Adventure Ride Wild Coast
Everything at the farm this month has paled into insignificance when weighed against the incomparable thrill of the The Ride’s Wild Coast Adventure which I embarked on with Barry Armitage and Joe Dawson of The Ride last week. Joining us was a return guest, Victor Kee, who has spent many years taking clients riding overSo, our mission was to cover 200km of stunning
Exmoor. As it turned out,
we were a pretty invincible team… well, not so pretty but definitely
While this ride did little to prepare us for what was to come, it did give us a taste of the beautiful scenery and breathtaking vistas that the
had in store for us. After an evening spent getting to know one another, I left
the party watching themselves on TV, and snuck off to my deflatable mattress
for a shoddy night’s sleep. Wild Coast
With only a short distance to cover on the first day, we allowed a significant amount of time for Barry to faff – something that would become as regular as coffee in the mornings to come – and then headed out on a bit of a stop start commencement to the day. And what a ride! This section was new to everyone and finding the correct path proved challenging – as did the path itself! Leading our horses, we scrambled along in knee-deep mud, fighting off the grabby branches and trying not to entangle ourselves or our horses in the numerous obstacles keen to hinder our progress.
After a hot and sweaty start to our ride, the terrain became slightly less exacting and we arrived at our first stop, The Kraal, in time for a spot of lunch and well-deserved swim in the warm waters of the Mpande river. An afternoon sojourn to the local shebeen (unofficial tavern) gave all the chance to kick back, relax and soak up the friendliness and hospitality of the Xhosa people.
Day three saw us covering +-40km from The Kraal to Mdumbi – it also presented us with our first big river swim. Under Barry and Joe’s expert guidance, we intrepidly strided out into the
whose 100m wide expanse put a few butterflies in everyone’s stomachs. Despite a
little unwillingness at the start of the swim, the horses ventured on valiantly
and we all arrived safely and relatively gracefully on the other side and sat
down to a lunch of river-soaked sandwiches (courtesy of me who had
de-water-proofed them for reasons none of us could fathom). Mtakatye River
The next day was hot and we had some serious distance to complete so the pacing of the ride was vital. With Reign and Victor dropping back rather on some of the long hill climbs, we decided to swap horses in order to keep the day moving. With a lighter rider on his back, Reign soon found his feet and slotted in with the rest of the horses. The day ended even more beautifully than it had begun, with a ride through a curiously atmospheric dune forest and out for a last long beach canter and up through the river to Bulungula where we spent an idyllic night in a thatch lapa in the paddock with our horses.
We all awoke early the next morning, except for Joe who remained huddled in his Barbie sleeping bag even as one of the horses decided to investigate the lapa for any signs of food. And who can blame her? We all found Equifeeds so tempting in appearance that we sampled it and decided that it was a definite improvement on some of the foodstuffs us humans were being presented with for breakfast!
Now on our fourth day of riding, we were heading to The Haven, a section of the ride that I had been particularly looking forward to. The Haven is situated within the sister reserves of Dwesa and Cwebe which conserve one of the
largest remaining sections of indigenous coastal forest. As I have quite a
thing for forests, I had been wanting to visit this area for a long time and
the morning’s ride did much to emphasize the unique appeal of this arboreal
wilderness. Eastern Cape
We were all very relaxed, knowing that we only had around 20-25km to complete during the day, and so we added to our time in the saddle by losing equipment (I actually rode back in an effort to locate my GPS that was actually safely stowed away in my bag all along) and sustaining minor injuries. An unexpected branch scratched me on the nose enough for it to bleed profusely and require the expert first aid of Barry – i.e. he stuck a big piece of white tape on my nose, laughed at me and took photos – ahh, the bedside manner!
A quiet afternoon was enjoyed, sort of, by both horse and human, although Barry’s natural energy levels (approximately the same as a Duracell bunny) meant he had trouble with this concept and forced us all to drink copious quantities of red wine instead (I swear, I was an unwilling participant!). A wonderful evening of laughter and silliness saw me struggling to arise from my damp tent the next morning and I surfaced only just in time for breakfast.
