With lockdown still in place in the UK, I’m not getting my fix through my own long-distance riding. Instead I’m watching (with encouragement) a friend in another country gear up to potentially undertake her first 100% solo trip. She is quite rightly nervous about this challenge, mentioning worries about navigation, pack-bags slipping, avoiding bogs and the hard work of setting up camp (ie corrals) at the end of each day.
As someone who often challenges themselves to the max and who has finally come to realise that isn’t necessarily what it’s all about -this is the advice I offered. It was well received, so thought it might be worth sharing more widely!
Breaking into solo long-distance riding – Top Tips:
- Start out by practicing corralling on day rides so you get used to the annoyance of the setting up faff and the horses get the idea of what you want. Treats scattered on the ground to keep them close during construction might provide training opportunitites.
- Progress to doing numerous short over-night rides (one night out) on your own. Get confident with this before tackling more adventurous longer treks.
- Navigational mistakes happen, so pick easier trails for your first big excursion. This way you will enjoy yourself more, rather than worry about what lies ahead.
- Accept that on your own, the setting up camp and striking camp is hard work and can take 1-2 hours each way.
- With this amount of time taken out of your day accept that you will only ride approximately 6 hours in between (giving another 2 hours backup/flexibility for difficulties on the trail).
- If you get to camp early, get set up, eat then enjoy/explore where you are.
- It can be tough going with two horses to negotiate on the trails and care for at the end of the day. Recognise this and turn frustration into celebration that despite knowing this, you are still out there doing it!
- Settle your mind to the fact that you will do less mileage and less challenging trails (first time out at least), but who cares? You are out there doing it, by yourself, in a remote place and many people never take this first step/first try. So first time out on a solo long-distance trek… give yourself a break and don’t feel that you have anything to prove!
Coming soon -tops tips on how to corral your horses on the trail (solo)!