Riding expeditions

Big Adventures on the Big Rivers Ride

In this blog post we hear from In The Saddle guest Sarah Grant, who was part of an intrepid group of riders who undertook the adventurous Big Rivers ride in June 2017.

This exploratory ride journeyed into the Caprivi strip, Namibia’s tropical paradise whose borders are determined by several big rivers. The charm of this area is that it is a corridor for game moving between Botswana, Zambia and Angola. This extraordinary area of biodiversity is in contrast to Namibia’s normally arid landscape. In summer the floodwaters spill out over the riverbanks onto the wide open plains of Linyanti and Liambezi, much like the Okavango does in Botswana.

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“We are riding alongside a wide stretch of water somewhere in the Caprivi, North Eastern Namibia, shortly before sunset. It’s the first day of the 2017 Exploratory Ride, an annual ride that Andrew Gillies of the Namibia Horse Safari Company runs each year, to explore somewhere new in the vast nothingness that is Namibia. It’s a chance to go somewhere that no one has gone before on a horse, but be prepared for the unexpected…

Back to the first day. Setting off from our first camp on the Kwando River, we’ve had a happy day getting used to our horses (mine, Big Red, is an honest, friendly red chestnut gelding, quite powerful and a bit cheeky), getting used to each other (a group of 11 riders from 6 different countries, all of whom have ridden with Andrew at least once and in some cases many times), and getting used to two constant features of the ride – the many herds of cattle herded by the local ethnic groups, with their rather fearsome horns, and the crowds of excited children, who follow us shouting with excitement at seeing 15 riders and 19 horses suddenly appear in their village.

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Who’s herding who?

Now, with the sun slipping close to the horizon, I am secretly thinking: shouldn’t we be at camp by now? Time for sundowners perhaps? “No problem,” says our guide, Andrew, consulting the GPS, “it’s only 5km away.” Until we find a wide water channel, inconveniently placed between the camp and us. With virtually no daylight left, and no way round, the order is issued: “Swim the horses across! Bring the old campaigners first!” I’ll be the first to admit, swimming a horse I don’t know across a channel that may or may not have crocs in virtual darkness is not my perfect idea of an end to the first day, but there was nothing to do except point Big Red at the river, and hope for the best.

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A river crossing at dusk – on an exploratory ride you have to expect the unexpected

We did all make it across, and we made it to our camp, tired, soaking wet but high on the adventure of it. Red usually crosses the Namib Desert, but he swam across that channel like it was second nature, and earned my respect and gratitude. We spent the evening futilely trying to dry boots and blankets around the fire, and cheerfully recounting the adventure.

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The handsome Big Red

This is my first Exploratory Ride with renowned guide Andrew Gillies. I went on the Namib Desert ride last October, which was an incredible, unforgettable experience. Only a few months later I’m back for more.

This is what life on safari should be all about, wonderful company, living close to the earth and time for those quiet moments alone, just you and your horse. Big River Safari, Caprivi,

What life on safari is all about…those quiet moments alone with your horse

The Exploratory Ride goes to a new area each year, although there is a recce trip some months before by vehicle. So when the ride heads off the road, it really is across open country, navigating by landmarks and GPS. You do need to be prepared for things to not go according to plan. When Andrew and Phoebe did the recce trip in November 2016, they found the Linyanti floodplains full of buffalo. When we got there on the fifth day of our trip, the floodplains were covered in three metre high reeds, towering over our and the horses’ heads. We spent hours pushing through them. Andrew had to resort to the simple navigation technique of standing on his horse’s saddle to try and see where we should be going.

CROP 4 who needs gps anyway (thanks to Clare and Jenn Lawson)

Who needs GPS anyway? (Thanks to Clare and Jenn Lawson for the image)

Andrew & co are fantastic at these rides. They have an amazing back-up team that bring food and water (for horses and humans) plus tents and bed-rolls and loos and showers and many other comforts for life in the bush. On most of the Namibian rides you sleep under the stars, but on this ride we had tents due to riding through areas populated with large predators. The horses were guarded by night, with their picket line surrounded by the rest of the camp and fires which were kept going through the night in lion areas.