From The Haven we continued our journey down the coast and our last night on the road would be spent at The Kob Inn, where I was back on familiar ground having recently ridden up there on our newly adjusted 7-day beach trail. It is a wet day from start to finish, with rain soaking us from above and rivers soaking us from below. Our first challenge is the
which, with its grumpy greyness, notoriety and sharks, is enough to stir a
little nervousness in me. It proves to be a straightforward wade across so,
with that out of the way, I am all ready to enjoy a great day’s riding in the
pouring rain! Mbashe River
The rain couldn't do much to dampen our spirits, although one or two unexpected rivers did take some of the fighting spirit out of our leader. With the countryside beginning to flatten out and the long beaches stretching ahead of us, it was an incredible day’s riding with the overcast, rainy weather providing good conditions for the horses and keeping us all cool and hydrated!
The wonderful hospitality and friendless of the Kob Inn’s proprietors and staff were a welcome luxury as we arrived sodden and shivering. Warm showers, big beds and great food were some of the highlights of the evening. A few more dry clothes would have been an added bonus but it was not meant to be, although the tumble-dried jeans and socks were a welcome sight (and sensation) the following morning.
Saturday marked the last day of our adventure and we had three rivers to cross and just over 50km to cover to our final destination. The day is pretty grey with intermittent rain and one of the horses is battling a little with chafing from the girth the day before. We adjust all her tack, do away with the martingale and set out with a whole new perspective – one which is primarily filled with chestnut ears as the head is flung around in celebration of this new liberty.
Shaan-Rae and Candis join up from The Kob Inn with us at the beginning of the ride but the fast pace soon separates the original four members of the team from our new companions. The beaches are fast and furious and the horses, now on familiar ground, are full of running. We hit the
before Wavecrest with a spring in our steps and plenty of banter about the
gallop ahead. As I know the horses well, I also know that I am riding the
fastest and it is not long before we drop, lengthen and leave the others
behind. Although I have galloped this beach hundreds of times, it never fails
to produce much exhilaration and the feeling of complete freedom. I wrote in my
diary: “We are galloping into an abundant beauty where happiness pushes
light into the shadows and illuminates the darkest corners of my soul.” long beach
After a wade through the
, we eat lunch
quickly and continue on our way. We usually take one full day to ride back from
Wavecrest to Kei Mouth, and now we are hoping to squeeze it into a couple of
hours – which we manage successfully. Although the guys have let me lead the
way since Wavecrest, I lose all control when we hit the golf course and watch
in horror as they canter heedlessly up the fairway, threatening to destroy our
already strained relations with our neighbouring golfers! Joe’s excuse was that
he forgot to put his horse’s bit in – Barry’s was that he’s simply pig-headed
and doesn't play golf! Nxaxo
What an incredible week! I feel almost homesick for the adventure and for the companionship of both humans and horses. This trip has inspired me to dream beyond my comfort zone, plan new challenges for myself and my horse, give up smoking, and basically change the entire way I approach life and horses. “Right now, in this tiny moment, there is no one who can clip the wings of my freedom. Together, my horse and I, we can conquer untold wonders and discover all that lies beyond these horizons.”
For more info on how you can be part of our Wild Coast Horseback Adventures - go to our web site
Barry Armitage » Blog Archive » Wild Coast Recce: day 6
Wild Coast Recce: day 6
December, 2012 | No Comments
Barry Armitage » Blog Archive » Wild Coast Recce: day 4
Wild Coast Recce: day 4
December, 2012 | No Comments
Barry Armitage » Blog Archive » Wild Coast Recce: day 3
Wild Coast Recce: day 3
November, 2012 | No Comments
Barry Armitage » Blog Archive » Wild Coast Recce: day 2
Wild Coast Recce: day 2
November, 2012 | 1 Comment
Barry Armitage » Blog Archive » Wild Coast Recce: the start
Wild Coast Recce: the start
November, 2012 | 1 Comment
by Nicky Hoseck (Trail guide at Wild Coast Horse Trails)
Well, the weather has done it’s best to curtail our work at Wild Coast Horse Trails but we have soldiered on in pouring rain with all the enthusiasm of those who love their vocation and have the privilege to work with amazing equine companions.
