Equestrian Safety

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – John Sobey from Macatoo, Botswana

Continuing with our meet the guide blogs here is another talented and popular guide, John Sobey from Macatoo –  you will be able to meet John at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Macatoo?    

We started Macatoo back in 1995, so it is over 20 years now.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

Before Macatoo I was based in Maun, Botswana doing mobile safaris (1993-95), as well as guiding in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. I have also guided on horseback in Kenya and Tanzania.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to live and work in Africa, so guiding seemed to be the natural route to take.  Also I knew more about horses than cars so horseback guiding was really the only option for me! I first went to South Africa, but soon realised that Botswana was the only place offering the true wilderness that I was searching for.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I have no idea, there was no Plan B!

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5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

There really is so much that makes the job amazing, not least because guiding in the Okavango is always different, it’s never the same. High water, low water or no water, the seasonal variation is never-ending. That is why I came back to the Delta out of all the other locations. The down sides are you cannot watch enough rugby (but given England’s recent performance perhaps that’s a plus….?!).

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse was ‘Ambos’, a 16.3hh Hanoverian. He was an amazing powerhouse of a  horse but was the perfect, trusting lead horse. He would lead in to any problem without question. Who would he be if he was a human…that’s too tough a question to answer, but probably somebody brave!

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7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I couldn’t live without the open spaces and the wilderness, it’s what I’ve become so used to now.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

There really are so many memories, its hard to choose. Galloping alongside a herd of giraffe and zebra with Sir  Mark Todd was not bad!

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9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

With a book or newspaper back at my tent overlooking the floodplains.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

I would say don’t think that it it’s going to be easy; there are no quick routes. You will have to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up, but the end result will be worth it.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Holidays are few and far between, but where possible I try to get out to visit other camps and lodges in Botswana to learn more and get more ideas. After being out in the bush for long stints it’s also nice to just to relax and spend some time at home.

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Thank you John for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet John from Macatoo at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding Macatoo, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Pat Retzlaff from Mozambique Horse Safaris

Here is another very talented guide & owner – Mr Pat Retzlaff from Mozambique Horse Safaris.  Although Pat, will not be attending himself, you will have the chance to meet his daughter Kate who will be representing him at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding in Mozambique?

I started at Mozambique Horse Safari in 2006.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I grew up on a farm in Africa and come from a long line of horse lovers. I farmed in Africa before becoming a horse guide.

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3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you? 

Well it was the politics of our country Zimbabwe. We had farmed for 34 years in Zimbabwe and sadly we had no choice but to leave. We brought 104 rescued horses from farms in Zimbabwe into Mozambique. You can read the story in our book which was published by Harper Collins “104 Horses” by Mandy Retzlaff.

(Olwen from In The Saddle says, “this is a fascinating read – if you haven’t already, do get a copy”)

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4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I never imagined I would end up a Safari guide if things had remained as they are I would still be farming in Zimbabwe.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

Mozambique is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and has 2,500km of beautiful beaches. We run our horseback safaris in the Bazaruto Archipelago and the views take your breath away. We meet wonderful people from all over the world. The downside is trying to source things and the lack of equine vets and equipment. We are fairly remote here and even a bottle of wound powder is hard to come by.

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6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

There are no favourites at Mozambique horse safari. Human? – they are all far too human.

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

It would have to be my hat.

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8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

There are so many but one of the most memorable was when I first started riding on the beaches and a school of dolphins came close to shore. They were obviously really curious about the horses so followed us along the shoreline.

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I go and talk to the horses and make sure they are all settled and well.

pat and bird - Copy10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Work for somebody who is passionate about horses and work with as many horses as you can. Make sure you listen and absorb.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I don’t go away often but I do like Europe.Mozambique Horse Safaris 011

Thank you Pat for your amazing photos and another wonderful article.

You will have a chance to meet Pat’s daughter, Kate from Mozambique Horse Safaris at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding Mozambique, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Shane Dowinton from Horizon Horseback Adventures, South Africa.