This is what life on safari should be all about, wonderful company, living close to the earth and time for those quiet moments alone, just you and your horse. Big River Safari, Caprivi,

Savouring the simple routine of camp life, with great company

Camp life is refreshing in its simplicity. I wake each dawn to the sound of the horses on the picket line calling for their breakfast. My first thought is to get coffee (I’m addicted), which never tastes better than from a metal mug with a rusk as the sun rises. Breakfast is in the circle of camp chairs around the fire before grooming my horse and taking it to where the tack is stored on a long tarpaulin, secretly hoping to get some help from our guides, Andrew and Telane, as I find the saddles so heavy.

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Beautiful Namibia at daybreak

We are riding about 30km a day, from the start at the Kwando River to the final camp at Mutoya on the Zambezi. The going varies, between long stretches of open bush (or ‘veldt’), small areas cultivated by the locals, scrub, floodplains and woodlands. There are many shouts of ‘holes!’ (belonging to aardvarks) and ‘thorns!’ (the ‘wait a little bit’ bush). Where we can, we make up distance by doing some of Andrew’s famous LSD – Long Slow Distance – at a steady canter along the road shoulder. There can be anything from elephants or zebras crossing, to villagers greeting you, to lorries sounding their horn right by your horse (thank you Red for only shying a bit).

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One of the many river crossings

When we reach camp, the first thing is to see to the horses. They are un-tacked, allowed to roll and taken for water. Then they are put on their allocated place on the picket line and fed.

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Walking the horses the final few hundred metres into camp at the end of the day

Later they will be groomed and fed again, and Andrew and Telane, will do the ‘ward round’ to check for any sore backs or other ailments. Once they are seen to, the bar will be open – G&Ts (with ice, even here) and Windhoek beers all round. Then find your tent, have a shower, have some delicious food that is incredible considering where we are, and chew the fat until bed.

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The horses enjoying a roll and a drink at the end of the day

The joy of these rides is the freedom. It’s hard to put into words the immense nothingness of Namibia. It’s beautiful. Seeing it from a horse you have time to take in the huge mackerel skies, the vivid greens and yellows of grasslands and bush, the belts of trees on the skylines, the blue of the water channels. You have time to talk and bond with your fellow riders, and time to think and let the city life of home recede.

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Beautiful mackerel skies

There was also the local life to see. In the Caprivi, life is harsh on this unyielding land, with the challenges of living with elephants and lions, and the clash of old and new cultures. We had a talk from Lisse Hannsen of the Caprivi Carnivore Project about how to ensure conservation and humans can co-exist.

Horses are a rare sight here and the leader of one village begged us to stop until the whole village could see the horses (he got a ride on Andrew’s horse).

Although hard to believe in the 21st century these locals have never seen a horse

Many of these villagers had never seen a horse before

There are many other tales from this trip I could write about – galloping through water (someone got a ducking), trucking the horses home one day with the riders sitting on top because we couldn’t make the full distance before dark, the time Big Red decided a short cut through a thorn bush was a good idea – but perhaps the best thing to do is go to see for yourself the immense nothingness that is Namibia. The best way to see it? From the back of a horse, of course”.

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The wide open spaces are unforgettable.

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A huge thank you to Sarah for writing this wonderful account of her adventures in Big River country. What an incredible experience and a huge well done to you and fellow In The Saddle guests Clare Anderton, Nicole Appert, Clare Lawson and Jenn Lawson for completing this challenging ride.

