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Independent hacking at 9 years old?

20 replies

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome · 28/05/2017 07:42

Just looking for some perspective, really.

DD has been riding for just over 2 years. Currently, she is riding 3/4 times a week with on average two of those times being a 1:1 lesson.

Previously, in the early days, she was having up to 3 private 1:1 lessons a week, but now has the confidence and skills where this isn't as necessary as it was when she was a complete novice.

Can I ask, would you be happy for your DC to go hacking alone at 9 years old?

DPony is worth his weight in gold, and I trust him as much as anybody could trust a pony. He has no problems hacking, either on his own or in a group.

There are tracks, but no public roads, and the route has public footpaths running through it, where people rarely walk their dogs off lead, it's also a working farm, so there are tractors etc about.

DH and DD think it's perfectly reasonable for her to hack alone, and that I'm over reacting when I say it's not safe, and that he should go with her on foot.

However, the benefits of DD doing this are amazing - the sense of freedom & adventure, and the boost to her confidence, etc isn't to be sniffed at Grin.

I'm happy to be told that I'm being precious, and she should be allowed the freedom, but I think DH is being too blase about it, and that the risks outweigh the positives.



OP posts:
Justjibberish · 28/05/2017 09:01

Has your DD taken any horse out on her own? How much hacking experience does she have? It is difficult to give an opinion without knowing your DD and pony. As it will be the first time going out together I would have someone go out with them but mainly to assess how your DD handles situations such as off lead dogs, how she makes judgements about suitable surfaces for a quick canter (if there are any). I think being safe out hacking depends on being aware of your surroundings and the ability to stay calm and not further panic the horse when things happen. Maybe when your DH could give her the equine equivalent of an equine advanced driving test Smile, where she has to keep up a running commentary (e.g. " I was thinking off cantering up here, but there's some off lead dogs who might chase me/small children who might run up to me")
I have a particularly neurotic Section D and I will still occasionally ask my sister to walk out with us if I'm going somewhere New, but that is because I have a tendency to be a nervous rider so it helps me not to tense up and DC (darling coblet) takes confidence from having someone on the ground as well. Having said that I'm under no illusion that if everything went pear shaped there's not a lot my DS could do apart from pick up the pieces Shock. So unless there is a defined purpose for someone walking alongside, I don't think it's particularly useful.
If you think she can stay calm and safe, put measures in place - she has to tell someone where she's going and for how long, mobile (carried on her, not the horse) and a label with contact details attached to the saddle, in case they part company and the horse runs off, wave her off with a smile knowing how much you're doing for her self esteem and confidence

lynmilne65 · 28/05/2017 09:03

I did ! We were deep in the country!

AntigoneJones · 28/05/2017 09:06

I think your DH should go with her on a bicycle, the first few times, then as Just suggested.

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome · 28/05/2017 09:22

Oh thanks - I love the idea of the running commentary Just jibberish.

Think I'm locking the stable door once the horse has bolted, though, because I've just realised that the one thing I accidentally left out is that she's already done this 4 times.

I was asking in a ..should I put a stop to this sort of way, but reading my post back, that wasn't clear, sorry.

The comments are still relevant though, I'd feel better if they did the running commentary idea, even though she's already gone alone 4 times.

DH is a lot more confident about all this than I am, and didn't even discuss it with me prior to it happening, they just came back having already done it, iyswim.

I feel like he's one extreme and I'm the other.

She hasn't trotted or cantered yet on a solo hack, she's happy just walking for now, but does trot if she goes on a group hack.

It's just nerve racking for me, because of all the "What ifs" that play through my mind.

It must be lovely and relaxing to be the parent of a child whose passion is swimming, or art or piano Grin

OP posts:
Rollingdinosaur · 28/05/2017 14:22

I don't think I'd be allowing it to continue if I were you. I am just at the point of letting my 9 year old go to the park for half an hour with his older cousins and no adult. I think there is just too many things that can go wrong on a hack and 9 is not old enough to deal with those on her own. Is there a compromise you could come up with, something like you letting her do parts of the hack on her own, so that you are within shouting distance, but she can't always see you maybe?

bruffian · 28/05/2017 14:26

I have four children and three horses. My youngest is now 11, had been riding since she was born, has the most bombproof pony alive. And no, I wouldn't let her hack alone at 9. My 14 year old goes out alone and obviously the 18 year olds.

I still go for a walk with the dogs if she wants to hack.

bruffian · 28/05/2017 14:28

We live in a very rural, horsey area. I dint think any of the horsey families I know would even consider hacking alone at 9!

bruffian · 28/05/2017 14:30

And, dd11 canters off by herself and jumps logs etc so has plenty of freedom, I'm just pootling along in the background if needed.