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran the event in 2007. It’s a chance to learn about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another legendary guide, Shane Dowinton from Horizon in South Africa.DSC_1164

1.    How long have you been guiding at Horizon?

Since 1993 – 22 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I was a guide at Daintree National Park, Far North Queensland, Australia.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I hung around and helped out at a riding start-up in Cape Tribulation, Australia. I got hooked on seeing the beauty of the rainforest from the back of a horse and the qualities of bush horses.

Alaska South Africa Photos Shane4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I’ve never had a Plan B. Ever!

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I love meeting new people and hearing their life stories. The downsides? My chaps are starting to get a bit worn.

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

Jinksy is my primary guide horse and she would resemble Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider for boldness and general sassiness, but with a hint of Cameron Diaz for occasional spookiness and dizziness!

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7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

Jesus Christ.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

We have guests that have returned to Horizon annually for more than 15 years and being caught up in one aspect of their life story and having an impact on it has been thoroughly rewarding.

shane9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Reading, playing guitar, cooking for my family.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Be passionate about everything.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

My house.

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Thank you Shane for the fantastic images and another insightful article.

You can meet Shane from Horizon at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, Horizon, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Annemee van Aubel from Cerfcheval, France

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular guide – Annemee van Aubel from Cerfcheval, France.    IMG_9312

1.    How long have you been guiding at Cerfcheval?

I started guiding here in 2001.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I am Dutch but worked for a while in France doing different things to get some experience and to learn.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I love travelling on horseback and also showing people around. This is a very good way to really get to know a country and visit places that you would not otherwise see.

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4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I never made a plan B, but I was a sailing instructor in the past. I really enjoyed this time in my life, but I prefer the contact with the horses and my dogs that my current role provides.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I love to be with my horses and to work outside, discovering new landscapes and making new friends. The difficult sides of the job are being responsible for everybody and staying positive even when the weather is bad and things are not going as you would like them to.

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6.    Can you tell us about your favourite horse?

I don’t have one favourite – I have three! I love my mule Sascha, my half Arab Oslo and my lead horse Imperial who had a difficult history before he came to Cerfcheval.

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

My pocket knife and my dogs.

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8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

It is difficult to choose, but one of the most memorable was a 650km ride I undertook with my son from Cerfcheval to Lyon. Another memorable ride was with a guest who wanted to swim every day on the Monts de Blond ride. It was October and rather fresh, but I managed to find some mountain lakes for him. He would swim out quite far and I was left on the bank wondering if I’d have to jump into the really cold water to help him if he got into difficulty!

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Apéro, (as we say in France), followed by a good meal with a glass of wine with fellow riders.

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10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

It is a great job. Don’t count your hours and find yourself some good horses, as they are your best friends and need to take people around safely.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Often in the Pays Basque with my dogs. I don’t take holidays very often. Otherwise I just take my horse, my mule and my dogs and discover some new parts of France.

Thank you Annemee for sending some lovely images and another interesting article.

You can meet Annemee from Cerfcheval, France at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding france, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in France, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Jenny Richardson from Castle Leslie in Ireland

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another experienced guide – Jenny Richardson from Castle Leslie on the Emerald Isle.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Castle Leslie?

I have been the Equestrian Business Manager at Castle Leslie Estate for 4 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

Before this I was the manager of the Burn Equestrian Centre in Belfast and then before that I was head instructor at Jebel Ali Equestrian Club in Dubai.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I had a keen interest in horses all my life. I started riding at an early age of 3. My parents were into horses but against me going into horses for a career, as it involves such long hours and hard work!! At the age of 16 I went to Enniskillen College and studied a National Diploma in Business and Finance with equine options. I got good grades and then progressed onto the Higher National Diploma and then finally a Bachelor of Science degree in Equine Science along with my BHSAI. When I graduated I was keen to work with horses and got my first job in Dublin running a small riding school and teaching; at this point I knew it was for me!Pic 3 - Jenny and client Clinton and Castle Leslie Blue

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I guess I always knew it was going to be something with horses at an early age and never give any thought on anything else!

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I adore meeting different types of people from all over the world and the stories they have to tell. Every morning when I look at the lake at Castle Leslie Estate I think I’m an extremely lucky girl to have this on my doorstep. I have a great job you never get sick of the fantastic grounds at Castle Leslie and the spectacular wildlife.

