Six weeks out of the saddle after a back operation didn’t stop Helen hitting 1000 miles with five horses

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Helen Chivers has crossed the hack1000miles finish line, using a variety of hooved friends. She has three horses of her own: Dougal, Jack and Venus. 

Dougal is a 13.2hh 21-year-old piebald who she’s owned since he was six months old. Jack, is 15.2hh, a dun ISH x Connemara, Helen smiles, “He’s actually my son’s Pony Club horse, but I like to steal him.”

Venus is a 14.3hh 15-year-old bay mare who was rescued from Portugal by Helen’s friend, who then gifted her when Helen lost her old mare.

Helen also rides two horses from work, Honey and Lloyd who are both Welsh section D’s. “I’m very lucky, I work on a private estate so I have access to some amazing hacking all to myself.”

The many talents of Dougal

Dougal proved himself to be an extremely versatile horse, Helen rides and drives him, and they also ended up being cattle wranglers on one of their hacks. Helen laughs, “We happened to be passing the local dairy when the cows were going back out, and we ended up with a job. We had to herd them down the road!”

Forest hacking

Helen also clocked up some of her miles on holiday, camping in Thetford forest with her dogs and horses. She was sure to make the most of every ride prior to an impending back operation.

“The first time it got cancelled, it was great to get more time to ride while the sun was still shining! My goal was to reach the 500 mile mark before I had to go to hospital.”

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Getting back in the saddle

She was out of the saddle for six weeks following the operation in October. But she didn’t stay away from her horses for too long. “Just over four weeks after my operation, I may not have been back in the saddle but I was back in the driver’s seat with an extremely fresh Dougal.”

Helen got the all clear from the surgeon in late November, and that very morning she was back hacking. “I only went for a short walk, the six weeks felt like a lifetime. I was so happy.”

Upon finishing her miles Helen said, “I did it in just under 11 months. I’m so pleased with myself, especially considering I had back surgery last October. I’m already six days into my 2019 challenge!”

Could you Hack 1000 Miles? Find out more about our fun, free, achievable challenge here.

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