If you’d like to experience some more of their epic adventure, then check out Namibia Horse Safaris’ video from the ride here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbCR4xTuI7w

As well as the annual exploratory ride, In The Saddle offers a range of adventurous trail rides in Namibia guided by Andrew Gillies:

Namib Desert: A challenging 300km journey across the oldest desert in the world to Swakopmund on the coast.
Damara Elephant Safari: Fast riding through the vast and spectacular landscapes of Damaraland, tracking elephant and rhino along the way.
Desert Canyons Safari: Explore the open plains of the Southern Namib and see the famous Fish River Canyon.
Wolwedans to Wild Horses: A breath-taking journey taking you from the great dune sea of the central Namib to Klein Aus Vista near the home of the Wild Horses of the Namib.

For more information or to book your place please contact Abbie on +44 1299 272 239 or via email abigail@inthesaddle.com

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding holidays namibia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Rides for 2017 – Costa Rica

In this mini-series of blogs we learn about some of the new In The Saddle rides for 2017. From cantering along sun-drenched beaches in Greece, to viewing big game in Swaziland, we hope one of our new adventures will be right up your street.

First up is our exciting exploratory ride in Costa Rica.

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Our new Wilderness Ride takes you from the pristine rainforest of Carara National Park into the high coastal mountains of Turrubares.

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Go off the beaten track to experience rural Costa Rica at its best.

You’ll journey along mountain trails and forest paths far off the beaten track. Your guide will be on hand to help you identify flora and fauna along the way. You might spot species like macaws, toucans, coatimundis, sloths, pecaries and perhaps even the elusive jaguarondi.

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You might spot toucans along the way.

During the first part of the ride you explore Carara National Park, one of the last significant portions of primary rain forest in the Central Pacific region and a destination popular amongst wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

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Keep looking skywards and you could see sloths in the canopy above.

The park is a great spot for seeing scarlet macaws, boat-billed herons, fiery-billed aracari and American egrets.

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Scarlet macaws are often spotted in Carara National Park.

Later on in the week you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views as you climb into the coastal mountain ranges. As you ascend you will notice the forest changing in constitution and characteristics; the lower temperatures encourage the growth of ferns, moss and bromeliads.

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There are wonderful views as you approach the coastal mountain ranges.

Your first and last nights are spent at a comfortable hotel in San Jose, but during the ride itself you stay at more authentic accommodation which reflects the style of rural Costa Rica.

You’ll spend two nights at Rio Carara Lodge, nestled in a secluded part of Carara National Park. There are no near neighbours, so you are assured a tranquil atmosphere to make the most of the rainforest.

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Spend two nights at the peaceful Rio Carara Lodge.

For the next three nights you stay at Finca Galán, an ecological farm in the Turrubares Mountains. Here you can relax and unwind in peaceful surroundings. Be woken by birdsong as the first rays of light creep into your room. At night the sounds of the tropical forest will lull you to sleep.

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Experience the delights of rural Costa Rica whilst you stay at Finca Galan.

You could be riding for up to 6 or 7 hours a day and so you’ll need to be riding fit to undertake this challenge.

This is an exploratory ride, so you will be the first intrepid guests to undertake the ride. It is sure to be a wonderful adventure. Numbers are strictly limited, with only 2 places remaining. The ride will run from Saturday 25th November to Saturday 2nd December 2017.

If you’d like to hear more about this exciting In The Saddle adventure, or book your place then please contact Sarah on +44 1299 272 997 or email Sarah@inthesaddle.com for more information.

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

News from Namibia

Preparations are well under way for the month-long Epic Safari in Namibia – the very first of its kind.

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The Namibia Horse Safaris team are busy preparing the 70 horses required for this incredible ride. Vehicles are already beginning to transport 45 tons of food, water and equipment in readiness. The horses will require some 28,000 litres of water during the safari – that’s a heck lot of water in a desert environment!

The Epic Safari route will run from Damaraland in the north to Lüderitz in the south.

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The first leg of the journey will include mystical Twyfelfontein with its famous rock engravings, the incredible landscapes of Damaraland home to desert-adapted elephant and the forbidding Skeleton Coast.

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Next the group will cross the oldest desert in the world, the Namib, from Swakopmund on the coast to the Namib Sand Sea of Sossusvlei.

