#Hack1000Miles in partnership with Wintec Saddles

Hacking a horse, or trail riding, makes up a portion of many equestrians’ time spent in the saddle. It’s a great way to spend time with your horse and boasts so many benefits that it deserves to be celebrated – we created the #Hack1000Miles challenge for a reason! But if hacking is how you spend most of your time, how do you feel about being labelled as a ‘happy hacker’?

We at Your Horse believe every rider should be able to claim the term if they wish. If you’re on the fence, here are a few signs that you might be one…

1 You have an extensive high vis wardrobe

You need to stay safe and visible whilst hacking out, whether you do roadwork or prefer bridleways. From tabards and hat bands to neck straps and fluorescent quarter sheets, both you and your horse will have plenty of safety equipment in a variety of colours to suit every ride. Bonus points if you ride with flashing lights.

2 Your horse takes you to the yard gate, not the arena, when you mount up

They say you get to know your horse like the back of your hand – but your horse knows you too. And if you’re a happy hacker, they likely know you’d much rather leave the yard for a hack than go into the school.

3 It’s your favourite way to unwind

What’s the first thing you think about doing after a stressful day? If long bridleways or grass tracks sound like the perfect way to canter away from your troubles, you might be a happy hacker.

4 You’re constantly checking what time the sun will set

Glued to your weather app waiting for the days to get long enough that you can finally squeeze in a quick half an hour ride around the block? You’ve got hacking on the brain.

5 You have multiple map apps on your phone

Phone full to the brim with apps that can plan your route or track your ride? You don’t want to miss a mile or get lost, so better safe than sorry.

6 You let your horse pick the route

When you’ve got plenty of time ahead and your trusty steed knows all the ways home, do you let them pick what route you’ll ride? Not every rider has this kind of partnership with their horse, and it’s one that takes many hours in the saddle to build.

What do the #Hack1000Miles challengers think?

‘Happy hacker’. The term is Marmite amongst riders: they either love it or hate it. I asked the riders in our Hack 1,000 Miles Facebook group for their thoughts on the term ‘happy hacker’ and whether they use it, and here are their thoughts…

Those who consider themselves happy hackers…

Plenty of riders use the term, as the results above suggest.

“I absolutely am,” says Hannah Leslie. “I do other stuff too, but hacking is what I enjoy the most. I don’t have the brain power for schooling, and my horse hates it unless jumps are involved!”

“Yep, I mainly ride out solo,” says Marie Jane Harper. “A good hacking horse is a skill in itself. There are lots of obstacles along the way, and there are many mental benefits. You can school on a hack too; it’s such a good training platform.”

“I’m a very happy hacker and a self-confessed fair weather rider!” admits Abbi Thorpe. “I don’t mind minus temperatures and snow, but if it’s raining I don’t even step outside the door.”

“I am a happy hacker, but I do lots of other things as well – jump, flat work and pleasure rides,” says Lynda Buckingham.

Those who don’t use the term…

But the phrase has garnered some flack over the years, particularly as other equestrians can use it in a derivative way, because they don’t compete.

“I refuse to use the term ‘happy hacker’,” says Hannah Gardner. “I prefer ‘off road equestrian’ or ‘horseback rambler’.”

“I think ‘happy hacker’ is a dreadful term,” says Janice Bridger. “Hacking is the ultimate test of trust; I think an alternate term is needed.”

This content is brought to you in partnership with Wintec Saddles, durable, comfortable, easy-care, weather-proof saddles for everyone.

Lead image: Charlie Gooders Photography

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