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

Apart from my own horse, my favorite horse is Percy. Percy is on loan to Castle Leslie Estate, from Lady Caledon. He is a 15.2hh striking looking cob who has a fabulous personality. He walks as if he is Brad Pitt and takes a lot of guests by surprise as they often think he is a plod but actually he is a pocket rocket!!

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7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I guess my horse Daisy. She is fab out on hacks and is a pure lady when it comes to getting on and off and giving people leads. She is very trusting even when deer jump out last minute.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

Every ride at Castle Leslie is memorable. The estate is 100 acres so you never actually get bored!! From marriage proposals, seeing unique wildlife, to falling into the lake and taking out famous stars it’s actually hard to pick!!!

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I love spending time with my horse Daisy and I also own a short hair miniature sausage dog Dylan so I enjoy walking him. I also enjoy a nice glass of wine!

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10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

It’s a tough game!! Rain, hail, snow and shine you’re outside. You will meet all sorts of guests. Occasionally there are some people who may not be as experienced as they think and it’s your job to look after them and keep them safe whilst still making sure they enjoy their stay. You also need to have all your teaching certificates and know a lot about the country and other countries so you can keep the conversation entertaining. If you can speak other languages then this is an added bonus!!IMG_0721

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I tend to stay away from horses on holiday as I would feel it’s like a busman’s holiday!! I like to go and visit friends in Dubai or enjoy spending time in Ireland.

Thank you Jenny for sending some of your photos and for your help in producing another great article.

You can meet Jenny from Castle Leslie at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: castle leslie, Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays ireland, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Duncan Over from Kujwana, Botswana

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another of our guides – Duncan Over from Kujwana in Botswana.

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1.       How long have you been guiding at Kujwana?

I have been the camp manager at Kujwana for a year after volunteering here for a month previously.

2.       Where did you guide before this?

This is my first job in Africa. Before coming here I was an officer in the British Army. Having spent time in Kenya training I had already caught the African bug. I came to Kujwana as a guest three years ago and fell in love with the camp, the horses and the delta. From then on I had only one job in mind and last year it became a reality.

3.       How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I was inspired by a very close friend of mine who worked out here for many years. Whilst I was in the Army he would send me constant insights into life in the Delta and I promised him I would at least visit to see it for myself. After finally finding the time to visit him and meeting Barney and PJ (the owners of Kujwana), as well as our lead guide Rodgers I was inspired by their knowledge of the area and the animals and wanted to learn more about it for myself. A year after visiting as a guest I returned as a volunteer and was further amazed by the intricacies of the area and the job. I wanted to learn more about the animals, the area and how to run a camp in the middle of the bush and luckily in PJ and Barney, I had two of the most experienced people in the business to teach me. From then on I was hooked and every day I continue to be amazed and further inspired by my surroundings.

4.       If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

If I hadn’t moved out here I would still be in the Army. I was still enjoying my job at the time of leaving and only left due to an insatiable urge to get back to Africa. I was very fortunate that the timing was right and a space opened up for me in the company. I haven’t looked back since!

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5.       People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

There are so many things I love about this job. I love the fact that I am out on horse back almost every day and in such an incredible setting. Every morning I get up and look forward to the day ahead, knowing that it will be different from the last. I’m not sure I will ever find riding at home in Scotland as exciting again without the constant presence of antelope, giraffe and elephants. Not to mention the burst of excitement when one spots a lion, leopard or honey badger!

I also thoroughly enjoy the interaction I have with the guests. I have learnt more about the world and its cultures from sitting around a camp fire with the huge variety of guests we are lucky enough to have then I ever did travelling with the Army.

I can honestly say that there are very few downsides to my job. I suppose the distance from home and limited communications with family and friends would be the biggest. I work incredibly hard and for very long hours, but after a career in the Army I considered this the norm so it really doesn’t bother me. I don’t think there are many jobs in the world that you can truly believe are perfectly suited for you. I am however fortunate enough to have found one of them.

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6.       What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse is called Black Mamba. A Kalahari farm horse, he arrived at Kujwana in 2011. One of six wild horses backed out of the Kalahari desert, he gained his name from the hissing noise he made at anyone who approached him when he first arrived. An amazingly brave and caring horse, Mamba and I have had some great adventures together.

