The Hack 1,000 Miles is a challenge like no other, and it’s helped motivate thousands of riders get on their horses and enjoy riding outside of the school. Not only that, but it’s helped to improve the confidence of horses and riders alike, including 21 year old Ella Scott and her rescue cob Tanner.

“Before the challenge, Tanner would spook so much it put me off hacking, especially hacking alone,” says Ella. “I wasn’t used to a horse that was spooky – a bird would fly past and she would run away.”

13hh gypsy cob Tanner had a difficult start in life, as she was kept with 100 other horses in a field that she’d never left until she was rescued.

“She was nine years old when I got her, but I didn’t break her in until she was 10 as I wanted to build trust before I started,” explains Ella, who is a full time student studying equine science. “It was a slow process, because everything was so new and she was a bit older. She was a good girl, she just spooked a lot.”

Ella decided to give the challenge a go after her friend signed up and invited her to the Facebook group. Seeing others take part, sharing their highs and lows, gave Ella the push she needed.

“I went from hacking once in a blue moon to now hacking all the time,” she says. “I think because I kept doing it, I realised that I’m not going to come off or hurt myself. I started to be able to laugh at Tanner spooking, because I knew her so well and sat through so much of her silly behaviour.”

Campaigning for change

As well as having not seen much of the world because of her start in life, Tanner also had a couple of near-misses on the roads that impacted her confidence.

“In December 2020, Tanner and I had a few incidents and we were run off the road by a van,” says Ella, who lives in Wiltshire. “I got in contact with Alan Hiscox at the BHS and from there we had meetings with him and the local council. Six months later we were lucky enough to get permission for signs to go up to educate drivers on how to safely pass horses.”

Ella was also appointed as a volunteer road safety advisor. Part of the role includes spreading awareness on horse safety whilst hacking by putting on talks and speaking about it online.

‘An absolute blast’

Improving Tanner’s confidence has meant she has been able to go to competitions

The pair are now 1,300 miles in – and are reaping the rewards.

“Tanner’s massively improved confidence-wise compared to how she was,” says Ella. “I expect her to spook sometimes and she doesn’t anymore. She’s more relaxed and calm. We don’t go on the same rides every day either.

“For me, the challenge was to gain confidence and motivate me to get out. It’s definitely done that! I never thought I’d being going out on the adventures we do now to places we’ve never been before, but we’re having an absolute blast.”

Tanner’s improvements in confidence have gone beyond hacking. It’s meant that Ella has been able to hack to show jumping lessons, go on fun rides, and even compete in a hunter trial.

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