Each month from April to October 2022, the Your Horse team picked their favourite hacking story shared by one of our #Hack1000Miles challengers. Each winner receives a prize from our sponsor, Wintec Saddles.

Building up confidence

Ella jumping Tanner

We love hearing about how the challenge has helped you and your horses, whether that’s overcoming confidence issues, encouraging you to try new things or just giving you a goal to ride towards.

This was true for gypsy cob Tanner, who was incredibly nervous out hacking.

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

Ella decided to sign up for the challenge after her friend encouraged her to give it a go.

“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.”

Swimming in the sea

Carrie riding Tilly with German Shepherd Tia in the water

Carrie Thomson has owned 20-year-old Highland pony Tilly since she was four years old, and eight-year-old German Shepherd Tia since she was a puppy. Both love the beach and going out on hacks together.

“Tia has started coming out with us on rides in the last two years and they absolutely love it,” says carer Carrie. “I started bringing Tia to the yard when my old dog was ill rather than leave her at home pestering him. I started off by walking them in hand together, and they were so good so I started riding.”

Carrie says it’s something she never thought she’d be able to do, but the bond the three have together is amazing.

“It’s incredible to have Tia out with us. We go for hacks in the woods and at the beach,” says Carrie, 38. “I can let Tia off the lead and Tilly loves to splash in the water. We can go cantering up and down the beach together. I try to go at least once a week as we love it so much.”

A ride to the vets

Jesse riding Bette

Jesse Lowry-Phillips caught our eye when she posted in the Hack 1,000 Miles Facebook group that she was adding up some extra miles by riding her mare Bette to the vets.

“After I’d owned Bette for about six months, she started gaining weight, had prominent milk veins and udders, and kept pushing me towards her backend like she wanted me to feed from her,” says Jesse, who lives in Ireland. “The vets suggested doing a full work up at the practise in case she needed to be sedated.”

Jesse doesn’t own a horse box or have access to transport, so she only had one option: to hack there.

“I rode her there, she had a full check and she’s not pregnant – just a fat cob!” says Jesse, 57. “Fortunately she didn’t have to be sedated so I rode her home afterwards, but the vets had agreed to keep her there for a few hours had she needed to be sedated so I could ride her back.”

Jesse explains that having moved to Ireland from America with her husband, cobs are a new breed to her.

“Bette’s wonderful and a lot of fun,” says Jesse of her 16-year-old mare. “We don’t have many places to ride so go into the town or to the marina. People recognise her now and I carry mints so that kids can feed her. She’s like a bit of a celebrity.”

A mystery solved

Karen Brown with Clover

Lancashire-based Karen Brown has had a tumultuous journey with the now eight-year-old traditional cob Clover. She bought the mare in December 2020, and by 2021 had her suspicions that she was pregnant. Once this was confirmed by the vet, Karen moved Clover to a yard closer to home. Sadly, though, Clover lost her foal.

“I gave her time to recover and then brought her back in to work,” says Karen, 57. “She loves hacking and work, but on the August Bank Holiday we found her in her field unable to walk. Her skin looked like she’d been burned, her heart rate and temperature were through the roof and she had so many blood abnormalities. We didn’t know what was going on.”

A year on and vets are still stumped, but some quick thinking by Karen means that the cause may have been uncovered.

“We wondered if something in her environment had made her unwell because she improved in the winter when stabled,” says Karen, a retired nurse. “I kept a close eye on her when she went back out and in June noticed that she was getting hive-like rashes. I thought it could be the beginning of what she had last year.”

After some research, Karen believes that she has solved the mystery. And the culprit? Clover.

“She has acute signs of clover toxicity, so we think that she’s sensitive to it,” explainsKaren. “We’ve moved her to a different field without clover and she’s currently fine. Therefore, we’re working on the premise that Clover has a problem with clover!”

1,000 miles around the Scottish highlands

Claire Alldritt riding Yogi with Swift behind

Claire Alldritt completed the entire 1,000 miles of the challenge in a three month long adventure around the Scottish highlands.

Paramedic Claire, with Highland cross Thoroughbred Yogi and Appaloosa cross American Quarter Horse Swift, have been going on riding adventures for 10 years. They camp out on route – Claire rides one horse, and the other is a packhorse who carries the equipment, tents and food supplies.

Claire raised an incredible £5,147 for The Ambulance Staff Charity, who provide mental and physical wellbeing and financial stability to staff in the ambulance service.

You can read all about Claire’s incredible journey here.

Riding for road safety

Jane Hoare and Dan (back right) on the Pass Wide & Slow event

One rider organised a Pass Wide and Slow event that saw 40 participants raise awareness of riders on the roads.

Jane Hoare decided to organise the event when a fellow livery returned from a hack in tears after a bad experience with drivers on the road and her horse had bolted.

“All the riders on the yard got together to do it,” says Jane, 58. “Twenty of us rode out, and those who don’t hack joined us on foot, so there was 40 odd of us in total.”

Cheshire-based Jane participated on the ride with her 14 year old Standardbred gelding Dan, who she’s owned for nine years. She planned out a route that would take riders up and down one of the roads that has caused problems for them in the past, as it is connected to a few popular bridlepaths.

“One of the girls from the yard works in a local pub, so we rode up there, had a burger and then went back to the yard. Most drivers waved and were supportive, but a few drove by too quickly and one gave us verbal abuse,” shares Jane, who is a health care support worker for the NHS. “A local councillor and our MP came along too – I think it was good for them to witness how some of the drivers treated us.”

Jane hopes the ride will result in better treatment of horse riders by drivers when riding on the roads, as well as signage to make drivers aware horses are on the roads.

“We also need more horse and rider signs – we have a few bridlepaths, but they come straight out onto a main road and there’s nothing to warn drivers that horses could come out.”

Fluffy friends

Tracy Swindells’ gelding George greeting the alpacas

Vicar Tracy Swindells made us smile when she shared how her gypsy cob George has fallen in love with some local alpacas.

“They moved in to the field that the bridlepath runs through a couple of years ago, and it’s one of our regular rides as we ride over the reservoir and then through the smallholding where the alpacas live,” says Tracy, 55. “The first time George saw them he wasn’t impressed at all – we went through on foot with my husband and dogs a few times, and then he was ok.”

Despite his initial reservations, 13-year-old George, who Tracy has owned since he was four, is now smitten with his new friends.

“Now all he wants to do is kiss them and play with them!” says Tracy. She managed to capture the piebald gelding gently nuzzling one of the alpacas.

When he’s not with his fluffy friends, George is piloted by Tracy on local ride and around Endurance GB events.

“I’ve been doing the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge for a few years now,” says Lancashire-based Tracy. “We also do EGB – the events we do are normally around 25km.”

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