Who do I think he would be if he was human? That’s a difficult question! His best friend in the yard is a horse called Scorpion – another of the Kalahari ponies – they make a great pair and they often remind me of Dennis the Menace and his pet dog Gnasher as they charge around the yard causing the chaos. They are both incredibly brave horses but are full of mischief and take every opportunity to remind you who is boss! Not quite a human but probably as close as I can get! Mamba is a fantastic horse with a strong character and he is always my first choice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7.       What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I want for very little out here and I am used to living without many of life’s little luxuries, such as tv! As I learn more about the Delta and its many inhabitants I think the most valuable thing (actually a person) to me is Rodgers our lead guide. Having worked here for 25 years his knowledge base is second to none. The most patient and laid back man I have ever met he has been, and still is, teaching me all there is to know about reading animal behaviour, tracking and surviving in the bush. An incredible individual whose passion for the Delta is second to none. I think my time out here to date would have been very different without his guidance and teaching.

8.       What has been your most memorable ride?

There have been so many memorable rides for so many reasons. It’s always incredible to get your first sighting of a rhino, leopard, lion or wild dog. I often get more excited than the guests! For me though I think a ride that I will never forget was in July this year when we rode with a pack of wild dog as they prepared to hunt. My favourite animals in the Delta, it was incredible to see them prepare and then spread out in prefect formation to pursue a Tsessebe. We watched from a distance as they surrounded their prey and eventually made the kill. A very successful pack I have followed their progress closely over the past few months. They now have 5 new puppies and I take such pleasure in seeing them healthy and thriving.

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9.       How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I have a beautiful veranda that looks onto the river running past the camp. After a long day’s ride I always take some time to myself to sit and watch the Pied Kingfishers diving and reflect on the day. This is normally aided by a cold beer of course!

10.   What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

My advice would be to get out there and give it a go as a volunteer first. This gives you a great insight into the company, living in the environment and allows the outfitters to see you. After this you can build on the skills that you have seen are required and work towards applying for a permanent job. This type of work is not suited to everyone and it takes a lot of time and money to get permits to work abroad. Volunteering allows you to confirm that it is the job you imagined it to be, and trust me, you will know very quickly. Be prepared; you must have a skill set suited to the job and be willing to put in some seriously hard work.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

I have so much of Africa still to see that on my time off I normally stay within the continent and travel to new places. I do love to go home to Scotland however and enjoy trips in to the Scottish highlands.

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Thank you Duncan for your wonderful images and a wonderful insight into your life in the Delta.

You can meet Duncan from Kujwana at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.



Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding france, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding kujwana, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Louis Geyer from Cape Winelands, South Africa.

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular guide, Louis Geyer from Cape Winelands, South Africa

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  1. How long have you been guiding at Cape Winelands?

Since it was established in 2008.

  1. Where did you guide before this?

I was guiding at Horizon here in South Africa.

  1. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

It was a life choice and meeting people like Carmen Cowley and Shane Dowinton made it easier.

  1. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I never needed a plan B!

  1. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I love spending the time with people sharing a common love. The down side is the lack of time to get to know the people better, from whose lives you touch.

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  1. What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

I can honestly say I don’t have one particular favourite riding horse. However my up and coming Shire cross stallion called Charleston is the love of my life as I had him from birth!

  1. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

My own saddle that has come with me for 16 years already.

  1. What has been your most memorable ride?

Seeing an English lady in her 70’s transform into a 16 year old girl on the gallops across the plains! An inspiration.

  1. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

A good old South African Braai with friends is the best way to relax after a busy day.

  1. What advice would you give a 21 year old who wants to train for your job?

Get some formal and recognised equestrian qualifications, ride as many horses as you can (especially the difficult ones), learn to accept that administration is part of working with horses and travel a lot. The people you will meet have been all over the world and you need to be able to hold a conversation with them outside of horses.

  1. Where do you go on holiday?

Every year I do a ten day safari in the Kruger away from horses spending time with my family.

Thank you Louis for giving us an insight into your life as a riding guide.

