Horseback Riding in South Africa

Horizon Ranch

Overview

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, 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. Combine unrivaled riding activities with local area non-riding outings for a full and varied African experience.

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.  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.

All rooms of the lodge are en suite with either a shower or bath or both facilities. Seven double rooms are separate from the main lodge: three suites overlook the lake and have a small verandah area, the rondavels are a traditional African dwelling adjacent to the lodge. There are also two double rooms in the main lodge.

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.

Guided Bush Walk: For a more in depth information on the flora and fauna on the area, our guides will escort you on a walk through the game reserve. A walk is a chance to see the smaller details in the bush and also with over 250 different species of bird on the reserve, it is an ideal opportunity for bird watching.

Fishing: Fishing can be arranged with one of the staff in one of the many dams on the reserve at Horizon. Bass and Barbel are readily caught and can be cooked for supper! Just make sure you catch enough for everyone.

Massage: Massages can be booked with the resident massage therapist. There is an additional cost for all treatments.

Night Sky Safari: An amazing opportunity to be guided through the night sky by a local astronomer, Dr Phil Calcott. Wrap up warm in the provided blankets as you are directed to view constellations, planets and galaxies. Price: R300pp, Transfer: N/A

Cycling: Nestled in the beautiful Waterberg mountains, riders of all levels will enjoy 30-40km of cross-country mountain biking that consists of single track, trails, gap jumps, drop-offs, and even a rock bridge. The less adventurous can ride on open farm roads or visit nearby sites. Price: R1050pp, Transfers: R100pp

Game drives: Big Five game reserve game drive. Search for elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo from the comfort of your game drive vehicle. Great opportunity for photography. Transfer from lodge is 1-1:30 hour drive. Min two pax. Price: R575pp, Transfer: R250pp

Elephant rides: Offers an amazing educational opportunity to meet and interact with their elephants as well as learning all about these incredible creatures. There is also the opportunity to ride the elephants for about 20 minutes after the
interaction or to bath them depending which time slot you join. 08:00 (Summer) 08:30 (Winter), 12:00, and 15:00
Price: Adults R600pp, Under 12 R340pp, With riding: Adults R1200pp, Under 12 R940pp, Transfer: R1854 Car, R2239 Bus

Lekhalo Zipline: An exciting two hour tour down six lines between 150m and 90m. Admire stunning views and wildlife
before devouring the best burgers in town for lunch. Price: R375pp, Transfer: R150pp

Waterberg Living Museum: The Waterberg Living Museum is a living classroom, a natural & cultural history museum, an exhibit of living creatures, and a botanical garden, all in one place. This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the Waterberg area and its vast history that stretches back to before man. Price: R100pp, Transport: Complimentary

Telekeshi Ramasobane Cultural Village: Telekeshi is a community tourism project situated on communal land adjacent to Masebe Nature Reserve. Nestle at the base of the north-eastern Waterberg escarpment, the site has access to this pristine and inaccessible landscape with breathtaking views and impressive geomorphological formations. Features include a 1.5
and 3 hour hike up the escarpment to view rock art, 18th and 19th century settlement sites, Middle and Stone Age tools and an initiation site. Price: R250pp, Transport: R300pp min 4 pax.

Vaalwater Shopping Trip: Spend the afternoon exploring Vaalwater, visiting The Vaalwater Market, The Black Mamba, Kamotsogo Crafts and Afrihouse for African curios and decor.
Price: No Charge, Transport: Complimentary

Bullseye Taxidermy: Look around this family owned taxidermist and see what is under the skin of a taxidermy animal.
Price: No Charge, Transport: Complimentary

Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB airport)

Trip Itinerary

The itinerary is flexible and depending on the time you have your days riding can be spent doing the following activities.

Day 1

Arrival

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

Outrides and Game Viewing

There is no better way to see the bush and its wildlife than from a horse. Ride across an area of approximately 21,000 acres. The terrain is mostly sandy tracks through the bush and open plain areas. The going is easy on the horses and riders and most of the horses are unshod.

