‘He throws a big buck’ — English teacher defeats nerves to pull off 1,000 Miles

Sarah Johnson.jpg

Another rider has passed through the finish flags — congratulations Sarah Johnson and Rhino for hacking 1,000 miles!

Sarah says the challenge has worked wonders on her confidence when hacking solo, and she has learned how best to deal with her horse’s exuberant behaviour.

“As a little extra Christmas present in 2016, my parents popped a copy of Your Horse Magazine under the tree. In it was an article launching the #Hack1000Miles challenge and it got me thinking,” says Sarah, an English teacher.

“I worked out roughly how far I hacked in the average week and thought it was possible if we got a wriggle on and made the most of opportunities to ride.” 

Sarah and Rhino completed their #hack1000miles challenge within 16 months, fitting in hacks around moving house, snowy weather and school trips. 

“Weekends supervising Duke of Edinburgh expeditions took out a few days’ riding – I wonder if anyone would notice if I supervise on horseback next year?” laughs Sarah. 

Making progress

Sarah credits #hack1000miles with giving her the incentive to push her boundaries when riding Rhino, a 17-year-old Lusitano gelding. 

“Once fit, he became very lively and could throw some massive bucks. I became very nervous of him and I tried to manage every situation by holding him back,” confesses Sarah.

“I was very fortunate to have an experienced friend riding out with me often and they challenged me to ride differently. 

“Learning to keep riding forward and to use the power of the long, slow outbreath to dispel my nerves were the keys to making progress with Rhino and we haven’t looked back. 

“He can still throw a big buck when he’s cantering up one of his favourite tracks, but it’s out of enjoyment rather than a tantrum, so we laugh and keep going forward.”

For Sarah, taking on the challenge has resulted in a big step in the right direction as far as hacking without company goes.

“Over the last few months we have gone much further, explored new rides and tackled some of the livelier ones that I would previously have avoided on my own,” adds Sarah. “We still love going out in company, but we are also much happier on our own now.”  

Staying motivated

For anyone struggling with the motivation to hack, Sarah has the following advice.

“Enjoy it, and be prepared to push the boundaries of your confidence. Celebrating success and identifying why a ride was good helps to build on our strengths,” she says. 

“We have a tendency to carry all of the things that have gone wrong, which can be useful to learn from, but the negative can become an unhelpful focus.” 

Sarah and Rhino are now 228 miles into their next 1,000 miles.

“I’m aiming to complete within a year,” she says. “With horses, you never know what’s around the corner, so I just want to make the most of the time I have to ride and enjoy my beautiful, brave Rhino.”


Can you Hack 1000 Miles? Find out more about the fun, free, achievable challenge here.