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On the final leg of the trip riders will journey from the beautiful Wolwedans reserve, over wide open landscapes and remote plains until they reach the coastal town of Lüderitz. Here the adventure comes to an end.

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What an amazing sense of achievement the riders and guides will feel dismounting at the end of this Epic Safari having covered an amazing 1,000km on horseback!

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Will any other trip ever compare to this unique adventure? Memories of this Epic Safari are sure to last a lifetime.

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There is just 1 place remaining on this ultimate adventure. Are you intrepid enough to take up the challenge? If so, please contact Abigail@inthesaddle.com or call us on 01299 272 997.

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Categories: Equestrian Travel, Riding expeditions, riding holidays africa, riding holidays namibia | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article written by Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland.

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1. How long have you been a riding guide?    

Since 1985.

2. Did you do any guiding before becoming involved with Hestasport?

No, I learned first to guide and lead horse tours from old friends, Björn Sveinsson and Ragnar Stefánsson. I grew up in the countryside of Skagafjörður, in north Iceland. Our valley is often called “The valley of the horses” because history and breeding of the Icelandic horse is very connected to this place, all the way back to the time of settlement. I studied to be a marine engineer and sailed between the harbours of the world for many years, but the countryside and horses were always on my mind.

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

Sveinn, the father of Björn was a very good friend of my father and we can say that he started long horse riding tours in Iceland in 1974 when he rode with a group of 13 riding guests from Switzerland across Iceland from North to South. Of course people have travelled on horseback all around the world for thousands of years, but this way Sveinn was the “founder of Hestasport”.

I was fascinated with everything connected to these tours. The horses were beautiful and in great shape, the adventurous riding trails surrounded by the untouched highlands of Iceland were breath taking.  To me horse riding is like a dance between two different worlds. Therefore it was especially great to see how much horse people from other countries enjoyed exactly this feeling, when riding the unique gated horses in the Icelandic nature. The Icelandic horse is the only breed in Iceland and as far as we know, the only naturally five gaited horse breed in the world.  So for a long time Icelanders didn’t realise how unique this breed had developed on the island, since the first settlers brought it here.

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

I liked to be a sailor, but I have always been a nature “lover”. I was interested in the idea of sharing nature experience with other people by building up tourism in Iceland and especially in my area, the Skagafjord, where so many possibilities were not yet discovered.

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?

To open possibilities for other people to experience the same exciting and fun things that I love so much. To enjoy the horses in the wild Icelandic nature and create some unforgettable memories.

Guiding and organising horse tours is a huge physical and mental effort. But of course it is also fulfilling and lots of fun and that’s also where the energy comes from that I need!

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

After so many years of guiding horse tours it is a bit hard to make a difference between many unforgettable good horses that were my favourites. Every single one of them had it’s own unique characteristics. I adore horses that are courageous, soft, strong, willing to work and know where to put down their feet. Many of them are gone but I am happy to mention: Taktur, Búi, Gimsteinn, Jarpur and . . . and . . . what about comparing them to . . .  Rolando! 😉

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

I need to be alone every once in a while.

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

A lot of years ago we were riding the Kjölur route across the country on a six day tour, with 13 guests who were all men from the Faroe Islands that were all relatives and friends. This tour was memorable for a lot of reasons. I will gladly tell you the stories of this trip when we meet in Iceland.

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

After a long horse trip I like to go for a walk and then relax in the hot tub.

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

Use those good years and gain some more knowledge and experience from lots of places.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

I love to visit warm countries with a lot of sunshine. Last year I was in Nepal to visit good friends.

IMD Horse Riding Trip 2015-2363

Thank you Magnus 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 Magnus from Iceland 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 Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Iceland, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Rudi from Catalonia in Spain

Here is another popular guide Rudi Stolz from Spain. You can meet Rudi at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1. How long have you been guiding in Catalonia?

It’s been 21 years now!

