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 Vineyard trail ride is ideal for novices and the not so fit rider, but enjoyed by all. A relaxing ride at leisurely pace through the vineyards, to a breathtaking view point with panoramic views of the Witzenberg Valley and Breede River valleys and the majestic mountains surrounding these valleys. Weather and riding ability permitting we can also ride through the forest on this trail.
This ride is also suitable for children who are able to sit and keep their balance on a horse. Young children will be taken on a lead rein.
This ride can be booked as a sunset ride.
Allow for one and a half hours to include introduction, basic instruction and unsaddling.
Min of 2 people required to confirm.
R100, 00 per person
Looking at being in the saddle a little longer? The Witzenberg Trail, trail takes you through farm lands, right up into the foothills of the Witzenberg mountains into the start of the fynbos and wilderness area, where breathtaking views of the mountains and the valley stretched below await you. Covering a variety of terrain this trail ride is ideal for the rider with some experience. Guests need to be comfortable in the saddle for a few hours and able to manage trot and canter.
Allow two to two and a half hours for this ride.
Min 2 people required to confirm
R170, 00 per person
Tailor made Horse Trails
Don't rush, let us arrange a tailor made trail for you to include wine tasting, hand crafted cheeses or award winning olive oils on your trail ride. Allow half a day at least for these trails. We do not run these trails during the heat of summer. Prices on request
We look forward to seeing you on the trail soon!
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.”