We all have a competitive streak!

On my second full day at White Stallion Ranch, I took the opportunity to wander around and see the whole place and everything that was on offer.

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As well as riding, there are plently of other activities to do as well. The ranch has it’s very own tennis and basketball courts, a fitness centre, swimming pool and hot tub to mention a few. It is also possible to play golf and go rock-climbing (at an extra cost).

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After lunch it was time to get serious – team penning serious! I had a different horse this afternoon, his name was Tally and after getting to know one another, we headed into the corral. Russell True explained to us how team penning worked and gave up some tips before splitting us into groups of four. We then had three runs each to cut the cattle and get them into the pen. It was so much fun and because it was timed, we all got very ‘into’ it!

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We wrapped up just before dark and headed in for our barbequed steaks!

It really was so much fun – a must do at the ranch!

You can read about my previous days at White Stallion here:

Welcome to Arizona

Time to Amp it Up

Becky Clarke is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. She will also visit Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 4 Comments

Time to amp it up…

My first full day at White Stallion Ranch began with a morning of riding! I met today’s steed who was a lovely chestnut called Camacho and we set off on a slow flat ride.

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We were riding for about an hour and spent it mostly looking at the scenery and chatting merrily between ourselves.

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Soon after we returned, myself and another couple of ladies made our way to the corral where we took our lope test. Everyone who wants to go on a fast ride needs to complete this test first. The wrangler wants to see that you have control over the horse, are able to regulate the speed by yourself and that you do not bounce around too often. Fortunately I passed! and so headed out on a fast mountain ride to the ‘Lookout’.

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There was a steep climb to get to the top and the path was really quite rocky. However all you need to do is trust that your horse knows what he is doing and amazingly he does! Plus the view from the top is definitely worth it.

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In the afternoon, I decided to join a vehicle/walking tour of the ranch with a local film history expert, Marty. It was great fun learning about how many movies had actually been filmed right here on the ranch. As soon as we returned it was time for the weekly ranch rodeo!

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It was so much fun to watch the wranglers and family show us several different sports that are competed at the top level. We watched some barrel racing, team roping, break away roping and bulldogging. All the while the owner of White Stallion, Russell True, was a fabulous commentator, telling us all about the horses, people and disciplines we were watching.

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Once it dropped darker (and colder) the rodeo came to an end and we headed inside for dinner.

I have already signed myself up for team penning tomorrow!

You can read about other days at White Stallion here:

Welcome to Arizona

We all have a Competitive Streak

Becky Clarke is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. In a few days she will be moving onto Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 4 Comments

A Dressage Dream in the Orchard of Lisbon

Last month Abbie from In The Saddle visited Quinta do Rol, a family estate in the ‘orchard of Lisbon’. Here, she discovered excellent instruction and gorgeous Lusitano horses so well-trained that they are a treat to ride.

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With my own horse injured and having spent much of 2016 in the sick bay, when I got the chance to visit Quinta do Rol in Portugal I literally leapt at the chance. Dusting off my riding boots, I packed and pondered whether I could make it through airport security with spurs in my hand luggage (yes I could).

At Lisbon I was met by the lovely Teresa Pedro, who carries out most of the airport transfers for Quinta do Rol guests. Having spent many years working in the UK, Teresa’s English is perfect and she gives me some interesting background information on the area during the 40 minute journey.

Arriving at Quinta do Rol, I am met by Rita Melo Ribeiro, who along with her husband Carlos own the property. I’m staying in Casa da Águia, a traditional cottage with a spacious kitchen, light and airy lounge and four guest bedrooms each with their own private bathroom.

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The beautiful lounge in Casa da Aguia cottage

The main quinta lies across a small country road from the equestrian centre, which is nestled at the foot of a small hill, surrounded by orchards and vines.

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Quinta do Rol’s equestrian centre

This is a brand-new purpose built centre where the Lusitano horse reigns supreme. Their every need is catered for, with spacious stables, deep beds and regular turnout. Riders are spoiled too, with their very own lounge encompassing sitting room, well-stocked bar and viewing gallery to the indoor arena – perfect for continuing the learning process by watching other guests’ lessons or the instructors working the horses.

