Horseback Riding in South Africa

Horizon Ranch


An unrivaled range of riding activities in the hospitable and relaxed atmosphere is included in this horseback riding vacation in South Africa at one of the region’s oldest farms.

The flexible daily itinerary can include outrides across the bushveld to view wildlife, mustering cattle, swimming horses in the lake, trying your hand at polocrosse, or competing in western games. There is even a course for riders experienced in cross country jumping.

Guests are organized into small groups, so that riders of all abilities enjoy a suitable pace.

The lodge overlooks a beautiful lake, and its wide colonial verandah is the perfect spot to take in the beauty of South Africa while listening to hippo and jackal calls.  There are no TV’s, and no newspapers, allowing guests to leave the rest of the world behind for the duration of their stay. A swimming pool enables guests to cool off after a hot summer’s day, and the soft, mineral packed water of the lake is a wonderful place to swim. Guests are accommodated in standard or luxury traditional thatched chalets, all with en-suite bathrooms with showers and/or bathtubs.

Before an early morning ride, guests are offered a light breakfast. After working up an appetite on your ride, lunch is served under the giant syringa tree in the garden, followed by afternoon tea at about 3pm. You will then have another opportunity to ride out or try your hand at one of the many riding activities offered. Dinner is a sociable and sumptuous affair, during which the day's adventures, or misadventures, are recounted with great delight.

  • Overview:
    All the horses are honest, forward going and highly responsive. Many have been reared and schooled at the ranch by a highly skilled horseman, Shane Dowinton. Shane has been using "round pen reasoning" techniques on young and problem horses for over 15 years. With a wonderful selection of horses and a small maximum number of riders, the ranch is able to closely match horse to rider capability. Experienced riders will have a stimulating ride on an intelligent horse, whilst novices are able to build confidence as they are informally coached by both guide and mount. The ranch uses mainly customized McClellan saddles, which give a comfortable and secure western-type ride. Stock saddles and a few western saddles are also available.
  • Equipment Required:
    Helmets are required.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Mostly Boerperd, some Thoroughbred and Anglo Arab
  • Trip Pace:
    To suit rider
  • Tack:
    McClellan (English trekking), limited western
  • Weight limit:
    225 lbs

Non-riders are welcome to take part in any non-riding itinerary activities and enjoy the accommodation and region.

Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB airport)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to Horizon lodge (approx. 2.hrs) for lunch. That afternoon enjoy an introductory ride in the game reserve, with sundowners served at one of our picturesque hippo dams.

Day 2

Ride to the original farm homestead and main African village, view the quaint hand deco­rated houses, call in at the historic Baber family homestead for tea, and a visit the farm for some delightful entertainment. Ride back to Horizon lodge for a cooling swim in the lake with your horse before lunch. Later, during the heat of the day, relax by the pool or take a siesta. In the afternoon, ride out into the game area to encounter game on horseback and learn the signs of the wild and medicinal values of the native bushes and trees.

Day 3

Start the day’s activities with an introduction to polocrosse, an invigorating sport that will soon have you addicted. After lunch, tag along on one of our bi-weekly shopping trips into the local town of Vaalwater for some retail therapy bush style! Then enjoy another outride in the game reserve whilst enjoying the excellent going on the complex network of sandy tracks.

Day 4

After breakfast you have the option to stay at the ranch or embark on a 2-night wilderness safari in search of an even wider variety of game. After an extended ride (approx. 4 hours), arrive at a tranquil stone and thatched bush camp in time for a well deserved lunch, That afternoon enjoy a chance to take photos on a guided bush walk or game drive. Sundowners are served at a breathtaking lookout spot.

Day 5

Enjoy a full morning of riding in the game reserve with possible encounters with white rhino, giraffe, eland, wildebeest, impala, hartebeest or zebra. Return to the lodge for a late lunch and a siesta by the pool. After tea enjoy a short fast ride in the reserve game before returning to the lodge for sundowners and dinner around an open fire.

Day 6

Depart for the ride back to Horizon in time for lunch. In the afternoon the saddle weary can visit Beadle, the local farm community-linked project and shop, where locals hand make ex­quisite beaded leather products, including browbands and made to fit riding chaps. Alternatively, go on a gentle outride to discover new parts of this beautiful property or to find the hippo.

Day 7

After many hours in the saddle you may opt to take a break and enjoy an outing and game drive at a local ‘big five’ reserve with the possibility of close encounters with lion, elephant or buffalo. Return to Horizon for lunch. After another indulgent afternoon tea enjoy an outride or try your skills over the challenging cross-country fences.

Day 8

Experience a morning of mustering and cutting some of the ranch’s magnificent Bonsmara stud cattle, a nonagressive breed adapted to local conditions. After bringing a herd in from pas­ ture, take turns to move one cow or youngster away from the group. This activity pits you and your mount against the animal’s herding instinct and will test your riding ability to the full. Follow the action with a refreshing swim with your horse. That afternoon tea is followed by yet another new challenge in the form of western games (gymkhana for adults) where your riding skills and competitive edge can once again be pushed to the limits,

Day 9

In the morning enjoy an exhilarating fast ride to one of the furthest points of the property, utilizing literally kilometres of sandy tracks. Back at the lodge enjoy a quick swim and a late lunch. Afternoon tea is followed by an outride in the game reserve for one last photo oppor­tunity with game followed by a final sundowner on a high rock overlooking the tranquil landscape.

Day 10

Complete your holiday with a last ride of your choice.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Year round, flexible schedule. 2021 Low Season: January 5-February 12, February 22-March 21, April 20-July 20. 2021 High Season: February 13-21, April 1-19, July 21-January 4.

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $365Per person per night in a shared Garden Chalet during high season.
  • Pricing Variation
  • All prices per person, per night Low Season High Season
    Single Lakeside Chalet $420 $550
    Shared Lakeside Chalet $280 $365
    Single Garden Chalet $320 $405
    Shared Garden Chalet $280 $365
    Single Standard room $280 $365
    Shared Standard room $235 $315
    Third person in any room $230 $305
  • Transportation
  • $280Round trip group transfers for landing before 9:30am and departing after 7pm.
Additional Pricing Information:
**Special Pricing is available for families-please ask your ride consultant for details** Insurance Required Prices are based on the dollar/pound exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.

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Contact Megan Barrett

I'm back from the African Explorer, the trip of a lifetime. Please pass my gratitude to everyone at Equitours for making it possible. I took well over 800 photos! Both our stationary stay in South Africa and the mobile safari in Botswana were outstanding. The  horses were AMAZING! I can't say enough. Thanks again.

Ed Goldberg