Monthly Archives: June 2016

Uganda – it’s wet in a rainforest

Here, near Jinja, we are slightly north of the equator (at Bwindi we will be south of the Equator) and so the sun rises and sets about the same time each day. At six it is quite dark but by 7 the sun is up (or what we can see of it through the forest).


We are away nice and early at 8. Soon we have to cross a major road to get to the riding area. At this small village there are many stalls preparing food for the minibuses and trucks passing by. Our horses are quite bomb proof.

This is the rainforest and it rains all year round. The rains last night have made everything vibrantly green. There isn’t much wildlife, but we do catch a glimpse of a couple of tiny monkeys high up in the trees.


One of the hazards we have to negotiate on this trip are the cows which are tethered by the side of the tracks. Although the cows have probably never seen a horse before, these ones are quiet.

On our very first morning a bull had become a little agitated and broken his tether. We “galloped out of danger” being pursued by a very fast running bull (fortunately with no horns). When we reckoned we had tired him out we stopped and turned to see him off and he meekly ran past and back to his owner ( we hope).

We continue to see many happy friendly people. There are no working horses or donkeys in Uganda, most likely because of the risks associated with Tsetse fly. Natalie takes her horses’ temperatures every morning and at the slightest increase will treat the horses for suspected Tsetse fly sickness or tick bite fever. Fortunately the treatment has good success if caught early.

Who can resist a photograph of another excited bunch of school children.

When the sun comes out you can almost feel the grass and crops growing. This open area in the forest is along a clearing for the hydro power lines.

But we also walk through the dense forest. The huge trees grow straight up towards the light and underneath is a thick vegetation. It is muddy underfoot.

Barbara is smiling here but not long after at our coffee stop, she accidentally stands on some fire ants. These little things quickly run onto your boots and trousers and bite like fire. But they don’t do any lasting damage – the attack is just surprisingly quick. With plenty of hands to help, we quickly got all the ants off her.

Later back at River Lodge I tried to take a photo of some crossing a track, but even though I was about 2 feet away, some quickly changed direction and headed for my feet. But the rule of walking in the forest is to always check where you are walking and have a torch at night.

Although Uganda has two main rainy seasons in April/May and again in November, actually it can rain at any time and it does.

We get a couple of minutes notice to get our ponchos out of our saddle bags and they keep us (but more importantly our saddles) mostly dry through an incredibly heavy tropical thunderstorm (the heaviest I’ve ever ridden in). The horses aren’t phased at all and so obviously such heavy rain is nothing new to them as we trot and canter back to the lodge.


I think reception at River Lodge were incredibly accommodating to allow us to bring the horses underneath the porch so that we could get the saddles off in the dry.

Tomorrow we head out of the forest and back to the Nile.

To read about other days on this trip, click below.

Arriving in Entebbe

Riding by the Nile and Lake Victoria

Schools, sugar and tea

Wild waters of the Nile

Mountain Gorillas

If you would like to join this fantastic riding adventure in Uganda, here is a link to our website with more details of the ride, the itinerary and the forthcoming dates and prices.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Uganda – schools, sugar and tea

Having all suffered a bit from the heat yesterday, we planned for an early start and so had breakfast as it got light at 6.45 and were on our horses by 7.30. As it turned out we woke to a grey sky and so it was very pleasant riding temperature of c. 18C – 20C (although still very high humidity). Although the main rainy season is April / May and November in fact it can rain all year round in Uganda. Everything stays green and with an all year round growing season the farmers can get four crops of maise.


We set off meandering along close to the banks of the Nile. About six years ago the Nile here had many rapids and the fishermen would often drown. Then a dam was built downstream for hydro electricity, the river rose about 6m and the water became flat and safe.


Education is supposedly free throughout Uganda but unfortunately the buildings aren’t always maintained nor the teachers paid and so they end up charging school fees which of course not everyone can pay. TJ and Natalie of Nile Horseback Safaris, along with others, set up a fund to build a school in their local village 5 years ago. It now has 400 pupils between the ages of 3 and 13. A local charity called Soft Power supports this and a number of other schools in the area. A number of us had used up our airline luggage allowance and brought children’s books etc and we’ve given them to the Soft Power charity to distribute where they think they are most needed.

It’s a humbling experience for us to visit the school. The teachers have a blackboard but not much else and the children are crammed in four to a bench seat in classes of up to 60 children.