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The viewing gallery in the Rider’s Lounge

We watch resident instructor Pedro puts a new horse through his paces. He rides sympathetically and softly as the horse becomes accustomed to his new surroundings. There’s no tension, shoving or pushing, everything is calm and relaxation

After a delicious lunch of shrimp pancakes and salad, I head back to the stables for my first lesson. I ride the stunning Alamo, a 9 year old black stallion; his coat is gleaming, mane and tail brushed out, white boots on and hoof oil applied. Wow, well we certainly look the part and I can only hope my riding measures up. We begin the lesson and Pedro asks me about my riding dressage experience to date and what I’d like to achieve during my stay.

Lessons at Quinta do Rol are always on a private basis, so you can concentrate totally on what you wish. For example, if you’re struggling with your own horse’s flying changes at home, Pedro will give you some approaches to try and you can work on the movement on a few different horses to hone your skills before you go home. Pedro’s English is not perfect, but I can easily understand him and I really like his calm approach.

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Owner Rita, with her beautiful horse Alamo

Whilst we are warming up, Pedro explains how controlling the pace enables us to do anything we want with the horse. Soon we’re putting this into practice as we run through some warm-up exercises in walk; leg-yield, shoulder-in, travers, collection and extension. Next we move onto walk pirouettes and half-pass, before repeating some of these movements in trot and on into canter. After some single flying changes, we are on to the finale as Pedro helps me to ride Alamo in passage and piaffe.

An hour has gone by so quickly. Although my own horse is inexperienced, I feel that the fundamentals of what I’ve learnt today can be applied at home. Controlling the step and controlling the shoulders means that if you take things step by step you can in theory ask your horse to do anything!

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Resident instructor Pedro in the indoor arena

After a quick shower and change, we convene in the dining room and are joined by Rita’s husband Carlos. A delicious Quinta do Rol rose wine accompanies an local cheeses, olives and lupins. Dinner begins with beetroot soup, followed by pasteis de bacalhau (a delicious sort of cod fishcake), and finally Queijadas de Leite with coffee.

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The main dining room

Next morning the sun is shining and I set off on a tour of the estate with Carlos, Rita and Pedro. We wander through eucalyptus forests, pass by the dam and ride through the vines. If you are staying a week, taking a ride through the grounds can make a relaxing break from lessons and is a super way to learn about the quinta’s rural tourism. But with such fabulous horses and instruction, others especially those on short breaks may prefer to concentrate wholly on dressage.

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A tour of the estate’s vineyards with owner Carlos

As we return to the quinta the sun’s still out and it is warm enough for a dip in the pool. The current pool is in use until the new guest pool by the tennis court is finished.

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The main house and current swimming pool

After another delicious lunch of frittata, pork loin and Salame de Chocolate, it is time to head back to the stables. I wonder vaguely whether the fact that lunch ended up being a fun sort of informal wine-tasting session will improve or hinder the standard of my riding this afternoon!!

I ride Cochixo, a rather handsome grey stallion who is a little smaller than Alamo so I feel quite at home (or maybe it’s the wine?). Pedro tells me that this horse can get a little heavy in the hand when people take too strong a contact with him. So I must concentrate on activating the hind leg into a soft elbow and even contact and try to lighten the shoulders to get the best work from him. Working in, we begin with some shoulder-in, travers, leg yield and half pass in walk and then move on to trot and canter. He’s got a super canter and I feel I’ve got a better connection with him in canter than I achieved with Alamo yesterday (or maybe it’s the wine?). We do some spiral circles in trot and canter and some direct transitions to get the hind end activated.

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Cochixo and I after our lesson (as the light starts to fade)

Next we work on some passage and then piaffe, which is successful as long as I remember to ‘sit like a queen’ (the wine must be wearing off by now)! We end the session with some extended trot, building the power but not the speed around the corner and then pow, pow, pow down the long side, getting better each time until I’m grinning from ear to ear. I get a ‘very good, well ridden’ from Pedro and I’m so chuffed that you’d almost think I’d got a 10/10!