You can meet Louis from Cape Winelands at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, riding south africa, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Oliver Christen from Homoki Lodge, Hungary

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is a special article from the owner of Homoki Lodge Hungary, Oliver Christen.

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1.    How long have you been welcoming riding guests to Homoki Lodge?

It’s now been nearly ten years since the first guest arrived here at Homoki Lodge.

2.    Did you do any guiding before this?  If now, where did you learn to ride?

No, I did not guide before. I learned to ride here in Hungary.

3.    How did you get into riding and/or guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

It was back in 2001 when the local Hungarian Cowboys (Csikos) caught my attention and also gave me the opportunity to  learn about their way of riding, which is a natural style and mainly taught by your best teacher “the horse itself”.

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4.    If you hadn’t started taking guests at Homoki Lodge, what was your Plan B?

Actually there was no plan B. I was burnt out from my former profession. Living and working  with the horses it became excellent and well-needed therapy for me.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

Probably it is indeed the ideal job for those who are completely open to the wonder of nature and its creatures allowing us to discover the world together. The down side is that in the you still have to cope with daily duties in order to run a business well.

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6.    What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

The name of the favorite horse is Vigéc (not the German word for how are you) it is Hungarian and means ‘agent’. He behaves more like the Habsburg’s emperor Franz Joseph and rules his herd by questioning if they are actually allowed to revolt!

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

That is simple, the smell of nature with its hidden adventures.

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8.    What has been your most memorable ride?

I remember a beautiful day guiding out in the Puszta region, we were passing a farmstead. During a canter I saw a buzzard picking up a chicken in the yard and then to my surprise it dropped its prey right onto my lap! My reactions were quick and and I was able to catch it and bring it home alive. It was an ancient breed of chicken and we were able to raise lots of this particular breed for many years. Our guests are still enjoying their tasty eggs for breakfast!

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Having a glass of a good Hungarian red wine and enjoying the peaceful and relaxing surroundings of Homoki Lodge.

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10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

To be aware of any little issue that might spook a horse. Always make sure that distances between horses are kept by all riders and check constantly for riding comfort within the group. Be friendly and communicative with your guests and let them know about fauna and flora as well as local traditions.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?
We only have time to go on vacation during winter and tend to go to a quiet romantic place with sandy beaches and turquoise sea.

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Thank you Oliver for some the images and for another intriguing article.

You can meet Oliver from Homoki Lodge at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

 

 

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Hungary, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Jenny Bawtree from Rendola, Italy

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another legendary guide – Jenny Bawtree from Rendola in Italy.

Jenny

  1. How long have you been guiding at Rendola?

I have been guiding at Rendola for over forty years.

  1. Where did you guide before this?

Previously I had been employed as a guide by a Swiss company in the Abruzzi Mountains east of Rome called “Rentahorse”. Not only was this company rather elitist, but it also had too many horses, too many employees and too few clients. It was not surprising, then, that it went bankrupt soon afterwards.galloping!

  1.  How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I must be grateful to “Rentahorse”, as it gave me the idea to create a riding centre that was completely different: with the aim of bringing the love of horses and riding to people from all walks of life.

children6 If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

When I first came to Italy I was a teacher of English at the British Institute in Florence and later obtained a post as reader at Florence University. However, I am a countrywoman at heart and wanted to pursue a career that would permit me to live in the countryside. Opening a riding centre 30 miles south of Florence enabled me to unite my love of the Tuscan countryside with my love of horses. I have never abandoned teaching and still hold classes for children during the summer months. I also have a few advanced pupils whom I enjoy teaching very much.

  1.  People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I love the Tuscan countryside and really enjoy showing it to my guests, naturally on horseback. We have riders from all parts of the world and through my work I manage to meet a lot of interesting people. My riders are, in my opinion, the cream of every country: they ride not because it’s a fashionable thing to do, not because they want to show off their smart clothes, but because they love horses, good company and the countryside. The downside? There isn’t one for me! Of course, it involves a lot of work and long hours, but I am a happy workaholic anyway so this is not a problem.

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  1.  If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse is Silver, a grey Arab gelding. You could compare him to Gregory Peck, as he is good-looking and a perfect gentleman.