2. Where did you guide before this?

Before I came to Spain, I used to work as a mountain guide in the Alps.

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

I always loved working with the horses and had the idea of doing this work in Spain. I decided to move to Spain and build up my own business with trail riding –  and that’s how I got into guiding. I came here with an inspiration and did everything to make my idea become true.

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

There was no Plan B for me. I knew I wanted to offer trail riding in Spain and did all that it needed to make this plan work – and it has worked.

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?

Actually, to me this job is truly perfect. Being outside, being with horses and with people is a perfect combination for me. I cannot imagine any other job that could be as satisfying as mine!
The downsides? That’s the paperwork that unfortunately also needs to be done!

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

My favourite horse is Tornado. If he were a human, he would be a very important friend of mine. Someone to whom I have a special bond, a very trustful relationship. I know that he would do anything for me and the teamwork is simply perfect. That’s how it is with Tornado – he is as powerful, reliable friend who has my full confidence.

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

Horses! As a guide I cannot live without a very good lead horse. And generally, I just can’t imagine a life without these animals around me.

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

Once I had a very special guest; a blind man contacted me with the wish to come on a trail with me. I invited him to come to Mas Alba for two days to see if it worked. I took him out on rides  and we tried out the different situations that you deal with on a trail. The result was that he did the Mediterranean Trail – and it was amazing, how he managed everything! He totally fitted into the group and he did everything the others did; he brushed his horse, he put the saddle and the bridle on by himself, he always knew where his things were and where he had to go. It really was a miracle and to me the most memorable ride with guests I ever had!

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

To me, the question should be how I relax after a day that I do NOT spend in the saddle…really, being in the saddle is nothing I have to relax from! The moment I get on my horse, I feel like being on a holiday!

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

Of course it is important that working with horses is the thing you really want to do and the thing you’re good at. Then, you also have to be sensitive to the people whom you guide. But the art of being a really good guide is to create a unity out of these two beings. Having a sense for bringing horses and people together and make them harmonize is a challenge – and it is a great thing when you see it work! Another important thing is that you keep in mind the time you spend away from home. Being a riding guide is wonderful, but you should really think about if this part of the job is something you can – and want to – handle.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

Actually I don’t really need to go on holiday, as my job gives me the feeling of being on holiday. But when the season is over, I have time to see other places. I travelled to Europe, North and South America – wherever I go, I spend my holiday there on horseback!

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Thank you Rudi 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 Rudi from Spain 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 Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Yair Sharet from Israel

Here is another very talented guide Yair Sharet from Israel. Meet Yair at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding in Israel?

I established Sirin Riders in 2010 and I have guided all the rides ever since then.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I never guided rides before. I used to organize trail rides for group of friends all over Israel, but it was not until I started Sirin Riders that I began to guide in a professional way.

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

Horses for me are not a hobby, they are a way of life, from the day that I remember myself  I am with horses. As a boy that was born in Kibbutz at the Jordan valley, I use to spend most of my time with my horses exploring the beautiful places of the Jordan valley. At a later stage I bought purebred Arabians mares that I used for breeding and trail riding.
In 2010, I left my position as EVP global marketing & sales for multinational company. I wanted to open my own business. The combination of horses & tourism attracted me. I surfed the net and there I saw some web sites offering international riding holidays. I read some of these web pages, and then I said “Israel should be in this industry, and I will be the one that will make it happen”…and the rest is history.

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

I would have stayed in the multinational business management arena.

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 really love what I am doing. In some cases I find myself riding on a Saturday morning, while I know that on Sunday I am about to start Tour Israel ride of 7 riding days, then I realize that in my free day (in Israel Saturday is our free day) I do exactly what I am doing in my working day!

I like the way that group of strangers that I meet at the airport at the beginning of the ride, transform within few days to a team of riders and friends. I love to see how the landscape changes every time, although we ride on the same trails. I enjoy watching the change in the perception in my guests’ minds toward Israel when they learn how beautiful and welcoming Israel is.

