Posts Tagged With: in the saddle equestrian adventure

Wondrous Wait a Little

Africa does tend to seep into your veins, and often once you have visited this astonishing continent for the first time, it is almost like a poison in which you feel the need to go again and again – you just need to get yet another fix of her formidable sights, sounds and experiences.

Wait a Little in South Africa certainly lived up to my expectations and provided me with my African drug, whereby horses, game and laughter were overdosed on throughout the week.

In the space of 7 nights I ticked off each and every member of Africa’s Big 5, plus countless other game and bird species – and trust me when I say that there’s not many places where you can do that easily within one week, especially whilst on horseback.

My first encounter was with the lions, and whilst riding one evening past a dam we stood to watch the crocodiles and hippos in residence. “Oh hello there” announced Philip our guide for the week. We (the guests) were so busy chattering about the ducks upon the dam and musing as to how come the crocs weren’t eating them, that we had failed to notice initially just to whom Philip was referring to. As a collective we all looked into the direction of his comment to see four lionesses watching us watching them!

“Let’s take a closer look!” said Philip and off we went, all grouped tightly behind him. We slowly made our way towards these ladies. It was such an intoxicating feeling, I was scared, nervous but also daring, the result of Philips professionalism and experience with guiding over decades. Our bravery was rewarded with 30 minutes of my life alongside these formidable felines, and if I’m honest I not sure who was the more intrigued or who was studying whom.

me with lions

After a while these ladies decided to look at us from a slightly different angle, and so we shifted our positions too and were afforded a new view. I still can’t believe how close I was to them! But my picture tells a thousand tales…

me with lion

We bid farewell and rode home before the sun dropped out of the sky – taking on the African sunset en route with a victory gin and tonic (well it had to be done surely).

My second days adventures didn’t disappoint, and within 100 metres of camp we discovered lion tracks. Did these ladies come looking for us overnight? There’s a saying about curiosity and a cat isn’t there?

But it didn’t stop there as today we met with our second of Africa’s Big 5, the elephants.

This was a mixed herd of bulls and cows, and it was hysterical to watch one of the ladies tell us in ‘ellie talk’ to “go away please”. She did this through the universal language of throwing a stick at us! I do not lie, she literally picked up a stick and threw it at us. There was no misinterpreting her meaning, and you could feel her frustration when the horses stood like rocks, ignored the sticks and didn’t move away. She then became curious as to why her bullying hadn’t worked and gradually crept closer and closer, with her trunk extended tentatively trying to touch the horses – but not quite daring herself to do it.

elli from horses

During this week you stay at Wait a Little camp for the first three nights, then at Beacon rock where you sleep beside the horses under the stars, followed by two nights at the stunning Xidulu Lodge on the Makalali reserve before returning the the homely Wait a Little Camp for your last night.

It is a wonderful blend of experiences, and after spending the night around a camp fire, sleeping next to your trusty steed and reliving a night in the life of a missionary, it is a real treat to rock up the next day to Xidulu Lodge in the neighbouring Makalai reserve. This lodge is simply stunning and overlooks a dam complete with hippos and crocodiles. In fact within 10 minutes of being there we watched Mr Crocodile take his luncheon upon a poor unsuspecting bird at the waters edge.

Having indulged in my own lunch shortly afterwards, and then taken my afternoon ‘nap’ I woke to the astonishing sight of a leopard sitting on the edge of the dam just some 50 metres away. As we were about to take afternoon tea, followed by a game drive, I hotfooted it to our guide Patson, and excitedly told him of my sighting. Off we went in search of her, and luckily just some 10 minutes later we found her (or rather Patson did) with her fresh kill.

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We were so close to this our third of Africa’s Big 5, and she wasn’t bothered by us in the slightest. After filling her belly, we watched her jump up into the tree right beside us and stash the remainder of her kill in the branches. There’s something very primative at seeing half an eaten antelope hanging from the branches, and apparently this lady had a litter of cubs to feed, so we assumed that this hoard of fresh meat was for them.

Leopard in tree

The next day we came across a first for me, the endangered black rhino on horseback.

We had seen two of them upon arrival at Makalali, but we had spooked them and they were running so fast through the bush at great speed, trampling everything in their path that I hadn’t time to get my camera out, in fact gripping my reins in terror was more the truth (just incase they changed direction and ran that fast at us)!

However today was my incredibly lucky day and I was so privileged to get so close to this staggering animal – Big 5 number four spotted. We all gazed in complete silence and with absolute respect at his colossal presence, and it is with a heavy heart that we have to accept that man is capable of such monstrous widespread acts against this giant creature. Thank the Lord for the guides, rangers and protectors of this animal, the work they do is priceless and above a figure of value. Their never-ending war and efforts against the poachers, and more importantly against the instigators of these violent crimes, is invaluable and they will win of that I am sure.