  1.  What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

What could I not live without? Well, obviously riding in the Tuscan countryside with its infinite variety. But I am also passionately interested in medieval Tuscan art and architecture and enjoy sharing my knowledge with my riders, offering them tours of local art-cities. I pursue my studies whenever I have the opportunity, mostly during the winter months. I also enjoy writing. I have written “Pietro’s Book”, the story of a Tuscan peasant farmer, published by Collins in 2003; the original Italian version is now into its third edition. Recently I have completed my autobiography ‘Tuscany on horseback: a horsewoman’s love affair with the land of Chianti wine’ for which I am trying to find a publisher. I am now working on a book about a fascinating but little known aspect of medieval sculpture. I haven’t mentioned my son Nicholas; I certainly couldn’t live without him: who else would deal so patiently with my frequent problems with the computer? He is a journalist but finds time to help me in all sorts of ways.

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  1.  What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

My most memorable week was a few years ago in October. I was guiding a group of riders round Chianti and it had been raining so much that all the tracks had become torrents. When we arrived at the river Arbia, what was usually not more than a sluggish stream was now a raging mass of water a hundred metres wide. I ventured into the edge of the water until it reached my stirrups; then I looked back and saw five very pale faces! We turned back to our base, stopping only once to relieve ourselves, holding our raincoats over our bare bottoms in a vain attempt to keep them dry. When we got back to our base my colleague drove the riders to their hotel outside and in view of Siena, whereupon one of them, a paediatrician from Hawaii, threw herself on the floor and had a tantrum, demanding to be taken to the airport immediately! We did not comply, of course. Later I told some clients about this episode and one said that a paediatrician from Hawaii had done exactly the same thing on a trip in France…

Shewing horse at Rendola

  1.  How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

How do I relax after a day in the saddle? After dinner I usually sit with my guests either outside the house or in the sitting room beside the fire, drinking some red wine and chatting. If I’m alone I read or listen to music, mostly classical. But I go to bed early because I’m an early riser, (I usually get up at about five.).

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

What advice would I give to a 20-year-old who wants to train for the job? Spend at least a year with a veteran guide. So much he or she can tell you about the job you will never find in books. Ride as many different horses as possible, as each one will teach you something more about this fascinating but complex animal. Interest yourself in every aspect of the area where your riding will take place: the flora, the fauna, the agriculture, the history. Not only will you be able to answer your guests’ questions, but it will make your rides much more interesting for YOU. Always give safety a priority: accidents can happen, but make sure that your lack of attention or sense of responsibility has not put any of your riders in jeopardy. Don’t expect to get rich if you take on this job; but you will enrich your life.

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Where do I go on holiday? Usually to England, where I still have friends and to which I still feel attached in spite of so many years spent in Italy. I usually go alone on long-distance walks, particularly in the North of England. I have also been on very enjoyable cultural tours in Italy, France and Germany.

Thank you Jenny for your wonderful images and a very insightful article.

You can meet Jenny from Rendola at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, rendola, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays italy, riding tuscany, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get packing! What to take on a riding holiday…

A riding holiday is different to your usual getaway, which means there are a few things that you should definitely not forget to pack in your suitcase. Your exact requirements will vary depending on the trip you are taking, and all good travel companies will provide you with a list tailored specifically to your holiday, however here are a few things to bear in mind wherever you will be riding…

Safety is paramount
Before you think about packing anything else you should ensure a riding hat is at the top of your list! We thoroughly recommend taking your own hat whenever you are riding abroad, and make sure it meets all the latest safety standards and has been correctly fitted to you. Many destinations do provide hats, however taking your own guarantees the fit and comfort, and let’s face it, who wants to wear a hat that has been on someone else’s head for many hours before? There are many well-ventilated, lightweight helmets and hats available on the market so ‘hat hair’ and a sweaty head don’t have to be a concern!

