Sunray Farm Horse Riding Holidays; College groups, families & friends

Merrist Wood College  on a Wild Coast tour
While the weather swings dramatically between the extreme heat of a Durban summer and the chilliness of the start of winter, so Wild Coast Horse Trails vacillates between being wildly busy to sedately not so busy but quietly ticking over.

Nicky, our freelance guide, decided to take a bit of a busman’s holiday in February and March, travelling up north to visit our friends at Horizon Horseback Safaris and Wait A Little Big 5 Horse Safaris. In her absence, suddenly, trails were booked and 14 girls from the UK’s Merrist Wood College descended on Sunray Farm for a week-long riding holiday and cultural experience.

Swimming on the Waterfalls Ride
Visiting the local school
It was a delight to have them share their enthusiasm and energy with us and the local community. With lots of riding, visits to game reserves, an overnight trail and a trip to the local school, the girls were kept busy throughout their stay and returned to England with many happy memories and tales to tell. We know that both they and all at Wild Coast Horse Trails eagerly await their return in 2014.

As the girls departed, so we welcomed a group of four riders, also from the UK, who joined us for a farm stay and trail. With African Horse Sickness still in our midst, we have had to be careful about travelling too far with the horses for fear of exposing other equines to the virus or increasing the risk of our own horses catching different strains. As a result, we have been challenged to develop alternative itineraries and to explore the local area for additional rides. Nevertheless, the riding remained fast-paced, breath-taking and diverse, incorporating everything from a game experience on Endalweni Game Reserve to explorations into the hilly grasslands of the Wild Coast and unforgettable beach canters.

A family horse riding holiday at Sunray Farm.
Hot on the heels of this trail, we welcomed an Israeli family to the farm. Yaacov, Leanne and their four daughters enjoyed a week of getting to know our horses and our ways of working with our equine companions. We have never had such a hands-on group on our farm stay before and Roz and Nicky, who hosted and guided the group, enjoyed a rather leisurely week as the four girls pitched in with the grooming, tacking up, feeding and pretty much any other horse-related task thrown their way!

Julie-Anne’s son, Ashley, has also returned to Sunray Farm after 2 years of working for Perseverance Endurance Stud in Graaff-Reinet. As a competitive endurance rider and an experienced horseman, it is wonderful to have his influence back on the farm once again, especially with the wealth of experience he picked up during his time away.

As well as assisting with the general running of the farm, Ashley has taken on four potential endurance horses and is beginning backing and training them ready for competition. The oldest of the four is our Anglo Arab stallion, Torstone Tashbah – a stunning animal with lots of personality and a rather bouncy gait that puts many a rider off but will provide little challenge for Ashley! The other three range between four – six years old and have been selected on the basis of their conformation, breeding and temperament.

Starting Torstone Taz Man
In addition to these steads, Ashley has been assisting Roz, our yard manager, in the backing and training of some of our younger horses. We are delighted to have some young Percheron/Arab crosses and nice tall Anglo Arabs coming into work and hope to see them excel as strong, solid, weight-carrying trail horses.

As the cooler weather begins to creep in, we are hoping for an end to our African Horse Sickness problems; certainly, infection rates seem to have slowed considerably and our latest patient is well on the mend after a medium-term battle with this lethal virus. Between the Disease Control Africa vaccines and the MMS treatment, we seem to be getting on top of this particular strain and hope that next year will see far fewer cases than the 35 or so we have had to treat this year!

The Wild Coast is fortunate enough to enjoy a relatively mild winter, with temperatures rarely dropping below 200C during the day and 100C at night. Our days are usually dry and sunny, making for some of the nicest riding conditions – a secret few seemed to be aware of … until now! Our trails are booking up nicely and we have a base-stay at Endalweni Game Reserve booked nearly once a month for the foreseeable future (although places are still available should anyone be interested).

We are also looking forward to returning to our pre-AHS haunts further up the coast. In May we will be taking clients on a seven-day beach trail up to Wavecrest and the Kob Inn – an itinerary we have had to abandon during the horse sickness outbreak. This stunning ride takes in some incredible, long beach canters and provides accommodation at some of the best-situated hotels on the Wild Coast – and there are still places available for anyone who might be interested in joining us on this adventure.

We have a steady influx of working riding holiday guests coming throughout the winter so have a lot of work planned for horses, both in terms of keeping them fit and ready for trail, and schooling them in order to enhance their responsiveness and suppleness to provide the best mounts for our trail clients.

Our horses are really the most important aspect of this company as they are the ones that create a riding experience that our guests will never forget. Their hard work, reliability and enthusiasm for their work is really what makes Wild Coast Horse Trails stand out as one of the best beach-riding operators in Africa. Come along and enjoy a unique experience on horses that are full of character, endurance, stamina and sure-footedness.
The mares enjoying the autumn sunshine