The excitement of riding up to a giraffe on horseback is one you’ll never forget. The game does not view a horse and rider as a threat, which enables you to ride literally amongst the game. You will never be as close or as connected to wildlife as from a horse. We are particularly fortunate on the reserve that our zebra are habituated and are quite inquisitive too. As with all wildlife viewing, nothing can be guaranteed, and if it was, it wouldn’t be such a thrilling experience.

The lodge is in the reserve and as such on all rides, except other activities, there is an opportunity to see wildlife. The reserve and neighboring conservancy is a large area and you’ll cover most of the different areas and habitats during your holiday.

Day 3

Conservancy Ride

A full day ride west of the lodge takes you to the conservancy game reserve. This ride offers lovely long canters on sandy tracks and great game viewing opportunities on large plains, populated by a plethora of game: large herds of wildebeest, hartebeest, sable, eland and blesbok and impressive journeys of giraffe. Buffalo, ostrich, kudu, zebra, waterbuck and impala are also encountered.

After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, riding back to Horizon lodge in time for sundowners. Guests can choose to do as a day ride or overnight at one of the lodges within the conservancy (a minimum of 3 guests is required for overnight stay).

Day 4

Polocrosse

If you’ve never had the opportunity to play this game, we can strongly recommend it. You’ll be taught how to play and even novice riders can take part and most guests get quite competitive after a chukka or two. This game is a combination of polo and lacrosse, which uses a soft ball and lacrosse-like sticks. Players are organized into teams of three: scorer, center and defense. The game starts with a line-out, where the umpire throws the ball into play. Then a graceful, and sometimes not so graceful, dance around the field ensues, with players trying to pick up, throw and rob the ball or ride opponents off the pitch. It’s lots of fun, but does come with a warning: it is addictive

Day 5

Village ride to the local school

There is a small village, Lehlabile, on the greater farm. There are about 40 Sotho dwellings and a small primary school and creche. Many of the staff at Horizon were born in the village and have grown up there. This ride meanders through the village to the local school. It is very interesting to see the traditionally painted houses and chat to some of the villagers.

The children at the school are always very keen to meet the riders and horses. Sometimes they will sing and dance. Crayons, pencils, paper, paint, playdough, secondhand reading books and toys make wonderful donations for the school, if you would like to support them.

Day 6

Swimming with your horse

After a morning ride, you have the chance to take your horse swimming in the dam in front of the lodge, a fun and different experience!

The horses do actually swim, not just paddle, which is an amazing feeling when you realize they are swimming underneath you. The motion is bit like an old fashioned horse merry-go-round carousel at a fair. It is the perfect way to cool off after a morning ride.

Day 7

Western Games

A favorite with the children, but also remarkably popular with most adults. The team of guides run a Western games afternoon which is packed with fun exercises to test even the best of riders’ skills: pole bending, barrel racing, thread the sword through the stirrup, find the marshmallow, musical horses, the list is endless. It always make for a fun few hours in the saddle and again really brings out the team spirit in guests.

Day 8

Cross Country jumping

For those with jumping experience, there is a small cross country course. Jumping will be for individuals or small groups. After a warm up and few practice jumps, enjoy jumping on the course around the lake. Around the reserve, we also have a number of small jumps and jumping lanes that can be enjoyed by all level of rider on the outrides. English jumping saddles are used when specifically doing the cross country course. If you would like to wear a body vest , please bring your own with you.

Day 9

Departure

Enjoy a final delicious meal and favorite ride of your choice before departing back to OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible, and each day will be a combination of the above activities and/or non-riding activities.

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.

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $420

    Per person per night in a shared Garden Chalet during high season.

  • Pricing Variation
  • All prices per person, per night Low Season High Season
    Single Luxury Chalet $480 $625
    Shared Luxury Chalet $320 $415
    Single Garden Chalet $360 $455
    Shared Garden Chalet $320 $420
    Single Standard room $315 $420
    Shared Standard room $270 $355
    Third person in any room $265 $350
  • Transportation
  • $330

    Per person round trip 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