian. Mapping out a route before you leave the yard can really help if you have a few stressful areas on your hack.
The police recommend varying busy and quiet areas when you are hacking to avoid over-stressing your horse