Sometimes in life you need someone to lead the charge, to inspire and to guide you in the right direction and for a challenge like #Hack1000Miles this person is Your Horse reader, Tracey Sawyer.
Tracey Sawyer LOVES to hack. Not just a little bit, not just every now and then, she likes to hack A LOT. In fact, she likes hacking so much that she's known in her local area (and beyond!) as THE person to go to if you want help building your hacking confidence or discovering exciting new routes. Did we mention that she has a full time job? Yep, she does but this doesn't stop her from riding six or seven days a week - she finds any way she can to get more hours in the saddle. She's a #hackinginspiration!
But hacking hasn't always been Tracey favourite thing to do, in fast, she used to hate it! "I used to be completely terrified to hack out, it wasn't something I looked forward to but now I love it," she says. "I wanted to be able to hack out on my horse Mirrie because she enjoyed it so I took it slow and gradually built my confidence up. I've learnt how to keep me and Mirrie safe and how to avoid any situation where I won't know what to do."
Why Tracey's pledged to #Hack1000Miles
"As soon as I heard about the #Hack1000Miles challenge I wanted to get involved," says Tracey. "I already hack out regularly and average about 50 miles per week. I compete in endurance and this year I'll be entering Open and Advanced, 64kms and 80kms rides. I’m also going to be a Volunteer Access Officer for the BHS. I know I hack out more than most people but I believe that anyone could achieve this goal if they wanted to, and there are so many good reasons to give it a go:
- It gives you something to aim for and to work towards
- It's a great way to have fun with your horse
- If could help you to meet new people and make new friends
- You can enjoy the countryside with your horse and feel empowered to improve your riding skills
- It could really help to boost your riding confidence and even your self esteem
"I'd also urge people to give it a go because hacking can do wonders for your relationship with your horse," she says. "I love to explore the countryside with my horse Mirrie. It's helped us to form a really strong partnership, it's great for her emotional and physical well being (and mine!), it promotes independence, confidence, trust and our communication is better than ever. I've got to know my horse better than I could have going round and round a school and because of the experiences we've had together, she's accepted that she's safe with me, wherever we are. Just by hacking, our bond has been strengthened."
Tracey's challenge tips
1. Start slowly and build up
"You don't have to do 1000 miles this week! Start slowly and see what's manageable for you and your horse. You'll be amazed at how quickly you clock up the miles."
2. Hack with others
"Hacking with others is a great idea, especially if you're a little nervous," explains Tracey. "Go with a competent rider who's not on a Novice horse , or if you don't have friends at the yard who want to hack, search the web for hacking groups to join. You'll find lots on Facebook and perhaps even one in your areas you never knew existed! If you want to hack further afield and don't have transport ask around to find a friend who might be able to share lifts - it will give them an excuse and travel to new locations too."
3. Stay safe
"I'm a gold BHS member which means I'm covered for liability and this is wise if you hack out," says Tracey. "You can also take simple measures such as tagging your saddle with your contact details and the contact details of people who can be called in case of emergency - or if you and your horse part company! Some riders like to use a phone app which can track where you are or send out an alert if you're unseated. It's also a good idea to have important phone numbers saved in your phone as favourites or on speed dial so that you know you can make contact quickly."
Follow Tracey on Twitter! Search @TSMEndurance
Essential hacking kit
A seasoned hacker, Tracey knows what she needs to have with her on every hack. Here she reveals her essential hacking kit list:
- A properly secured riding hat - your head is precious!
- Wear Hi Viz even in countryside - it increases visibility, for rescue purposes and makes you visible on the roads. There's no excuse not to wear it. It could save your life
- A medical pack just in case of injuries to patch up horse and rider
- A map if you are exploring (GPS isn't always reliable)
- A fully charged phone
- A lead rope
Join in and have fun!
Beyond all else, Tracey's as our #Hack1000Miles ambassador is to encourage you to have fun...something she has no trouble with! "Every time you hack out with your horse, enjoy every second," she says. "Do fun things (confidence allowing) like riding through shallow brooks, popping over logs, experience different terrain, explore forests, heaths, woods and beaches - the possibilities are endless and you're sure to have some great adventures. If you're less of a thrill seeker why not hack to a friendly pub and enjoy a meal or drink with your hacking buddy? Having fun could even be as simple at taking some pictures to remind you of your experience - you can post them online using the hashtag #hack1000miles to share with fellow hackers too. But most of all, be passionate and enjoy the time with your horse."