The Hack 1,000 Miles challenge has helped one rider grow in confidence.

Nicole Tizard struggled with her nerves, but found the challenge gave her a push to get out of her comfort zone with cob pony Zorro.

“Because I’m a nervous rider, I thought if I can focus on something, it’ll get me out and doing it,” says Nicole. “And it did, in all weathers, so I’m really proud of myself for doing that.”

It took 59-year-old Nicole two-and-a-half years to complete the distance, but her slow and steady approach helped to gently build up confidence. By giving herself small targets to reach, such as riding to the local pub, she solidified her progress.

“The first year was painfully slow,” she confesses. “I only did a mile at a time. I’d go from one lamp post to another lamp post and think ‘I’ve got this’, and I’d carry on and on. Before I know it I’d have reached the pub and could turn around and go back.

“Then I got a bit braver, and by the end of the challenge I was doing three or four miles at a time, which I never thought I’d do.”

Nicole’s partner for the challenge was 13.2hh piebald cob Zorro, whom she has shared for seven years. Once too scared to venture out alone, the pair now ride out solo.

“Solo hacks were a big no-no for me, so learning that I could do that was a big achievement,” says Nicole, who works at the pharmacy counter at Boots. “So was not getting off every time I saw a motorbike or trailer, because I used to get off a lot.”

Now she has completed the challenge, Nicole has decided to sign up to do it again.

“I’ve persuaded my neighbour Jo to sign up to do it with me,” she says. “I might do it a bit quicker this time.”

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