One of the funnest things to do with your horse is hack out! Sometimes we get so stuck in schooling mode we forget how great it is to get out of the arena and relax. Hacking out can be therapeutic for horse and rider; everyone gets to decompress and enjoy a change of scenery while still working as a team.
Unfortunately, finding a place to hack out isn’t always easy. If you don’t have access to an open space near your barn or a truck and trailer to hit the road with hacking out can become a distant memory. Lucky for my pony Rio and I, we were invited to hit the trails at Short Hills Provincial Park with some friends. We took the horse-friendly Black Walnut trail, and though we all had a blast, we were a bit surprised at some of the obstacles we met. So before you head out on this trail, have a read through and make sure it’s a good fit for your and your equine partner.
The first was the sound of gunshots being set off nearby. Our horses all adjusted well, but that could be a challenge for some, especially youngsters. The gunshots can no longer be heard once you get going into the trees. The beginning of the trail was a beautiful winding path through the trees, which was fantastic, except that the path was quite narrow and didn’t leave much room for error in some areas. The narrow path only lasted so long, eventually opening up to very comfortable trail.
There are three wooden bridges on the Black Walnut trail. The first was wide enough to cross on horseback. The second was more narrow and didn’t have side rails so we decided to dismount and walk our horses across. The third was wider but again had no side rails so we decided to take the safe route and dismount one more time.
The Black Walnut trail also has two small creeks to pass through. Neither are deep but both are rocky so you have to be a bit careful.
Aside from the bridges and creeks, the path is either stone, dirt or grass. There are a couple of steep uphill sections along the way but the downhill sections are gradual. Most of the trail is treed so think about bringing bug spray for you and your horse.
All in all, the trail was a ton of fun. It took us about an hour and a half from start to finish. I definitely wouldn’t bring my green mare out to it just yet, but Rio really enjoyed herself!
If you’ve been through the Black Walnut trail or know of other fun places to hack out, feel free to leave some feedback on your experience.