Appy hacking in the Surrey countryside - Surrey equestrian

If you like to hack out on your own, now you can do so with peace of mind (Photo: Bob Atkins)

If you like to hack out on your own, now you can do so with peace of mind (Photo: Bob Atkins) - Credit: Bob Atkins

Editor-in-chief at Horse&Rider magazine, which is based in Grayshott, Alison Bridge brings us all the latest from the Surrey horse world...

There are all sorts of apps available now that can really enhance your rides

There are all sorts of apps available now that can really enhance your rides - Credit: TBC

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Hacking is something all of us riders enjoy, whether it’s just a relaxed amble on the common once in a while, or powering our way across the fabulous Surrey heaths and hills to keep ourselves and our horses fit.

Although our county is so close to London and seems pretty busy, it’s surprisingly good for hacking. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the best places, thanks to the National Trust, English Nature, the Forestry Commission and the like, which provide well-maintained bridlepaths on gorgeous land. And even if you’re right on the edge of town, there are fantastic places like Ham Common and Richmond Park to ride that are wonderfully evocative of the hunting grounds they used to be in medieval times.

Sometimes, it’s great to try new places, too. I recently bought a little lorry for my cob, Harry, and although he refused to load into it for a while, he’s now been persuaded that it’s a good idea. Thank goodness. If you’ve ever tried to persuade 500kg of reluctant horseflesh to move anywhere, let alone up a ramp and into a box, you’ll understand my relief!

So now we are exploring, driving to places that I can ride back home from, just in case I can’t get him back into the lorry at the end of a hack. My last adventure was on Frensham Common, where we rode up onto a ridge and could look down on one side to the Great Pond with its little dinghies and their bright spinnakers, and on the other side to the magical Little Pond, reed-fringed and an amazing Mediterranean blue.

I’ll be trying lots of new places around Surrey to ride this summer, so I was interested to hear about a couple of handy apps for smartphones that sound brilliant for anyone who enjoys outdoor pursuits.

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Appy hacking

For a start, there’s the route guide app ViewRanger, which gives you access to riding routes across the UK. Download it to your phone from the app store, open it up and it shows you all the bridleways and byways, roads and footpaths in the immediate area.

The ViewRanger app also allows you to find routes of interest that can then be downloaded and viewed on a map. Once they are downloaded, the map and route are visible without the need for a mobile signal and active navigation guides you around the route to prevent you going off course.

The routes have all been uploaded by the ViewRanger community and come with details of length, difficulty, altitude profile etc, so you can quickly find a route suitable for your requirements.

The app is free to download and also comes with OpenSource maps, although premium maps such as Ordnance Survey can be downloaded for a small fee.

It’s great for finding UK riding and walking routes, and has loads more information for keen outdoors people. You can also use the app on holiday as ViewRanger allows the user to download maps from over 22 countries including the USA and most of Europe.

If you like to go hacking alone, there can be a safety issue in more remote places – but there’s also an app for that too!

Horse Rider SOS tracks you as you ride and sends out an alert if you have an accident. Before you head off for your ride, you open it on your phone, press the start button and the app will begin to track you while you ride. As long as it continues to detect your movement and progress, it will remain in tracking mode. If you fall off your horse, are unconscious or unable to move, Horse Rider SOS will enter alert mode and begin the rescue process.

At this point, your predetermined guardians will be notified immediately that you’re in trouble and will be sent your location so that you can be rescued without delay. At £4.99, Horse Rider SOS is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

So what are you waiting for – get out and explore with your horse this summer!




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