But they are overwhelming pleasant and polite. We sneak a look at their exercise books and their work is very neat. One class is studying history of Uganda and copying from the blackboard in beautiful handwriting. Another class is working on fractions. “If a farmer plants 3/8ths of his field in maize, how much of his field is left?”

One room which looks like it might have been a shack turns out to be the nursery with a range of children from 3 years to 10 years who hadn’t been to school before and they were singing and reciting songs.

Riding on, we leave the small subsidence farms and enter a huge sugar plantation. The cane grows tall but there are great tracks for some long trots and canters. The clay is a little slippy this morning because of the rain last night and so we don’t go quite as fast as might be possible at other times.

Cutting cane here is a hard manual job. We pass some of the workers’ accommodation and the people here are poorer than we’ve seen before.

Next to the huge sugar plantation we ride past tea gardens.

Very unusually, the picking was being done by men with machines which were cutting the leaves and vacuuming them into a huge sack. I always thought tea picking had to be done manually so that the tips could be ‘plucked’ by hand but perhaps this was going to a lower grade tea and it didn’t matter so much?

We have a delightful stop for coffee and croissant (yes, we are being that spoiled on this trip!) at a lovely lookout.

Some kids have come to watch what is going on.


And of course delight in seeing themselves on camera.

One little chap is brave enough to ride – on my gentle giant of a horse – Jack Daniels.

Seeing people along the way is a big highlight of this trip. And one never feels so bad taking a photo when even the teacher takes out his phone and takes photos of us.

More great riding through this open countryside.


Our destination tonight is Rainforest Lodge set in the Mabira Forest.


There are 12 chalets set throughout the rainforest and connected by rather treacherous paths. It gets dark about 7 and the deafening frog chorus begins.

To read about other days on this trip, click below.

Arriving in Entebbe

Riding by the Nile and Lake Victoria

It’s wet in a rainforest

Wild waters of the Nile

Mountain Gorillas

If you would like to join this fantastic riding adventure in Uganda, here is a link to our website with more details of the ride, the itinerary and the forthcoming dates and prices.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Uganda – Riding by the Nile and Lake Victoria

It is the end of day 2 of our ride and already it feels like we have been in Africa for a long time. Although only 100 Kms from Entebbe to Jinja the journey takes almost four hours although we do stop for a coffee and a quick supermarket shop for forgotten things.

At last we bounce up a track and arrive at the stables and alongside them a lovely lodge where we stay for two nights.

Here is the view over the Nile from our porch.

After a beautiful lunch, our guide Natalie allocates us to our horses. We are each to have two horses to ride over the week and she lovingly explains their characteristics and foibles.

Natalie breeds most of the horses – the stallion, a striking coloured chap of about 16.2, rides out with the group. They are Irish sport horses crossed with thoroughbred, many of them competing in eventing in Kenya (a two day drive away) as well as being trail horses. They are fit and strong. Here are a couple of the young horses curious to see what was going on as we mount up.

This is me on the right on Jack Daniels, a much bigger horse than I’m used to and a wonderful ride.


The little nets over their noses are to stop them snatching at the crops as we ride past. Many of the crops are only inches from their noses and would be temptation to any horse. For the rural community through which we are riding each plant represents their livelihood


We walk where the track is narrow or there are a lot of people around but also have lots of long trots and canters some of them quite fast. The terrain is perfect for riding and we don’t have a single gate to do. We are just riding through the countryside along the tracks used by the locals. Some are very narrow but passable, some are being used by people and motorbikes and some are wide and we see the odd car.


We ride through lots and lots of villages. There are people living everywhere and they are overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming. The children run out screaming, their mothers and fathers wave. There are also many young men without any visible signs of work and we wonder how the country can cope with such a huge population and not enough work. Although there is clearly enough food to go around the young people with their smart phones and Internet access are going to want more.


As we approach this school during their break time there is a huge scream and much excitement. With an impressive respect for their teachers they were quickly brought into line.


This is Lake Victoria in the distance.


I’m particularly proud of this photo of a kingfisher taken with a point and shoot camera!


At the end of a spectacular day, we go on a boat cruise on the Nile.

Tomorrow we move onto the rainforest.

To read about other days on this trip, click below.