My friend who is in her 40s fell off out hacking - she was unconscious for a long time. We didn't know where she was but the horse came home without her. She had severe concussion and 4 years later still has complications.

Ollivander84 · 28/05/2017 14:34

I hacked alone from 11. The one thing I always got in the habit of (mobile phones weren't really about!) was sticking a note to my stable door saying "gone on hack at 10am around XYZ. Back by 12 and then parents contact number"
Also I carried a whip, money for a phone call and a folding hoof pick - all got used at least once!

Floralnomad · 28/05/2017 14:35

I wouldn't , fortunately both of my dc gave up riding before they got to the age where they would want to go out alone . I had just turned 13 when I got my first horse and I used to hack alone and even in those days I would say 11 was the cut off age for going out alone . One of the ladies at our yard did get accosted by a man in some woods when she was alone but she threatened him with a hoof pick she had in her pocket and that seemed to deter him . I don't think how bombproof the pony is makes any difference really .

Humpertydumpty · 28/05/2017 16:41

No way, not that young. What if something happens? I don't let my 12 yr old out alone and neither does our yard. All kids have to ride in pairs at least.

Booboostwo · 28/05/2017 19:41

Absolutely not. Frankly I don't know what your DH was thinking to let her do this.

If she has yet to trot/canter on her own and has not cantered in a group she is very much a beginner horse rider. That alone puts her at risk of an accident if the pony spooks for whatever reason. Add to that her age, she is far too young to be able to judge what to do in a difficult situation, e.g. loose dog, pony takes off heading for the road, etc. If that wasn't enough solo hacking is quite a bit more dangerous than group hacking for all riders because they is no one there to see you get in trouble and call for help.

Does your DH ride? Most riders are aware of how quickly and how badly things go wrong with horses.

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome · 28/05/2017 20:03

OK thank you.

You've all made a lot of sense. I am going to insist that he accompanies her, or that she hacks with someone else.

I sought advice from people in RL the other day, and there were so many stories of what they were all up to when they were at that age, and the freedom that they had, that I think I got swayed.

She has trotted, cantered & jumped in the school, but not on hacks.

Thanks for all the advice - I am going to have the conversation this evening with DH.

The route that she has been taking takes 15 minutes tops, but so much can happen in 15 minutes that it just isn't acceptable to carry on taking the risk.

Yes, DH is a very experienced rider.

OP posts:
bruffian · 28/05/2017 22:24

She's never trotted or cantered outside a school?! Your dh sounds nuts, sorry.

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome · 28/05/2017 23:13

Booboostwo she has been on accompanied hacks where the pony has spooked, and has coped very well - managed to remain calm and reassured the horse, etc.

That's not to say that I disagree with what you're saying, though, I think you're right.

And sorry - she has trotted on group hacks, and when accompanied with a pedestrian, I meant to say but not on solo hacks.

Blimey, I'm not doing very well here! Will read post before I post message from now on! Grin

Thanks again. Everyone's opinions have really helped me.

DH & I have had the conversation - it's agreed, though I have yet to tell DD. That's a job for tomorrow, but the fact that she's going on a group hack tomorrow will, I'm sure, soften the blow Grin.

OP posts:
bruffian · 28/05/2017 23:27

Why can't you just go with her? It doesn't make her a better rider if she's on her own

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome · 29/05/2017 07:38


When I'm there, I do go with her, it was DH I was talking about, who has let her go unaccompanied.

OP posts:
ArsenalsPlayingAtHome · 29/05/2017 08:01

DH has read through all posts - thanks for everyone's comments.

It's a done deal, no more unaccompanied hacks, from now on he will always walk with her Grin.

Happy days!

Cake for everyone! Wink

OP posts:
RedBugMug · 29/05/2017 08:06

I would.
but with strict rules.

  • relling you when she's going
  • telling you the exact route (and sticking to it!)
  • no canter
  • 'airbag' vest and good helmet
SunsetBoulevard · 13/06/2017 14:39

I have a nine year old and a very reliable pony who I have owned for 19 years. There is no way on God's earth I would let him hack out alone on her. I did hack out at that age myself but, even then when roads were much quieter etc..., I would never have gone alone at that age. We used to go in groups for safety sake. Too many things to go wrong with even the safest pony. Really pleased your DH has agreed to keep accompanying your DD for now. Maybe a compromise would be to take her somewhere safe to hack a route on her own. Don't know where you are of course but here there are several sites where you can go around little x-country courses (you don't have to do the jumps) if you want and know that the boundary is fully enclosed. Give her a phone with a tracker on it as well and then you can watch her progress from the car park!

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