Easily, when you’re fed up with the mental and physical burden of riding, there is no doubt horse racing is a high-pressure industry, and you are expected to produce results. There is little room for error. There are 3 am starts and late finishes, track work, and travelling whilst restricting your diet.
So in 2018, Hall retired from racing riding, fed up with the lifestyle and injuries inflicted on his body. Hall spoke to the Herald Sun last week and said he embarked on a spiritual reset spending three months in a Pune compound. “It wasn’t easy, and it was a pretty strong process. “I guess it’s to do with letting go of your old identity and anything attached to that,” Hall said.
There he was able to find a new life balance. I didn’t leave the Ashram in India for three months: you can, you’re not locked up, but the only people you see start calling you by this new name. Hall took a Sanskrit name, “Vimal”, as part of the “strong process”.
Despite the Covid interruptions, Hall rode out the first pandemic wave in India, bunkered down for nine months, where he studied meditation and psychotherapies.
Greece opened up, so he went there next and spent time in England with his mother. He moved to Costa Rica next, where he lived in a commune of 250 people, working odd jobs to cover the cost of food and board. “There’s an intentional community there, and I lived and worked there for two years,” Hall said.
“With healing modalities and spiritual modalities, that’s how they make the bulk of their money. Two hundred fifty people live there at any one time, and they all eat and live together.”
Spiritual healing and psychotherapy aside, the environmental side of communal living piqued Hall’s interest, “I’m very big on that, an alternative, off-grid situation” despite the hard labour. There was no television at the commune in the Guanacaste region, but Wi-Fi worked “in some spots”.
“I was working there for free board and food. I was helping and assisting some of the therapy groups; my main day-to-day job was more ecology,” Hall said. “Which was pretty hard, out in the sun with native plants and making sure certain plants aren’t killing other plants and that sort of thing, it was bloody hot (working in the sun).”
As revealed last week, Hall returned to Australia 18 months ago and has been riding trackwork for Anthony and Sam Freedman while completing a barrier attendant traineeship.
The role of the barrier attendant is to load the horses for the race’s commencement, assist the jockeys with the gear adjustment and ensure the safety of the jockey, horse and other barrier attendants. The job involves travelling to different racecourses around Victoria. During the week, they attend the jump-outs and work with horses that require a barrier certificate; they are there to have a run as part of their preparation or for various other reasons.
After travelling abroad and experiencing what life has to offer, Hall has a new “chilled” outlook, and it has also spelled the end of an old addiction to ink, the $8000 worth of tattoos, including Buddhist deities Mahakala (front) and Tara (back), on his arms and torso.
“I’m done with it,” Hall, a walking billboard for pain and extraordinary workmanship, said.
“I wouldn’t be able to torture myself; looking back, I’ve chilled out a lot.
“I wouldn’t try and put myself through anything too strenuous these days, and that (tattoos) would definitely come under that banner. That wasn’t easy.”
We wish Nick all the best in his new endeavours and wish him all the success.
The National Jockeys Trust is a charity for injured and ill jockeys in necessitous circumstances. We provide emotional support and other services. We exist so that no jockey and their families face their darkest moments alone.