Arriving in Entebbe

Schools, sugar and tea

It’s wet in a rainforest

Wild waters of the Nile

Mountain Gorillas

If you would like to join this fantastic riding adventure in Uganda, here is a link to our website with more details of the ride, the itinerary and the forthcoming dates and prices.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Uganda – Entebbe (Olwen reports after day 1)

If you are of a certain age then flying to Entebbe and Uganda brings memories of the 70’s.  In 1976 the ‘Raid on Entebbe’ was a dramatic rescue by the Israelis of a hijacked plane at Entebbe. And before that in 1972 there was the expulsion by Idi Amin of 80,000 Ugandan Asians.  I was at secondary school in Northern Ireland at the time and was involved in a school/church project in Birmingham to help the Ugandan Asians settle into life in the UK.

Our first ride to Uganda filled up in a weekend, more quickly than any other ride we’ve ever promoted. For some it is the appeal of riding along the Nile, for others it is seeing Lake Victoria, for others it is to visit Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and of course the chance to see the mountain Gorillas is a huge attraction.

We’ve mostly arrived on Emirates from various points in the UK converging at Dubai for the flight to Entebbe and the Americans in the group have flown with KLM via Amsterdam. The pilot warns us of rain at Entebbe and so we arrive to a heavy grey sky. Yellow Fever vaccinations are checked as we arrive at immigration although I don’t know what happens to those in the growing queue at the medical centre, presumably without the all important vaccination. Are they vaccinated on the spot? – I’m just relieved that we are all safely through.


It’s a short drive to the lovely Boma Guesthouse which is set in the midst of lush green gardens (presumably benefiting from all that rain).

I feel that this African trip is going to offer the chance to experience a little of real Africa and it is perfectly safe for us to walk out of the guesthouse and explore a little. We change some money getting a huge wad of notes (c. 5000 Shillings to the pound).


These mannequins don’t follow the western world’s size zero standard!


I don’t recognise half of these vegetables but they look great.

Dinner at the Boma Guesthouse is superb, and not just because we’ve all had some 20 hours of airline food, with delicious  vegetable, fish and meat curry and home made ice cream to follow.


This little fellow reminds me of my puppy at home. I also hear an Irish accent and discover that the Boma is owned by a couple from Galway! So, all in all, a great start to the trip,

Tomorrow we journey by road from Entebbe to Jinja and meet our horses.

To read about the later days of the trip, click below.

Riding by the Nile and Lake Victoria

Schools, sugar and tea

It’s wet in a rainforest

Wild waters of the Nile

Mountain Gorillas

If you would like to join this fantastic riding adventure in Uganda, here is a link to our website with more details of the ride, the itinerary and the forthcoming dates and prices.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

In The Saddle Sponsors

Here at In The Saddle we’re super excited to introduce to you our new sponsored rider, Rosie Warner. Rosie is a local young event rider with big ambitions & we’re really looking forward to supporting her. In this post, Rosie tells us a little about herself, her ambitions and of course her horses.

Rosie says, “I am a 23 year old event rider, with an Equine Business Diploma from Hartpury College and an Equine Work-based Diploma through Warwickshire college.

I am extremely dedicated, hard working and committed to becoming a successful event rider. I would love to reach the top level of eventing with my string of home-bred horses. I do compete British Showjumping and British Dressage throughout the year, but eventing is my ultimate passion.

My top horse is Cult Legend, a 16.1hh bay gelding by Cult Hero. He’s currently competing at intermediate/2* and together we will be aiming for Advanced towards the end of the season. Cult legend, stable name ‘Aemon’, is a very experienced genuine horse and we have built a great partnership over the last 5 years. He is a very gentle, laid-back character who is super easy to have around.

Cult Legend, known as Aemon at home

Cult Legend, known as Aemon at home.

I also have a 5 year old Irish Sports Horse purchased from Gorsebridge sales last Autumn. He’s a very exciting prospect and I’m really looking forward to producing him through the levels. Ars Big Time, stable name ‘Milo’ is a gorgeous bay gelding by Ars Vivendi. Milo is extremely bold and has a fabulous scopey jump. He was just backed when I purchased him so I am producing him slowly and carefully as I believe he is a potential top class event horse.

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The handsome Ars Big Time, aka Milo

The final member of my competitive string of horses this season is Romeo, or ‘Finest Star’, a 4 year-old chestnut gelding by Wish Upon a Star out of Much of a Muddle, our elite graded broodmare (also the dam of Louise Harwood’s 4* eventer Mr Potts). Romeo was backed last autumn and will start lightly competing this summer. Romeo has got to be one of the most promising horses I have ever sat on; the fact that he’s home-bred makes it even more exciting! Romeo has excellent conformation, elastic natural paces and a serious jump…he is also a bit of a charmer!

