One rider has completed Your Horse’s #Hack1000Miles challenge in nine months while battling with a hidden illness.

Michelle Williams, who signed up for the challenge in April 2021, suffers from fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes widespread pain all over the body.

“Living with fibromyalgia is tough,” says Michelle. “I’m in pain daily and it never goes away. Some days aren’t as bad as others, but the pain is always there.

“From joint and bone pain in my back, hips, ankles, feet and shoulders, to muscle cramps and loss of grip in my hands. Some days it means it’s difficult to do daily chores, both at the stables and at home,” continues Michelle.

“One of the most frustrating symptoms is the fatigue — you have no control over it, it just hits you.”

Mental health benefits

Michelle, who rides a New Forest gelding called Floyd, has found the riding beneficial to her health, despite the pain she battles through.

“Riding helps me keep active and exercises my muscles, and helps stop me from becoming stiff,” she explains. “Hack 1,000 Miles gave me the ability to try to forget about my daily pain and keep going.

“Although I would suffer after riding, it always makes me feel better.”

Spending time with Floyd, whom Michelle has owned for two years, has also benefited the rider’s mental health.

“I have to be relaxed when I get on, as he’s a sensitive soul. He picks up if I’m tense, so riding helps me switch off the negative feelings and stress,” says Michelle, who works as a pharmacy dispenser at a GP.

“I live in beautiful North Wales and I’m blessed with lots of off-road hacks with fabulous scenery. I worked through lockdown, so riding was my escape.

“I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone by hacking out on my own more,” adds Michelle. “This challenge gave me the motivation to ride more.”

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue

Check out our latest subscription offer