Kirstie Worswick took 11 months to complete the Hack1000Miles challenge with her two Friesian horses, Poppy and son Neo.

The Worksop-based rider bought Poppy when she was in foal six years ago and backed Neo herself.

“All three of us came on a lot during the challenge. I had confidence issues from previous horses so my friends and boyfriend cycled out with me to start with,” said Kirstie.

“It also helped persuade me to hack through the cold and miserable winter. The highlight for me was seeing how Neo grew and became more confident. I took him on a holiday to the Lakes where we rode over the fells and we really bonded.”

‘She’s a brave mare’

Having arrived in their new home when Neo was just seven days old, Kirstie brought Poppy back into work herself.

“She is a brave mare and helped build my confidence as my trust grew in her and she showed me we could go anywhere on our own,” said Kirstie.

“We had a carriage driving accident a few years ago where Poppy lost her confidence so the challenge helped to give me something to aim for as I slowly built that back.

“We competed in endurance GB this year, which was a huge achievement.”

Kirstie has now restarted the challenge and aims to complete it with both horses individually this year.

“I’ve started logging their miles separately for the next challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing how far we can go in the next 12 months.”

‘I ride on the buckle’

Kirstie believes in keeping horses as naturally as possible in their ridden work.

“I have been riding bitless for nearly 14 years after my instructor introduced me to it and I haven’t put a bit in one of my horse’s mouths since. I ride both in a hackamore and compete Poppy in one too.

“She can become strong at our endurance competitions so this allows for more pressure when required but also no pressure as I generally ride on the buckle,” explained Kirstie.

Kirstie also keeps her horses barefoot.

“Poppy was barefoot when I got her so I didn’t see the point in putting shoes on her. She copes really well and occasionally I use renegade boots if I need to.

“The added benefit is I never have the disappointment of waking up to find my horse has lost a shoe,” said Kirstie.

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