Saturday, 19 February 2011

Return of the Happy Hacker

Finally today, after many months of 'thinking about it' I made it out today on a hack. This is a big moment and marks the return of the happy hacker.

You see for many years hacking was horse riding to me...the schooling stuff was a means to an end, thing that just happened the weeks in between ..... I swear I learned to canter while out pony trekking, with a yell over a shoulder of 'just hang on to the front of the saddle and you'll be fine'. It was not a collected composed experience, and I am sure I am still trying to right bad habits in the school learned through just getting on with it in big open spaces.

photo by Graham Lewis on Flickr
Creative Commons 2.0
 As a child I lived for a few years in Oban in Argyll. We spent a lot of time driving the hundred miles back and forth to Glasgow so that less adapted family could get a fix of city life.
Not for me the city (in those days)  I spent the long drive back to Oban gazing out the window fixated with the countryside.

The drive up to Argyll is dramatic and beautiful, changing through hills and forests to bare hillsides of falling shale where trees had been felled. The whole drive the eight year old me imagined myself riding, as we whizzed past the fields and the fences, I saw every inch of the landscape was there to be ridden in my imagination - cantering across, ditches, fences, my mind raced on horseback the whole journey back home. Hacking held no fear in those days.

Then things changed. I had my incident on the flighty racehorse many years back, and stayed away from horses a long while after. When I came back to riding a couple of years ago, all I wanted to do was go on a hack, still no real sense of fear. But when I finally did all changed.

The minute we got into an open field and somewhere in my subconscious, everything to do with Sam, that feeling of no control came back to me. A switch flicked, the colour drained from my face and my seat became electric. Needless to the sense of alarm in my whole body quickly got through to the horse, and I had a hack fraught with bucking, bolting and unplanned gallops. That was a year ago and I rode the painful journey back to the stables, my hands blistered with the battle of wills that had ensued, dismounted with relief to have my life in my hands. I swore as I sat quaking for 2 hours afterwards I would be happy never to go out on a hack again in my life.

Craigengillan Horses
Well the eight year old girl inside me just wouldn't let it lie, not at all happy with the notion that you could close that happy chapter.
Today marks the moment when the return of the childhood exhilaration of horse riding in through the open country, either in reality of just imagined, was once again tangible.

The scenery was wonderful through my beautiful Craigengillan Estate. My trusty stead, Trio, a beautiful grey, in need of just the right amount of encouragement to keep up as we cantered through the woodland path and only got slightly twitchy at a creaking tree - isn't it peculiar the things that set them off ? And so with delight my riding friend Jane and I will make the short jaunt to Craigengellan again for great riding, lovely scenery and good natured horses again, very, very soon!


  1. Wow, that estate looks amazing! Your ride sounds like it was magic.

  2. So happy for your return to hacking out. I also gazed out of car windows at meadows and fields - ours not nearly as perfect as yours. I spent (and still do) spend way too much time looking at books and photos of the perfect place to hack. I think you found it. You are so fortunate. My hacks out have never included galloping - I just feel like walking and enjoying all the beauty.
    Congratulations for your return!

  3. The scenery is gorgeous...if you ever find yourself out this way, it's well worth a visit.

    I'm a bit like you Juliette, sometimes I'd rather just relax and enjoy the outdoors, but a canter is lovely. Not too sure I would on your boys though... they would probably do a Sam!