One rider has completed the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge on her arthritic horse, overcoming the mare’s primary sinusitis which required treatment by trepanation — where a hole is drilled into the skull — in the process.
Sam Ottaway has owned Irish Sport Horse mare Brodie (pictured above) since 2011.
“She went into the vets as an emergency on Easter Monday 2020, and it was a good month before we could do anything,” says Sam.
“She ended up with jugular vein thrombosis, which meant that her head swelled up. That vein doesn’t really work anymore; luckily she has another one but she still gets small swellings now and again.”
Once Brodie recovered, the pair continued the challenge and finished in 18 months — six months after Sam’s initial goal of a year.
“We started in February 2020 and then went into lockdown in March. The timing wasn’t great,” admits Sam, who has previously completed Brooke’s 100-mile Hackathon.
She was also left devastated when vets diagnosed the mare with arthritis after four years together.
“I remember them saying to me that lots of horses have arthritis, so don’t be so concerned, as most people don’t even know,” continues Sam.
“She has some very good supplements from the vets, and good treatments as well. The main thing it stopped us doing was jumping really.
“It’s amazing how quickly they get older. One minute they’re in their prime, and the next you think ‘how on earth did she get to 17 years old?'”
After giving up jumping, Sam found a new focus in the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge.
“I’d seen it in Your Horse magazine and thought, ‘crikey, 1,000 miles is a long way’. We absolutely love hacking, that’s Brodie’s thing now; she was very good at jumping, but I think she loves hacking,” says Sam, who lives in Kent.
“With the arthritis, keeping her mobile is a priority too. I think she loves going to new places and she loves a view — she stops wherever she is and takes the whole vista in.
“Brodie is a horse with a joy for life,” adds Sam. “She’s a chestnut mare — but don’t hold that against her!”