One rider has completed the Hack 1,000 Miles challenge for a second time with her Irish cob. Rosie Martin and Larry completed the first 1,000 miles in just ten months, and the second in an incredible seven months.

Before the pair embarked on the second stint of the challenge, Larry was diagnosed with the eye condition uveitis.

“It’s the leading cause of blindness in horses, but the vet says we’re managing it well,” says Rosie, 56. “It’s a lifelong condition, but thankfully it’s only in one eye. He’s recovered from three bouts – he now has to wear a mask 24/7 when he’s out in the field, and goggles when I ride him.”

Initially, Larry found his required eyewear difficult.

“I tried a few different masks, and he was quite suspicious and spooky in those. Then I tried the goggles and he took to those really well,” explains Rosie. “I wear bright blue shades in solidarity – we attract a lot of comments!”

Rosie says the pair often receive comments about their matching blue shades

Whilst wearing the goggles is vital to protect Larry’s eyes, they have presented problems in wet weather.

“On our last hack out, we got back to my lorry and I checked his goggles – they were covered in muck and were steamed up inside. There’s no way he could see out,” says Rosie, who is based in Somerset and makes the most out of hacking around the Mendips. “But he’d been hoof-perfect and I’d had no idea when riding him – he just marched forwards. A friend said it shows just how much trust he has in me. He’s incredible.”

‘He sat on my neighbour’s wall’

It’s a far cry from how the pair started out, as Rosie admits Larry napped frequently when she first got him.

“He was so nappy when I first got him – I think he’ll always be a pony who resorts to a bit of napping – and we’ve had a few hairy moments in the past,” shares Rosie. “One time he parked his backend on our neighbour’s wall.

“It was difficult to get him out of the yard alone, but a lot of time, patience and practise both in the saddle and in hand means we do that often now – I even box him up alone to hack out now. I’d never imagined I would hack out alone, let alone travel him to a strange place and ride a route I’d never done before. Our sense of achievement from doing that is immense.”

A dream come true

Before getting Larry, Rosie hadn’t ridden in over 40 years.

“I always wanted a horse, but life didn’t allow it. Then all of a sudden in 2020 I realised my kids were teenagers, my husband was just about amenable to me having a horse, and so I bought him,” she says. “He was only six, so we’ve learned a lot together. I had more confidence than ability, but it’s allowed to me to get out there and have fun.”

Rosie comes from a family who enjoy long-distance challenges, so it’s no surprise how well she has taken to completing Your Horse’s Hack 1,000 Miles challenge.

“We’re all very determined and know what we like. My brother hikes and my sister climbs huge mountains – we’re actually climbing the Pyrenees together,” says Rosie. “Hacking with Larry is like an extension of that – I love sharing the experience with him.”

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