A rider has completed the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge in just nine months, and shared details of their inspiring journey with Your Horse.

Pip Mead, with 14-year-old Dales pony Archie, completed the 2022/23 challenge in less than a year despite farmer Pip missing the first month (April 2022) due to work commitments.

“We lamb during April, so I don’t have time to ride at all. Archie gets a month off,” says Pip, 57. “When I started I thought it’s so far, but once we got going the miles just kept ticking over.”

Preparing for longer distances

Getting fit was the key to Pip and Archie completing the challenge

Despite their initial setback, the pair made up for lost time by focusing on building up the fitness they’d need to tackle longer rides.

“I started getting Archie fit in January 2022 before the challenge started so we could build up to some longer rides,” explains Pip. “Part of the reason I signed up was to give myself something to aim for with getting us both fit.”

Pip gradually built up the distances they were covering until they were doing three hacks a week, including one longer one.

“I tried to do one long ride a week, which would be anything over 15 miles, and then a couple of shorter ones that are nine or ten miles,” says Pip on how they completed the challenge. “We’ve got a lot of hills, and we didn’t go particularly fast, so it could take five or six hours for a long ride.”

Snags along the way

No partnership can ride 1,000 miles without a bump in the road – or in this case, a dry stone wall.

“I’ve encountered a few padlocked gates that shouldn’t have been locked whilst on rides. One day I was heading towards home after a long ride to find the gate at the end of the track had been locked,” says Pip. “Fortunately the gate was on a dry stone wall, so I dismounted, took down some stones, lead Archie over and then built it again!”

Making the most of the miles

The pair reaped plenty of rewards from upping their fitness, including making the most of the weather.

“Summer was amazing, the weather was so lovely,” reminisces Pip. “The heather was spectacular – there was just a beautiful purple all over and it smells so sweet. Getting so much fitter meant we’ve been riding further, so have explored places I’ve never been before and found lots of new bridleways.”

It also meant that they quickly totted up the miles, and capitalised on Archie’s new-found stamina with a riding holiday.

“I did a six day ride around the Yorkshire Moors in June with my friend Sam. We did 75 miles in six days, which added a lot to my total,” says Pip. “It was our first time doing anything like it, so we decided not to rough it – we stayed in a couple of B&Bs in farm houses, a pub, and a very posh static caravan; everywhere had grazing for the horses.”

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