Our two clients from
Bronwyn and Simmy, endured three days’ of rain – determined not to miss a
minute’s riding during their weekend farm stay. The whole experience was quite
a challenge for two ladies who had rarely ridden outside of the arena before, but
they coped admirably with the difficult conditions, helped along by our sympathetic and steady horses. Johannesburg
Another wet few days saw Klara Webb introducing the team to Ttouch and Ride with your mind techniques. The results were astonishing and we saw some incredible improvements in our horses after just one short session. Our minds have been opened to a whole new way of approaching our work with the horses and we are looking forward to sharing this new knowledge with our clients on the Natural Horsemanship Week programme we are developing.
We are also discovering the benefits of riding in a lighter seat and encouraging the horses’ backs to come up underneath us. Doing so much fast beach work inevitably leads to our horses tending towards the forehand. This new way of riding is helping to combat that and we saw some great results, especially from Roz and Geronimo. Geronimo was a stock horse before coming to us so has never been the easiest horse in the schooling arena. However, Roz’s riding, assisted by Klara and Ttouch bandaging, brought him into a beautiful outline and had him extending through the neck and rounding his back like a dressage horse!
September saw the launch of several new trails and holidays at Wild Coast Horse Trails. Our new seven- night beach trail is a fantastic 140km adventure along the
which Nicky lead
for the first time with clients Claudia and Volker Weber. Although Volker’s
shirt suffered a few casualties after trying to bundu bash our way through a
small section of forest, the rest of the trail went smoothly and painlessly. Our
furthest destination is the Kob Inn, situated right on the rocks overlooking
the sea; this is stunning spot and proved excellent for dolphin spotting. The
riding is as exciting and varied as ever and our horses gobbled up the
additional kilometres without batting an eyelid. Wild
Coast proved, once again, what a solid trail
horse he is despite his youth. After a long morning’s ride through to Troy , he had a long drink and then
promptly dozed off – truly nothing unsettles this loveable boy even at his
tender age of six! Mazeppa Bay
Last week Nicky and Roz headed out into the rain once again with clients from
and the Germany .
The rain did nothing to dampen spirits and the four-day beach trail proved to
be an enjoyable adventure for all. The rivers were surprisingly shallow and
calm which made for easy crossings for both horses and riders. Roz, however,
was on Time Warp who is not always sure how many legs he has or where they are
at any given time. As a result, they ended up swimming the UK
while the smaller horses all managed to wade through quite comfortably. The
dips and undulations in the river bed are not always easy to read and Time,
sadly, misjudged it and ended up in a deep section, casually soaking Roz along
the way! Our Swedish and German clients then headed off to Dinaka where,
hopefully, the weather cleared enough to give them a wonderful game riding
experience. Kobanqaba River
Back on the farm, there has been lots of activity, as The Loft accommodation for clients on our working riding holiday programme has enjoyed something of a revamp. A deep clean and a fresh coat of paint has given it a new look, although the rain has forced us to delay repainting the exterior so we are hoping for some dry days in order to complete the project.
Ida and Phillippa, from
, have just headed south to
experience some of the adrenaline adventure highlights of the Sweden . First stop is a skydive in
Grahamstown and then they are headed down to Stormsriver to throw themselves
off the Eastern Cape . Crazy or
adventurous – what do you think? Bloukrans
Over the month ahead, we are looking forward to furthering our Ttouch work and also to starting two youngster, Twain and Taitum. Both Anglo Arabs, we are really looking forward to seeing how these youngsters shape up under saddle with the intention of them joining our trail team in the years to come.
Till next time.....