#Hack1000Miles in partnership with Equisafety

There’s nothing better than a sunny summer hack, but to enjoy them fully, you need to build your horse’s fitness – and this usually starts in the winter when the weather is rather cold, wet and dreary. It’s no surprise that even with those better days in mind, motivation to put in the miles now can wane, especially with the torrents of rain most of the UK has been experiencing in the past couple of months.

One rider shared such worries in our Hack 1,000 Miles Facebook group, where challenge participants can post the ups and inevitable downs, share their photos and videos, and ask for advice.

“Does anyone have any top tips on how to beat the winter blues?” posted Helen Chester. “I’ve lost motivation to ride in the rain. I’m so very fed up of being cold, wet and muddy, and I’m feeling rubbish because I’ve not got the will to get on in the rain!”

Fellow #Hack1000Miles challengers flocked to the comments to share their advice, including the pearls of wisdom we’ve included below…

1. Wear the right gear

The worst part about riding in the rain is getting wet – so eliminate this problem by investing in waterproof gear that will keep you and your saddle dry.

“Get some decent wet weather clothing,” advised Chris Peat. “I used to see it as a challenge to ride in the rain and not get wet.”

If you need to replenish your wardrobe or are looking for new pieces, check out our product reviews of waterproof jackets, riding coats, overtrousers and gloves to find the gear that keeps you dry and comfortable.

2. Head out in company

Is there anything better than heading out for a hack and a chat with a good friend? Going out with another rider keeps you accountable, whilst having a nice natter as you ride can make the time pass faster, help you stay confident and distract you from the worst of the weather.

“Company makes a difference – it’s so hard to stay motivated alone,” admitted Sally Chaplin. “A friend I haven’t seen for years brought her horse over and we hacked for a couple of hours in disgusting weather but because it was all arranged I was absolutely fine and had a lovely time.”

“The best way I found was to find someone who will ride with me,” agreed Debs Robb. “That pushed me to ride.”

3. Choose the right route

With all the rain we’ve been having, most bridleways and tracks will be muddy, and possibly unusable or blocked. Instead, you may have to try some new routes or increase the amount of roadwork you are doing.

“I find I’m doing more road work at the moment. It’s the only way to stay clean and dry,” said Zoe Morton.

4. Go out in hand

The thought of grooming a muddy horse and then tacking up and knowing you’ll have a dirty girth and saddle to clean when you get back can put off any rider if their motivation is already low. If you find this to be a barrier to getting out, they focus on hacking in-hand or doing groundwork instead.

“It takes three times as long scraping the mud off sufficiently to tack up, and then all the bridleways are swamps! I’ve been practising groundwork in the arena and giving my horses plenty of TLC instead of hacking,” said Becky Clare.

“I have been walking in hand a lot so my horse and I don’t even have to take our coats off, but we are still getting out,” added Anne McEwen.

5. Think about your horse

Sometimes if you can’t spur yourself on, knowing that your horse needs to get out and stretch their legs can do the trick. If they’ve been stuck in their stable or need to get out of the mud for an hour, a hack can be the solution. Beyond that, perhaps they have health problems that necessitate exercise, whether that’s weight to lose, stiff legs from arthritis, or muscular problems. Knowing that a quick walk around the block is what they need can kick you into gear.

“Our horse has PSSM1, so has to be ridden or exercised daily,” said Claire Wall. “That’s all the motivation I need.”

6. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

The awful weather can get even the most motivated of riders down from time to time. Hacking is our hobby, so if you’re really struggling, don’t force yourself to go out when you know you won’t enjoy it.

“Don’t force yourself – unless you have something to aim for that you need to get your horses conditioned and fit for, why put yourself through it?” pointed out Kadie Coleman. “This comes from a self-confessed fair weather happy hacker! Winter won’t last forever; it will get easier.”

7. Sign up for the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge

You can’t ride 1,000 miles in a day – but you can do it in a year, as plenty of riders have demonstrated over the years. If you need something to give you a bit of a boost, signing up to our leaderboard, joining the Facebook group to connect with like-minded riders and getting stuck into the challenge can be just the thing you need.

Watching your mileage creep up week by week is sure to get you fired up. Remember – you don’t need to hit the 1,000 miles to enjoy the challenge. Set a realistic goal for yourself and your horse to achieve – it’s the taking part that counts.

Lead image: Steven J McCormick

This content is brought to you in partnership with Equisafety, high viz clothing for horses and riders. 

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