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  • Writer's pictureFiona Tothill

Hacking at Kingsmead

Photo courtesy of Helen Louise Photography

Booking Hacks: We are aware seeing and booking hacks (and some other activities ) isn’t as straightforward as booking lessons. In short this is because we want to give you the best experience and the booking system simply gives us algorithms!

There are many reasons why you cannot see an activity although it’s easy for people to think we are saying you are not good enough ( that’s human nature) but that is rarely the case! Here at Kingsmead we don’t just want to throw rides together as we know there is a lot more to it than turning up and riding. We need to consider:

* Which horses you can ride, this can be due to many factors including your height or weight or riding technique or personality and not to forget your preference!

* Which horses work well together - you wouldn’t believe the equine dynamics going on out there! We need horses who are comfortable in each position in the ride, someone has to be up front, in the middle and last!

* Your confidence - the horses are less familiar with some activities and will need more support from coaches and riders. For example our longer hacks will go into less known territory, my horse needs more support from me and your horse needs more from you! Many longer routes involve extra challenges ( roads / buses/ gates/ riding past horses in fields/ etc); we need to ensure we have the right staff / client ratio - it is different for each activity and with each client group.

* The time of year - each day brings different weather challenges, this impacts on a lot of things. At some times the horses are more reactive to their environment and at other times they need more support because of the ground. We have some winter routes and summer routes and the demands on the riders change!

* The pace we go at, longer hacks are most likely to involve longer trots and possibly more challenging canters ( perhaps on fast tracks or in open spaces). However most of the hacks are still predominantly walk; riders must be able to establish and then maintain a good walk throughout.

* Rider fitness - some riders would struggle with the longer hacks, anything longer than you usual do is a stretch. As you tire you rely more on your horse, often tiring when your horse needs you. It’s not about being able to survive the longer hacks, we need to know you can ride the longer hacks! People need to build up fitness and then keep it up!

* Personalities- this can be quite sensitive however not everyone gets along! Some people prefer quiet chilled hacks, some prefer more exciting hacks, some hacks are lively and social.

This feeling comfortable extends to how people feel being out with some of the other horses. rider age - people generally like someone of a similar age although I do have some great mixes!

And there is probably a lot more that we think about without realising it!

So having worked out all the above we notice you regularly ride with a friend! So the challenges magnify many fold! We also have the added problem that when groups of friends ride together they see each other as “the same” (ability).

In short we don’t!

We encourage groups to come together and we know how much each group supports people within, it’s what makes Kingsmead Kingsmead and it’s why we work so hard to get the right match!

When friends ride together we know that if anyone of your group is struggling you will all be there offering help and emotional support- in essence it works!

The right ride dynamic is important, it can have a big impact on someone’s confidence and love of riding. It’s about making sure you have the right horse with the right people. You will want the ride to push you but not so much you are overstretched!

In a perfect world I would simply be saying “ you ride with you” but it’s not perfect and our booking system does not allow for much of the above! Every time I ask whether the system can accommodate my demands I simply get a 🙄

So you won’t necessarily see everything you can do on your App . Kingsmead is much more personal than that! Please talk to us ( and don’t get upset if you cannot see something). Tell us what you want to do - we will try to set it up and if we can’t we will always explain why!

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