“I have not only enjoyed the challenge, but I am so proud of my pony for completing it all,” said Julie Willliss after completing her #Hack1000Miles challenge aboard her 14.1hh Connemara pony, Donut.
“We absolutely love hacking, and the challenge meant I was achieving a real goal doing something I love,” she continued.
Julie first signed up to Hack 1,000 Miles in 2019, but missed the target due the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions being put into place.
“I wasn’t sure whether I was allowed to ride or not,” she said, “so I didn’t want to risk it.
“I initially joined to help motivate me to go hacking alone more.
“I am retired, and most of my friends who I ride with are younger than me and work or have families,” added Julie.
Julie decided to restart the challenge last year, while the roads were still quiet due to Covid restrictions.
“It worked in my favour because the roads and my hacking on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire were very quiet,” she said. “It gave me and Donut the opportunity to get our confidence hacking out alone.”
Suffering a loss
Partway through the challenge, Julie’s closest riding friend Shannon had to have her pony, Manny, put to sleep.
“Carrying on after that was the hardest part of the challenge,” Julie said. “We were both devastated.
“It was difficult after that to make myself do the necessary 20 or so miles each week to make the target attainable.
“But the challenge motivated me to do it, and without it I certainly wouldn’t have got out there hacking anywhere near as much, continued Julie.
Julie also joined the #Hack1000Miles Facebook group, which is full of other riders completing the challenge, and can be a good place to find support and motivation.
“I enjoy looking at the posts from the other hackers. It’s lovely to see photos of their horses and the countryside they hack in,” said Julie.