Taking part in Your Horse’s Hack 1,000 Miles has helped one rider get her horse into shape — dropping down a gullet size in the process. Alison Roberts completed the challenge with her 14-year-old coloured Irish cob Dan in just eight months.

“This is the first year I’ve hit the miles,” says Alison, 52. “Last year I reached about 780 miles, but I’m doing a lot more mileage now, which has been really good for me and Dan. He is a bit of a greedy cob and holds onto his weight, so doing longer hacks has been really beneficial. He’s looking really good and dropped a lot of weight. He dropped down a gullet size in his saddle — the saddle fitter couldn’t believe it!”

‘Learning to tow was really scary’

Alison and Dan are pleasure ride pros now!

Alison, who is based in south Lincolnshire, also found that the challenge helped improve her confidence in hacking as well as towing Dan in her trailer.

“Where I am, we don’t have many bridlepaths. We’ve got one within a 10-mile radius, so it’s a lot of road work,” says Alison, who decided to try doing some pleasure rides.

“I was dying to get off the roads and get to some places where we could have a canter and enjoy the countryside. So I learned to tow, which was really scary.

“When you’ve got your prize possession and best mate in the back of the trailer you do get nervous because you just don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Finding a hacking buddy

Alison joined the Rutland and Leicestershire Bridleway Association to take part in their pleasure ride in Exton.

“I messaged them and asked if there would be anyone who would be willing to ride with me because I hadn’t done one before or ridden one on my own,” explains Alison, who works as head of accounts at Mr Fothergill Seeds.

“So they paired me up with someone and I met her there. She had just got her horse three weeks before, so she had no idea what he was going to be like but was more than happy to ride with me.

“We had the most amazing ride, and we still meet up together to go for rides.”

‘It’s all about confidence’

During lockdown, Alison took the opportunity to master hacking out alone.

“I got my husband to come out on his bike, and then got going on my own and ramped up the miles,” says Alison. “It’s all about confidence. Unfortunately, when menopause kicks in, some of that disappears a bit, which is a shame because I’m not an unconfident person.

“Getting out solo has probably been the biggest achievement for me. For Dan, it is dropping the weight and getting fitter.”

Have you heard about Your Horse’s #FitNotFat campaign, which is supported by Dodson & Horrell? Equine obesity is an enormous welfare problem and we’re on a mission to provide owners and riders with the knowledge, skills and information you need to keep your horse in tip-top health. It could be life saving! Find out more

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