Hacking - you might have heard that term being used for a multitude of reasons, but in the equestrian sense, what does it mean? First off, when a horse rider mentions hacking, it's nothing to do with computers! Hacking in the computer world has a very different meaning altogether and the likelihood of horses using computers is sure to be pretty low. That said, I've met some very clever horses in my time, ones that would probably find using a computer a snap - the only thing stopping them is the lack of a hoof-friendly keyboard! A 'hack' is a type of horse. The name is thought to have derived from Hackney, East London, where horses have historically been pastured. Hacking is the term applied to pleasure riding in British English, but the word is used in other parts of the world. American English speakers would commonly refer to it as trail riding - but regardless of what it might be called, what is hacking all about? Put simply, it's riding out in the open, away from an enclosed environment such as an arena or stable grounds. Hacking commonly takes place on public lands, the great outdoors so to speak. It involves riding across a wide variety of different terrain, negotiating obstacles and seeing rare, tucked away sights. While competitive events are held, it isn't really what hacking or trail riding is about - it's about having as much fun as you can. That being said, there are distinct advantages to letting your horse be hacked. Stamina and endurance as well as the animal's overall skill set are greatly improved, helping competition horses stay on top form when they need to be pushed to their limits. The skills gained in this type of riding are fundamentally important - not only for enjoyment but to help prevent steeds from burning out during their toughest challenges. Mountain biking is a sport with a similar kind of approach, in that it's not always about speed or ability, it's just about enjoyment. Splashing through streams, negotiating rocky passages, having fun with friends - these aspects are all shared with hacking. Rides can be short runs or truly epic adventures - a group on horseback can hire guides or stay at a guest ranch to savour a full experience. These types of excursions are big on fun and are a great bonding experience, but they also provide a challenge for horse and rider. Some skills are learned on your own feet, like camping, fishing and orienteering, skills that any adventurer needs to have.