Spring has sprung – but has your hacking motivation? Riders share motivational tips to get you in the saddle

Mel Beale
Mel Beale

As we approach the end of the 2022/23 Hack 1,000 Miles challenge – which concludes on 31st March 2023 – you still have time to squeeze in some more miles. Whether you’ll ride your 1000th mile, 500th or just reach 100, you won’t regret making the most of these last few days to top up your total.

But even knowing we’re so close to the end, it can be tricky to find the motivation to get up and out.

Caitlin shared her struggles with finding the motivation to ride in the Hack 1,000 Miles Facebook group

When one rider shared her difficulties with riding consistently, the challengers in the Hack 1,000 Miles Facebook group were more than happy to share advice and support.

“I’m really struggling this year – I ended up being away for a lot of various reasons, but then when I’m home I’m struggling to get myself out and going,” shared Caitlin Bunce. “I lost my two regular riding buddies, which hasn’t helped. I end up riding alone a lot, which is fine, but when I’m already tired it becomes very easy to bail.

“I’m aiming for a final season of trec, so I seriously need to crack on and get fit, but I need some motivation!” she added.

So if you’re also struggling to get going, here are a few things to help you start totting up those all important miles…

1. Set a goal

Start with a goal – like Caitlin – but picking something with a date or deadline you need to work towards will give you that extra push.

“Mine is Man v Horse, so we need to be fit by June,” said Hannah Leslie. “I also had a pleasure ride last weekend I had an aim for – I wanted to be 15-mile fit. So I’ve forced myself out more than ever.”

2. Try a change of scenery

If you’ve been stuck riding the same three routes all winter, no wonder you’re bored of riding out. Have a look for new routes to try or enter a pleasure ride.

“Sometimes a change of scenery can be a great boost,” advised Emma Moffat. “I’ve been away for a couple of days in the New Forest, which my cob loved – he had become bored with our limited hacking at home.”

3. Do it first thing

When mucking out, filling haynets and poo picking are all on the agenda, riding can quickly drop to the bottom of the list. But prioritising it by getting out first can make sure you enjoy a quick ride.

“It’s hard when you’re mostly out by yourself. I’m the same – it’s easy to talk yourself out of it,” agreed Anne McEwen. “I’m trying to hack out before doing other things, even if it’s just for 30 minutes.”

4. Think about your horse

On the days when you don’t want to ride for yourself, take a look at it from your horse’s perspective. Have they been in their stable all day? Or perhaps hacking is their favourite way to unwind? It might also be that it’s good for their health, and to keep the weight off.

“I keep telling myself it’s for the benefit of my horse,” said Emma Burrows. “He has arthritis and Cushing’s, so I need to make the most of the time he is still able to be ridden.”

5. Double up where you can

It can feel twice as hard if you know you have two horses to exercise, and can sometimes mean you don’t ride either. But why go twice – or not at all – if you can take them out together?

“You can only do what you can do. I forced myself to hack out leading another horse the other day as it was my day off, so I compromised by riding and leading,” shared Paula Wroath. “I just did a 30 minute trot ride rather than a pleasant hack.”

If you choose to ride and lead out on a hack, make sure you’ve practised in the arena or a safe enclosed space first and that the horses get along – the last thing you want is an argument mid-hack.

6. Make the most of the time you have

Sometimes, we need to look at the bigger picture. It’s all too easy to say you’ll ride tomorrow, but if it chucks it down with rain, you’ll regret missing the sunshine of the previous day. Get out whilst you can so you don’t miss out later.

“Winter is the worst for getting out and about. I only ride twice a week, and then from mid-March to April when the weather gets better this increases to three or four rides a week,” said Mike Mills. “I’m a 12-hour shift worker, so days off are for seeing the views [from horseback]. If I don’t go out, I’ll miss them and be back at work again.”

7. Motivation is a mindset

It’s all too easy to sit around and wait for the ‘oomph’ to ride, but it might not come.

“I realised a few years ago that motivation doesn’t exist. You just have to book it in the diary and do it,” said Kathy Oconnor. “If I have any hesitation, I give myself a countdown from five and go out the door. It’s really hard sometimes, but always worthwhile once you’re out.”

Head out with the mindset that you’ll only do ten minutes – then you can get off if you’ve had enough, but once you’re on, you’re more likely to enjoy it and continue for a longer ride.

8. Don’t put the pressure on

Remember – riding is our hobby, and it should be fun. Hacking out in the windy, wet or cold weather isn’t particularly enjoyable, so don’t feel bad if you don’t fancy heading out every day.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. This time of year is always hard – it feels like winter will never end,” said Louise Williams. “I’ve now just accepted that my boy won’t be as fit as I’d like over winter. We just do what we can when the weather allows, knowing that we can pick up once lighter nights and better weather comes.”

The 2023/24 Hack 1,000 Miles challenge launches on 1 April. Stay tuned for more updates, hacking motivation and inspirational stories. You can find our Hack 1000 Miles Facebook page here and sign up to track your miles on our leaderboard here.  We will be giving away our popular tracking card to log all your miles, as well as sharing your hacking stories from the past year, pictures and lots more, with the Hack 1,000 Miles relaunch magazine special, on sale on 27 April.

Profile image of Mel Beale Mel Beale


Mel is a writer, photographer and content producer who contributes to both the print and digital aspects of Your Horse. She joined the team in 2021 after graduating with a 1st class honours degree in Equine Sports Science. Mel has owned horses from a young age, including thoroughbreds, sport horses and RSPCA rescues. She currently has two horses - Irish sports horse Romeo, who she's owned for 10 years, and ex-racehorse Alfie, who she is currently re-training. Want to get in touch? Email

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