Romantic Horse Trails - be a knight in shining armour!
Our Romantic Horse Trails are very popular as an ideal and unique way to propose to your special one. Let us arrange special touches or surprise stop overs to make your day truly memorable! Here are a few images from some of our special request Horse Trails.
Asking "Will you?" is a very special day and important that all the little details are covered to celebrate this special event.
Smiling happily after an hour in the saddle! What a Champ!
Parents often ask "What age do you take children on your trails" and it is such a difficult question as it depends entirely on the child.
We have taken many 4 year olds out on the trail - they usually have no problem managing the 1,5 hour trail and we have had 8 year old refuse to go anywhere near the horses.
So it depends alot on each individual, if they are confident and comfortable around animals, they will generally be absolutely fine on an outride.
This darling little girl, Angelique, is our youngest rider to date though - 2 years and 2 months. We had agreed on a quiet meander through the forest thinking that a short ride would be enough, but there was no turning back and she rode the whole way, forest trail and all!
Well done Angelique - we look forward to seeing you back soon!
Spring is always a fickle time of year and particularly so in the Western Cape. You will be wise never to be fooled by a "shorts & t-shirt day" and leave your extra layers or rain jackets at home.
The horses have been shedding their winter coats profusely for nearly a month now and on hot days love nothing better than a good roll in the grass to loosen the itchy hair. Patches of their shiny summer coats are already starting to show through, but this does make it rather chilly on colder spring nights.
This energetic rolling may frequently happen in a nice muddy patch because as any wise horse knows, mud helps keep those itchy biting flies away!.
Whilst grooming energetically, I am often amused by what horses must think - we as humans tend to be horrified when faced with a thoroughly muddy horse (even worse when said horse is the white Thunder!!) whilst the poor horse must despair at us removing all that carefully applied mud.
There is a special magic in Spring - the first rains started a display of wild flowers that pop up in the renosterveld and fynbos areas. Due to the long dry summers, these flowers are only with us while the cool weather lasts, but the variety is astounding - it is worth taking some time to meander and enjoy an often hidden and secretive banquet put on by nature.
The vines are bursting with the buds of new leaves - and will soon be growing the next generation of great wine!
Whilst the cloudy and stormy skies may hide the tops of "our" majestic mountains, they certainly make for dramatic sunsets and add an air of mystery to the gorges we ride below. Some guests have remarked that we could be in the "Lord of the Rings". So don't let the thought of cooler weather keep you in the city or indoors, come and join us for fantastic ride, good conversation on the trail and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the world!
With longer evenings and the promise of warmer weather, our magical moonlight rides will soon be back too - join our newsletter and keep in touch with our new seasons offerings.
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.
We have been surprised that a few guests appear to be taken aback that horse riding is by appointment only and that we also ask guests to arrive punctually - there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly the horses comfort, they cannot stand around all day with saddles and bridles on - not only is it boring, but they are unable to graze, eat or drink while saddled up.
Once we are finished a ride, the horses are unsaddled and put into their paddocks, it is not possible to keep horses saddled all day waiting for unexpected guests. Our horses lead as natural a life as possible and are therefore not kept in stables or small pens, they roam large paddocks around the farm.
There is a limit to the amount of exercise a horse can do in a day, so we manage the number of trail rides a horse does in a day and even over a week.
If you arrive late you stand a good chance of your riding time being shortened to avoid delaying the next scheduled group for the day or intruding on the horses bre
As we are often out on trails or working on the farm so if you arrive without an appointment you stand a good chance of wasting your time and effort to drive all the way out, only to find us out on a trail somewhere!
We like to spend time with all our guests and give them a chance to learn more about horses, enjoy the breathtaking scenery and relaxed atmosphere - so please do make an appointment!
We look forward to welcoming you at Horse About soon!
John and I have been working with a variety of horses for a lifetime and yet every day we experience or learn something new with our horses, they challenge us, teach us and frequently humble us by their willingness to take on new challenges. They also make us laugh and in this case make us wonder...
Our horses receive regular schooling to keep them fit and responsive on our trail rides. We avoid having brain washed horses that simply plod along nose to tail on the trail by keeping the schooling fun and varied.
On this particular afternoon my son took 3 of the horses - Commander, Sky and Thunder to the games field for some gymkhana work (great way to teach agility, suppleness and responsiveness). His plan was to ride one and leave the other 2 free to graze on the field. Which they usually do, they are completely familiar with the field. This worked fine when he rode Commander, but when he saddled up Sky and set off to warm her up first at a walk and then a trot, the geldings, Commander and Thunder, decided they wanted to take part too.
Being a warm day, I was pretty sure they would soon give up and return to grazing, but not a chance, they walked and trotted around behind Sky, doing whatever she was doing, change direction, circles... So Spike and Sky upped the ante a little and pushed in a canter, which started the games. Commander (now remember he had already been worked and the weather was hot) was not having little Sky beat him in a canter - while Thunder did extended trots, bucks and other antics not far behind. Even if they overtook for awhile - they would circle back to join Sky and Spike.. Commander in particular liked to be behind Sky or right next to her, Spike was able to lean over and pet him on his neck and back ..
Needless to say this turned into a fun play session, with all three horses and a human having fun alot of fun and learning.
For me it was a very special moment as it is such an incredible thing to see horses enjoying being with "their" human and enjoy some good old horse play!
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.”