Olwen on beach in Portugal

Best foot forward
This is probably the most important thing to remember, second to your riding hat! Equestrian footwear has been designed specifically with a stirrup friendly sole that enables you to keep your feet secure in the stirrups, yet also enable you to slip them out quickly and easily in the event of an accident. Trainers are not appropriate footwear to wear around horses, not only could they potentially get stuck in the stirrup, they also offer no ankle support and when on the ground, if a horse treads on your feet you will certainly know about it. The most popular choice is a short ankle length boot with a rubber sole and these double up perfectly as walking boots as well.

Choosing the correct footwear will provide you with support, comfort, and peace of mind that you are secure in the saddle. You may choose to wear tall boots, however consider the temperature if you are going somewhere warm and if you are riding through water don’t take your best leather tall boots as they are not likely to stay looking smart for long! A popular choice for travellers on a riding holiday are short boots and lightweight chaps because you get the lower leg stability and grip that you would from a tall boot, without the heaviness of long boots. Look for chaps made from breathable fabrics that don’t require ‘breaking in’ and will give you that second skin feel so you can forget you are even wearing them!

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Clothe for comfort
The clothing you pack for a riding holiday needn’t be fashionable and trendy, it should however be comfortable! When you are spending many hours in the saddle this is a priority and while bringing perfectly colour co-ordinated, stylish items may look great at the beginning of the day, by the time you have ridden for a morning you will be pining for comfortable breeches and a soft cotton shirt!

We recommend riding in jodhpurs or breeches. Some people find denim comfortable however don’t choose a riding holiday to break in that new pair of skinny jeans though – you will probably regret it!

Keeping cool

If you are travelling in a hot country then lightweight, breathable clothing is ideal. A long sleeved, loose fitting cotton shirt will not be restrictive, yet will protect you from the sun and provide a pleasant draught to help keep you cool. There are also many technical fabrics available in riding and sports clothing which can help protect you against UV rays, whilst also keeping you cool and dry. Some hot countries can get chilly in the evenings, especially places like Africa where you may be sitting around a campfire under the stars, so do take a jumper or jacket to offer protection when you need it.

Olwen at Moolmanshoek, South Africa

Staying warm
If you are escaping to a cold country then layering up is key to staying warm. Consider investing in thermal base layers. In particular, items containing natural fibres such as merino wool offer excellent heat trapping properties. Wearing multiple lightweight layers will help trap air and still allow for flexibility, rather than one or two thicker items, which can leave you colder and with restricted movement. Choosing items that are breathable such as fleece will help regulate your temperature as you may find that at times you get warmer than others, for example, when you are going for a long canter or walking your horse down a mountain path. Good quality thermal socks and gloves are also recommended – there is nothing worse than cold feet and hands when riding and if you are not fully prepared this can spoil your enjoyment. For outerwear choose something that will protect you against the elements, many jackets are windproof and waterproof, particularly those including fabrics such as Gore-Tex. Try and take a jacket that has been designed for riding to ensure you have complete freedom of movement in the saddle. Equestrian wear is designed with vents and adjustment to allow you to maintain your position without the risk of draughts or discomfort.

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A few suggested extras
Sun protection. You may think that this is only relevant when going to a hot location, however the sun can be very strong all year round in many parts of the world, particularly in snowy destinations. Remember to bring good quality sunglasses, sunscreen and if you are going to a warm country then a wide brimmed sun hat to protect your head and face when not in the saddle.

Lip Balm. Cracked and dry lips are not pleasant and can occur in any destination, at any time of year. Take a ‘chap stick’ style lip balm that you can easily reach when riding and walking so you can keep your lips moisturised and protected against the elements.

Camera. You will undoubtedly want to capture many of your travel moments on camera so don’t forget a small hand held camera that is easy to carry, and make sure you have plenty of spare batteries and an extra memory card!

Binoculars. On most trips there will be amazing views and vistas to take in so make sure you can see widely with a pair of binoculars.

Bum Bag. These are ideal for keeping your essentials close to hand while you are in the saddle and are less bulky and restrictive than a rucksack. Keep a small pack of tissues and wet wipes within the Bum Bag so you can clean up when out on trail rides.

At In The Saddle we provide every client with a detailed ‘what to pack’ list specific to their holiday. For more information about the holidays on offer and the destinations you can travel to visit www.inthesaddle.com

 

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, Ranch holidays, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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