The clocks have rolled back, the heavyweight rugs have come out and mud is everywhere you turn – winter is officially upon us. So with less light, how do you fit riding in? Our #Hack1000Miles riders sit on both side of the fence – should you or should you not ride in the dark?
Those who wouldn’t
“I personally would never risk it for my horse’s safety, and that of the general public,” says Rachel Steadman. “I wouldn’t forgive myself if something happened.”
Cassi Errington agrees. “I wouldn’t ride at night anyway, but we have no immediate off-road hacking. There are lots of roads to negotiate first, so I wouldn’t risk it.”
Even with an option to ride, Sally Hudson wouldn’t mount up after dark. “I could potentially ride down the lane and back to and from the yard, but as we share it with 2 farms it wouldn’t be worth the risk of meeting any cars. They don’t expect to see us in summer, so winter would be a whole other ball game.”
Those who would
“We do it every winter a couple times a week,” says Sarah Fisher. “We have Equisafety Mercury sheets on the horses, and flashing hi-vis on us. We also use head torches, flashing bands on the horses’ legs and our arms, and cycle lights attached to our bridles and martingales. It’s not ideal, but sadly a necessity,” she explains.
Liz Roskell adopts a different tactic. “I can get to a well-lit housing estate nearby, but make sure to wear flashing lights and hi-vis. I’m lucky to be retired now, but only did it out of necessity to fit around work,” she tells us.
If you think how daunting it can be to ride in the dark, then imagine how it must be to compete! That’s exactly what Melanie Van Kampen de Jong did. “I ride in the dark all the time in winter,” she says. “I even did an endurance race that started at midnight – that was really cool.”
Those who would – but only off-road
“I would never ride on the roads, but we are lucky enough to have hacking straight off the yard into the woods,” says Sue Gouldbourne. “I go out first thing in the morning with a head torch and get back as it’s getting lighter.”
“I have ridden around my farm in almost complete darkness with a head torch and flashing LED breastplate and straps for brushing boots,” says Hayley Dawson. “My pony looks like a right wally, but he does loves cantering around the fields!”
Amy Waldon ventures around the farm her yard is on. “It has some nice hills, so even though it’s just under 2 miles we get a nice workout,” she says. “I use a dim head torch, and I was surprised the first time we did it at how completely unphased she was.”
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