What is so special about Quinta do Rol is not only are these horses total ‘eye candy’, but there’s no resistance or evasion. The horses really want to work for you and that makes it such an enjoyable experience.

No rest for Pedro as he’s straight on to working another horse. Egoista is a big stamp of a Lusitano, with floating paces and good looks to boot. He’s relatively new and only given to the more established guests at the moment. Soon he’s showing us his two-time changes and then Pedro tries one-time changes for the first time and he seems to get the idea really quickly – he’s definitely going to be a star!

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Egoista, Pedro and Abbie (in the middle of adjusting stirrups hence the wonky irons)

As Pedro lets the horse stretch he unexpectedly tells me it is my turn…so up I hop and after a quick walk and trot, off we go in canter. Spiral circles and lengthening then shortening the stride. Egoista is so light in front and manoeuvrable – wow! What a great way to end my break in a Lusitano-lover’s paradise.

To find out more about Quinta do Rol please visit our website, call us on +44 1299 272 997 or email abigail@inthesaddle.com

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Welcome to Arizona!

My first full day in Arizona began as I was driven out of the Tucson city limits and towards Panther Peak and below it, White Stallion Ranch. dsc01660

The scenery was like nothing I have ever seen first hand and the cacti were absolutely massive. I was told that a cactus will not grow any ‘arms’ until it is at least 70 years old!

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After a lovely afternoon ride to a picnic spot, we stopped for some cheese and wine before returning to the ranch. After dinner we had a live show from the cowboy himself, Loop Rawlins! He was fantastic with this gun and rope tricks.

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After a long day and tiring day from yesterday’s travelling, I returned to my lovely room (this is a deluxe queen/twin) for a good night’s sleep.

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Read about later days of my visit:

Time to amp it up

We all have a Competitive Streak

Becky Clarke,  is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. In a few days she will be moving onto Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 4 Comments

I’m in my ‘ellie’ment!

Yesterday morning I had my final ride at Wait A Little and I was lucky enough to see the lions one last time from horseback.

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Gerti, the owner and host, then drove me through the neighbouring reserve to Garonga where I would stay the next two nights. (It is possible to visit Garonga either as part of a riding safari from Wait A Little, or to visit as a non-rider and enjoy the amazing game drives).

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My beautiful safari tent, overlooking the (currently dry) river.

Once at Garonga we went on an afternoon game drive and we saw so much. From giraffe, zebra and other plains game to a huge herd of around 30 elephants!

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Elephants are a personal favourite of mine and it was just incredible to watch so many pass our vehicle.

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Our guide and tracker during the stay.

The evening ended with sundowners with a lovely view and hyena crossing our path on the way back to camp! I went to bed with the sound of a lion’s roar nearby in the reserve.

This morning we headed out bright and early in search of game. Once again I was not disappointed, with sightings of buffalo, hippos and two huge male lions to name a few.

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What will this afternoon bring…

You can read Lucy’s earlier posts about her stay at Ant’s Lodges:

An Amazing First Day
Through Your Horse’s Ears
A Great Way To Finish The Day

and from her visit to Wait A Little
Seeing the Big Five ish..

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

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Seeing The Big Five… ish

After long goodbyes, I reluctantly left Ant’s Lodges and I have now been at the wonderful Wait A Little for a couple of nights – and already I have seen so much!

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We spotted a lioness from horseback – she had 5 cubs with her

On safari at Wait A Little in South Africa there is a good chance of seeing the Big Five. The term ‘Big Five’ refers to the five largest and most dangerous animals: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard. In just two nights, I’ve seen all 5…ish!

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A young bull elephant at Xidulu Lodge

On the seven night safari,  you stay for two nights at the beautiful Xidulu Lodge which overlooks a dam; perfect for spotting game.

