Many thanks, Angus and I had a fantastic ride!
“The scenery was superb, the horses were responsive, and Jo and John proved a fountain of knowledge on the technique of riding and the world of horses.”
Fortunately we weren’t stiff from the ride. Maybe that mountain biking fitness helped after all…
Evaluating your riding skill and comfort correctly, before joining us on a ride, are essential for your safety and enjoyment. Unfortunately for many infrequent riders they have little to compare to so please always ask if you are unsure.
Many establishments are happy to "pack 'em in and pack 'em out" but Safety is our first priority and we do prefer that our guests enjoy their experience with us.
Our horses are well schooled, accustomed to the trails and do a great job of adjusting to different riders, regardless if they are novice or advanced. We have trails and horses to suit all levels, literally from novice and never ridden to experienced and competitive riders.
However we are dependent on your evaluation of your riding skill when you book.
Unless you are traveling as part of a group, you will usually be riding with other guests. Advanced riders are (understandably) likely to get frustrated if they are forced to walk on the Witzenberg Trail. This happens when inexperienced riders overestimate their riding ability.
Horse riding uses a very different set of muscles to your normal fitness, so if you are unfit we recommend that you book the shorter trail ride to avoid being too stiff. We don't recommend more than an hour and a half for beginners or anyone who has not ridden before. We don't recommend more than 2 hours in the saddle for novices and unfit riders.
Rather underestimate your riding skills unless you are an experienced horse rider.
Riding out in the open and riding foreign horses can "upset" guests who have only ever ridden in an enclosed area or only ride one horse.
There is nothing quite so rewarding as seeing a nervous or novice rider relax and start enjoying their horses, or advanced riders enjoying the freedom of a good canter.
We really enjoy having time to relax riders and teach some basic skills out on the trail, but we can only really allow time for this if you have booked a trail with riders of a similar level.
Are you truly comfortable at a canter?
Many see themselves as romantically galloping across the plains either as Clint Eastwood or Julia Roberts.. but without the practice it can turn into something closer to a nightmare on a runaway train.. or at the very least some extreme discomfort to certain body parts.
If you have never had any formal instruction or if you still need to hold onto the saddle at any speed, are not sure of how to use your lower leg or what it means to keep contact with your horses mouth - we highly recommend rating yourself as a novice rider.
Many of our guests book a short course in riding when they suddenly realise how much more they enjoy horse riding when they actually know what they are doing and start to feel in control of their horse. Once you have the basics it is like riding a bicycle, even if you don't ride regularly, you will be much safer when you do!
When in doubt ask and we will gladly assist you in choosing the best trail ride!
Some guests are somewhat taken aback when we ask about their height and weight when booking a horse ride, one gentleman even said that he "didn't discuss his weight.." and occasionally we have had guests who have clearly underestimated their weights!
Whilst it can be a touchy subject for some and can become awkward - it is even more so for the horse who will be carrying you!
Horses can comfortably carry about 15 to 20% of their weight - over that it not only causes the horse pain and discomfort, but it also becomes unsafe for both horse and rider.
Imagine how unstable you are when carrying a weight on your back, if you trip or slide, the weight unbalances you and you are more likely to fall - the same applies for the horse.
Experienced riders generally ride in better balance with the horse, whereas novice riders tend to "sit heavy".
Another important factor is physical fitness and mobility, in order to get into and out of the saddle, you will need some physical condition in order to support your body weight while you swing your leg over the horses back.
If you have a knee or ankle injury, do discuss with us so we can arrange the ideal activity for you.
When in doubt ask, please don't try to take a chance, we cannot endanger our horses or your safety.
Currently our maximum weight restriction is 95kgs - if you are tall and a few kilo's over, please just discuss with us.
Our first volunteer program in conjunction with the Steinthal Children's Home in Tulbagh, has not only been a learning experience for the children, but it has also been an interesting learning curve for us and the horses too! Just goes to show you are never too old to learn!
Whilst the children's excitement at learning to ride a horse and the benefits of equine interaction was something we expected through our previous experience with equine therapy, there were other aspects we didn't expect to have our eyes opened to!
Some of the horses reactions to children learning to ride on them has astounded us - initially we only did ground work and basics of horse care with the children, but when it came to ride we decided it would be safer to change to some of the calmer school masters, but one boy, Jason, had other thoughts - he and "Bob" have developed a bond and he was determined to stay with Bob despite all our warnings that Bob is a little too feisty for a beginner.
Keep in mind that Bob was a top polo pony and his 0 to 100 km p hr touch is very light.. imagine teaching someone to drive in a sports car... But at Jason's persistence, we decided to give it a try.. Bob's expression when Jason started bouncing around on his back while learning the trot was a picture, ears swivelling and twirling he was asking lots of questions, but he soon decided that actually it was ok and that this guy would get it right eventually - which he did.. so we were proven wrong again.. Jason's smile when he said "I learnt to trot on Bob", said it all.
Obviously we will keep a beady eye on those two as confidence increases!
The children all love going on out rides, they say they love the space and freedom of being out and "up the mountain" on horseback! Whilst on the outrides, we picked up that they are not familiar with many things like the names of the mountain ranges surrounding our valley, or what "renosterveld" and "fynbos" are - the first time I asked one of them to ride around a "renosterbos" I was asked if there was a rhino somewhere! They do however know that the Proteas are our Cricket team!! So now our rides have another feature, we teach the names of the plants (those that we know) and why they are important, the children get to experience first hand the effects of erosion and fires, learn about alien vegetation and with spring around the corner, we are now discovering the early flowers starting to bloom. We pick up litter, close gates and generally learn about nature. Through the children's growing awareness and questions, we have become more conscious of many things we take for granted on a daily basis!
We are very proud to be working with the Steinthal Children's Home on our first volunteer project and hope to soon be able to accommodate more children in our program. We would also like to thank all the very generous people who have given our horses grazing, donated equipment and generally offered support, your kindness and generosity makes this all possible.
John & Jo
We are the owners of horseAbout Trails & Adventures in the Western Cape.
“We left the premises with heart full of joy, love for these amazing horses and admiration for the lifestyle of John and his family.”