Guest blog: David Scanlan

SEP. 21, 2020

My name is David Scanlan and I have been around horses for over 30 years. During that time I have gained experience with a whole host of horses, and I have seen my fair share of bullying too.
I hate it. I have seen undue and unfair pressure placed on people to do things they don’t want to do, and this blog addresses one of the most overlooked and underrated ‘disciplines’ there is. Hacking!

There is a lot of pressure on equestrians to choose a discipline, whether that be dressage, eventing, show jumping or hunting. When equestrians are quizzed over what they do with their horse, so many times I have heard them reply back with a simple yet often downtrodden tone to their voice- “I’m just a happy hacker”.

But - so what? If you enjoy hacking, then it is as simple as that. Don’t be shy or feel less of an equestrian because you enjoy ‘just’ hacking. In my honest opinion, hacking is a discipline in itself. You have to negotiate with and around other road users, and be aware of the rules of the road. A knowledge of the Highway Code is essential. We have to dress in a multitude of hi-viz equipment to help ensure our safety. We even have to negotiate some of the most terrifying obstacles there are in the whole of human existence - including a lethal predator guaranteed to spook the most sure footed horse... the plastic bag!

Most of us have to get past these obstacles before we even get to a local patch of woodland or enclosure to ride in, and then we still have to negotiate various hazards such as overhanging branches, wildlife, spooky horses, downed trees, brambles, stinging nettles and much more.

I felt the need to write this blog as I have seen so many people feel belittled just because they hack...well don’t! Over the years I have taken on ex-polo ponies and ex-racehorses, all to the tones of people saying “you must be mad”, or “that horse will kill you” . But guess what? I have done it. I have taken high level, professional horses into retirement, and turned them into happy hacks. My final piece of advice is just to hack away, have fun and enjoy the incredible bond and trust that hacking will give you between you and your horse.

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