On the other hand sometime I miss the economical benefits of being top manager in multinational company.

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

My favorite horse is my purebred stallion Velaskes. He is a retired racing horse, I imported him from Russia in 2014.

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It’s a pure joy to ride on him. He is a very special combination of a top athlete and a very responsive horse. As a breeding stallion he has some “issues” with mares so I use him for our trail rides just as my lead horse and on very special occasions. He reminds me of Alex the lion, from the movie “Madagascar” – Beautiful, strong, and full of self esteem!

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

A “must have” when I am on a ride is my coffee saddle bag. It gives me the option to prepare coffee wherever we stop for a break and whenever it’s needed. I carry on my saddle bag everything that I need in order to solve most of the problems that may happen during a ride.

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

The Exploratory Ride with In The Saddle in April 2011 is a week I will never forget. So much rain, every possible problem that could happen happened, and lot of nice ideas from my side that didn’t really work. At the end of this week I was so exhausted and depressed, and I was sure that that’s the end of my relation with In The Saddle. But then I had a feedback meeting with Tracy, who explained how impressed she had been with the horses, guiding and our ability to overcome the obstacles we encountered during the week. I can say that we improved dramatically from this 2011 ride.

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

I relax during the ride, because when I come home after the ride I cannot relax – not with 5 children aged 9 to 22!

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

Go for it! It is the best thing that you can do for a living. A word of caution – don’t make any promoises that you can’t fulfill, just surprise them when you can do more.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Skiing with the family at Monte Genevre in France.

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Thank you Yair for some fantastic images and another amazing article. We all look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Yair from Israel 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 Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Israel, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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.

PatDuke CharlotteEcho

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.

Pat Best

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.

Shane & cows

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 – Paulo Junqueira from Ride Brazil

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 –  Paulo Junqueira from Ride Brazil.
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1.    How long have you been guiding on the Bahia Beach and Canyons and Waterfalls rides?

8 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I had not guided prior the starting with Ride Brazil, although I did quite a lot of solo riding throughout Brazil in search of exciting trails.

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

I always wanted to live and work with horses and this opportunity came about when I found out that Brazil has the third largest population of horses in the world. It also has excellent horses and a huge variety of trails to explore. Brazil wasn’t yet a destination for international riders as there were not many quality rides available. I did some research into how rides were run in Africa, Spain and Argentina to learn all that was involved in the responsibility of guiding people on a ride.

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

Living in the countryside with my horses gives me a great opportunity to write, which I love doing. I would love to study and work in horses ethology and also write about my own experiences.

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 what I do because I can turn someone’s holiday into an unforgettable experience; an experience of a lifetime. The recognition I receive at the end of the ride is something that is priceless. I wouldn’t say there is a downside to guiding rides in such beautiful places, along with people who love horses; it is always a great pleasure. Although it is also a great responsibility, and sometimes (luckily very seldom) we have people who don’t understand that we are dealing with an animal and we have to be flexible.

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

Enduro do Haren was a favourite of mine. He was a wonderful stallion who sadly died a few years ago. Now I have favourites on both of the rides I guide. In Bahia it is Shakira and in the Canyons area it is Ornero. At home my favourite horse is my palomino called Elmo.

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

I could not live without nature. City life is not for me anymore. When I am guiding it is essential that I have a brave horse who is always ready.Canyons ride (3)

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

I can say that I am always lucky to have good groups. pantanal

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

I like talking with guests in the evening about how the day’s ride has gone. I also enjoy sharing my experiences gained from riding around the world.

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

I met some people who were interested in guiding as they saw it as an adventure and an opportunity to travelling. First of all, you need to love horses and great determination. First apply as trainee in a good destination with a reputable company. Then follows the hard work!

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I like to discover new places with new cultures while on horseback.

Thank you Paulo for the fantastic images and another interesting article.

You can meet Paulo from Ride Brazil 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 Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, riding holiday brazil, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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