The 4 year-old Romeo

The 4 year-old charmer Romeo

I have four more home-breds ranging from yearlings to 3 year-olds that all look to be very promising so far. One of my 2 year-olds is by the well known stallion Chilli Morning.

The next generation

The next generation.

I am so delighted to have the opportunity of becoming an ‘In The Saddle‘ sponsored rider. The support means a huge amount to me and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity”.

Thank you Rosie. It is great to hear all about your lovely horses and we wish you the best for the remainder of the season.

We shall look forward to hearing about Rosie’s progress and we will keep you updated with how she gets on in the coming months.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | Leave a comment

Blogging from Big Sky Country

Becky from In The Saddle is currently on an exciting adventure in Montana. In this blog we hear about her first few days, spent at Rocking Z.

Becky says, “After the long flights out to Montana the last thing I felt like doing was driving anywhere. However as soon as we drove outside of the Helena city limits it was totally worth it; it was just like stepping into another time. The beautiful countryside seemed to roll on forever with dramatic mountains creating the backdrop to our journey.

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Rocking Z – a perfect choice for aspiring and experienced Western riders alike

My first full day at Rocking Z was brilliant. Since I had never ridden in a Western saddle before I was nervous that I wouldn’t take to it or that I would just be terrible! However, I found the saddles really comfortable and the horses were just so responsive. We trailered up to a neighbour’s ranch and rode up into the mountains for a full day ride.

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Making dreams come true – moving cattle in Montana

I didn’t think the riding could get much better after the first day but then it was announced that we had to move cattle from pasture to pasture. Now this is genuinely my biggest dream come true, ever since I was little and used to round up my Grandad’s sheep!

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It may have been a long day in the saddle, but what an experience!

The riding was a little slower as we were crossing such varied terrain, but it was an experience that I will never forget. Even though I ride 5 times a week at home, I must admit that my legs were starting to feel the saddle a bit by the end of the day!

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How could you ever get tired of this incredible view?

When people said that Montana was ‘big sky’ country, I understood that they meant it was really open and beautiful, but I never truly understood it until I arrived. Once you ride up into the mountains you can look for miles in any direction and all you see is rolling green and sky. It is absolutely breath-taking”.

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A very happy Becky!

 

Thanks Becky – we’re looking forward to hearing more about your adventures over the next few days.

If you’ve been inspired by Becky’s blog and are looking for a last-minute getaway, then there is still some space at Rocking Z in late June. You can contact us on 01299 272 997 to book your place.

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Riding Holidays, Riding in Montana | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Catching up on Kenya

We had a lovely visit yesterday from Gordie and Felicia Church. It was great to catch up on news from Kenya and plans for the safaris ahead.

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Gordie & Felicia visiting In The Saddle, Shropshire

Felicia told us all about their much-loved safari horses. As she talks about them her eyes sparkle; they are very much part of the family.

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The horses are fit and raring to go, ready for upcoming safaris.

The horses are turned out at night in 4000ha, which means they are completely unfazed by the wildlife such as buffalo, who share their grazing.

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Fearless in front of all kinds of game.

Their safari tents were already top of the range but Gordie told us they have been completely replaced for 2016 so any of you going on safari are in for a real treat.

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A riding safari with Gordie & Felicia is synonymous with a good dose of luxury!

We also learnt about the success of the Mara private conservancies which offer superb game sightings without the crowds associated with the Maasai Mara Reserve.

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Great game sighting, without the crowds sometimes associated with the Mara.

Gordie reminded us that every day, wherever you ride, you are riding amongst wildlife – whether or not you travel during the wildebeest migration.

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Fabulous game sightings each and every day.

Non-riders or those just wishing to take a break from riding have their own fully fitted safari vehicle with a professional guide and so have amazing opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography.

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See the wildlife from a different perspective.

There is still space on the 8 night safaris starting 11 July, 21 July and 18 September. Don’t forget that the Kenya safari price is all inclusive of internal flights, road transfers and all concession fees.

This truly is a wonderful place to ride. Looking forward to a great few safaris ahead!

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If you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact the office on 01299 272 997 or via email rides@inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horseback safari in Kenya, in the saddle, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris | Leave a comment

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