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Two male buffalo cooling off – an exciting sighting from horseback

The horses are really brave and well behaved in front of game, so you can often get closer to them than if you were in a vehicle. The horses are great at standing calm and still, which is perfect for taking photos.

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A black rhino spotted during a game drive

Taking a game drive is great for when the horses are resting. You can also travel further into the reserve.

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And finally, the leopard….tortoise!

Unfortunately we haven’t seen a real leopard yet as they are very shy, but we did see this wonderful leopard tortoise pictured above. We still have a couple more days, so I am keeping my fingers crossed I’ll get to see the final member of the Big Five before I leave.

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Many thanks to Lucy for this first report from Wait A Little. We hope you get to see that elusive leopard!

You can read Lucy’s earlier posts about her stay at Ant’s Lodges by following the links below:

An Amazing First Day
Through Your Horse’s Ears
A Great Way To Finish The Day

If you wish to read more about Wait A Little, click here.

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. It’s an important part of her job and someone has to do it! We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 1 Comment

Holidays for Lusitano Lovers

In this blog post we take a look at the beautiful Lusitano and three of our Portuguese dressage centres where you can experience riding these wonderful horses for yourself.

Closely related to the Andalucian, the heritage of the Lusitano can be traced back to 900 B.C. and the primitive horses of the Iberian Peninsula.

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The beautiful Lusitano has many fans around the world

Lusitanos were originally used for farm work and as a cavalry mount. But the breed’s bravery, intelligence and athleticism mean that the Lusitano is also a popular mount for dressage and the traditional discipline of working equitation.

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Lusitanos are perfect for working equitation, as well as a wide range of other disciplines

If you would like to ride a flamboyant Lusitano in its native land, then why not consider one of our Portuguese dressage holidays?

Monte Velho
A firm favourite amongst In The Saddle guests, Monte Velho is dressage paradise in the heart of the Alentejo. Your host Diogo Lima Mayer and his team, will ensure you enjoy your stay so much, that before long you’ll be planning a return visit.

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Coralie teaching in one of the outdoor arenas

What sets Monte Velho apart are its incredible horses, excellent instruction and first-class accommodation.

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One of the stunning Premium Rooms

The semi-private lessons are delivered by experienced instructors who compete regularly. This means that any bad habits are quickly picked up on, to ensure you gain those few extra marks in your next competition, or simply get more out of the horse you ride at home.

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A lesson with Joao in the sunshine

Take a break from instruction with a relaxing trail ride through the cork oak plantations, passing the mares and foals along the way.

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The end of a trail ride Monte Velho-style

Recline by the pool with a glass of wine as you gaze out over the lake, or watch the instructors working the competition horses. This is your holiday and you can spend your time exactly as you please.

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The swimming pool at Monte Velho, with the lake beyond

You can read more about Monte Velho here. You may also wish to read my blog here.

Quinta do Rol
New for 2017 is Quinta do Rol, a family estate just north of Lisbon which is dedicated to rural tourism, wine production and the noble art of dressage.

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Pedro schooling in the indoor arena

Here, pure-bred Lusitano horses live like kings in an impressive purpose-built equestrian centre.

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Quinta do Rol’s impressive equestrian centre

Once you’ve seen the horses you won’t be able to wait for your first lesson, because they are well-muscled and so beautiful to behold; definitely not your ordinary dressage schoolmasters!

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The beautiful ‘Alamo’ concentrating hard

Lessons at Quinta do Rol are always on a private basis, so you have the luxury of being able to concentrate wholly on what you wish to achieve.

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Lessons are delivered on a private basis

The resident instructor is Pedro Teixeira Farto, whose creative, passionate and clear approach to teaching will ensure you see great improvements in your riding.

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Pedro & Alamo

Accommodation is in three spacious guest cottages with private bathrooms. Each cottage has a terrace or garden area, where you can relax between riding sessions.

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A typical guest room at Quinta do Rol

When not riding you are welcome to make use of the swimming pool and tennis court. Or perhaps you’d like to watch other guests having lessons or the horses being worked from the comfort of the luxurious riders’ lounge.

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Relaxing with a drink in the riders’ lounge

You can read more about Quinta do Rol here.

Alcainça
Alcainça is a long-established and very well respected centre offering quality classical dressage training. You are sure of a warm welcome from senior instructor Georges Malleroni and his team.

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Georges Malleroni

The pure and part-bred Lusitanos are trained to a high level and are able to do shoulder-in, half pass, flying changes, piaffe and passage. Riders are split according to their experience level, with between two and four riders in a lesson. It is possible to pay a supplement for private tuition if you prefer.

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A lesson with Georges in the outdoor arena

Whatever your level, your teachers will be keen to see you improve. When you are not riding, you can relax by the pool or in the lounge area.

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The terrace and swimming pool at Alcainca

If you are keen to explore a little of your surroundings, then you could visit the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art at Queluz; go to Mafra or Lisbon.

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Alcainca is a Lusitano lovers’ ideal destination

You can read more about Alcainça here.

For more information or to discuss any of these great holidays, please do call me on +44 1299 272 239 or email abigail@inthesaddle.com

We look forward to arranging your next riding adventure!

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A Great Way To Finish The Day

Since riding over to Ant’s Nest from Hill, I have ridden two different horses. The first was a beautiful dun gelding, Rifiji. Next was a sweet little mare called Ice. Ice is a veteran in the group but still enjoys a good fast canter!

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This afternoon I decided to join a game walk. Our guide talked about the trees and pointed out tracks in the sand which we would have missed on horseback.

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All 10 rhino visited us this evening

We finished the day with sundowners at Ant’s home, the owner of the reserve. And here we saw the rhino! They slowly strolled in from the bush for their dinner.

dsc02592This has been a truly special day seeing these huge wild animals so close. I could have watched them for hours as they interacted with each other, showing their dominance and protecting their young calves. But slowly, they all headed back into the bush for the night.

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Baby saying ‘hi’ to dad as mum watches closely from behind

You can read Lucy’s other posts from her trip to Ants Lodge by following these links below:

An Amazing First Day

Through Your Horse’s Ears

If you wish to read more about Ants Lodges, click here.

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. It’s an important part of her job and someone has to do it! We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 4 Comments

Through Your Horse’s Ears…

Today’s morning ride leads us through the reserve where we find zebra, blesbok, impala and warthog.  We were also lucky enough to spot an African goshawk and a colourful paradise flycatcher.

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Looking back through my photos this afternoon, I love the game shots which are through my horse’s ears. We managed to get close to the zebra as they are so relaxed with the horses.

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Our lead guide, Craig, answered the age old question and told us – zebras are in fact white with black strips. But he then threw a spanner in the works by telling us they have black skin!? So I’m not 100% sure now…

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At the end of each ride, we simply un-tack the horses and set them free into the reserve, whilst we enjoy sundowners. Because they live together,  the horses and game are very accustomed to each other.

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You can read Lucy’s other posts from her trip to Ants Lodge by following these links below:

An Amazing First Day

A great way to finish the day.

If you wish to read more about Ants Lodges, click here.

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. It’s an important part of her job and someone has to do it! We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 4 Comments

An Amazing First Day

I landed into Johannesburg Airport to be met on arrival by my driver, Jonny. It takes just 2.5 hour to reach Ant’s Hill and I have already seen impala, ostrich and wildebeest on route.

dsc02359 Lunch is served on the verandah with the most incredible view! I already feel at home as the friendly staff introduce themselves.

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After lunch we head out on the horses in search of game. I am given Shumba to ride – a beautiful bay gelding.

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My room tonight is World’s View – and what a view it has! I’ve never looked forward to having a bath so much. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings…

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You can read more about Lucy’s visit to Ants Lodges by following these links:

Through Your Horse’s Ears

A Great Way to Finish The Day

If you wish to read more about Ants Lodges, click here.

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. It’s an important part of her job and someone has to do it! We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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