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But my experiences go on and on….

close male lion

This Majestic fellow above and below was met upon our last sundowner ride of the week!

male lion with ears

And this herd of buffalo were met upon our last morning (completing the Big 5 tick list).

buffalo

Our final canter provided us with the everlasting memory of a giraffe cantering alongside with us….

giraffe

A final word has to be given to the praise of the Wait a Little horses. Such a well schooled, perfectly behaved, brave selection is to be found at their stables. There is an equine partner to match everybody, tall and short, fast and steady, grey, black or dun. But what they all have in common is that they are all really cool during the game sightings and stand like rocks, brave and fearless. My hero of the week was a chap called Monarch (2nd in from the right), whose nickname of “Bush Ferrari” was incredibly apt. He was an adorable and competitive character that wanted to get everywhere first, and carried me steadfastly all the way, that I didn’t have to worry at any moment in time about what we would happen to come across! I adored him and that is the truth (but please don’t repeat that to my mare at home).

I’ve been rambling on so much about the game, that I haven’t even mentioned what fun riding we enjoyed. We bush-wacked around acacia trees and through Wait a Little bushes, we galloped along sandy tracks and across even terrain, we blasted down the currently dry river beds… and not one horse put a hoof-oiled toe out of place! They are an absolute delight to ride, and at sundowners in the evening you can practically see your reflection in their gleaming coats. They are the wondrously wonderful!

group picture

Visiting Wait a Little is like home from home, everyone is so friendly, such fun to be around and my only criticism is that you will gain a few more laughter lines across your face during the course of your week.

So you would think that for the time being my hankering need for the drug of Africa has been abated, but actually thanks to this wonderful trip, it has put a greater fire in my belly which is yearning to return…. signed off for the time being (Sarah – In The Saddle.com)

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris, riding south africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mad about Macatoo

Famous for its exciting riding and thrilling game viewing, In The Saddle guests continue to be ‘mad about Macatoo‘. Here are just a few recent comments;

“Exceeded the highest expectations. It will almost certainly remain the most memorable and enjoyable riding experience in 25 years of riding holidays abroad”. (Ingrid, UK).

“Another brilliant ‘holiday of a lifetime’! The highlight of the riding this time was cantering full speed with a group of about 20 giraffe so close we could almost hear their heart beats!” (Linda, UK).

“This was my fourth visit. The riding was excellent as ever. Saw so much game, the highlight being a big male leopard which was just magical”. (Karen, UK).

“The horses are amazing. I cannot think of a single thing to improve. It was absolutely incredible”. (Noga, Israel).

“A fantastic team on site, felt like part of a family or of a group of old friends. Knowledgeable guides with a passion for their country, all this in a very special bit of paradise – loved it !” (Amelie, France).

In other news…

You may already have heard about 23 year old Khwai’s retirement. He has been a firm favourite throughout his working life at Macatoo and many of you will have some wonderful memories of cantering across the Delta on this lovely boy. Khwai is off to Maun for a relaxing retirement. Happy retirement Kwai!

Mod taking Khwai out to the paddock

Mod taking Khwai out to the paddock

Recently Macatoo has gone green with the addition of solar panels. Camp is now operating completely on solar power.

Macatoo goes green! We are now operating completely on solar power!

Showing off the new solar panels

Earlier this month Macatoo was blessed with some much-needed rainfall. Now the bush is looking lovely, with bright green grass and foliage.

Just look at that atmospheric sky!

Just look at that atmospheric sky!

Down at Hippo Lagoon this little one was spotted recently, making a balance-beam out of a fallen tree.

Adventurous cub at Hippo Lagoon

Adventurous cub at Hippo Lagoon

There have been some amazing sightings from the scenic helicopter flights. Why not plan one during your stay to see the Delta with a bird’s eye view?

Hippo pod from above

Hippo pod from above

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Check out this video from In The Saddle guest Kim Simkins: Cantering at Macatoo

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, riding botswana, Riding Holidays, Riding Macatoo, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Christina from the Azores

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December is sure to be an event to remember, with riding guides and owners from all over the world. This article is written by Christina de Laval, owner of Quinta da Terca in the Azores.

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1. How long have you been guiding at Quinta da Terca?

14 years.

2. Where did you guide before this?

In my younger years I was a guide on tourist coaches going all over Europe with Swedish tourists. As a riding guide I have also worked in Stockholm and the middle part of Sweden.

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

Many years ago I went on a riding trip to Poland and the guide for the weekend was very knowledgeable about almost everything and also lots of fun, so this episode helped to inspire me to become a guide.

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

No plan B.

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?

It is the ideal job – meeting people from all corners of the world with the same interests – horses and nature. Showing the beauty of Sao Miguel from horseback. The downside is sometimes you want to teach guests more during their stay and a week passes very fast.

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

Nikita, who if she were human would be a top model. She has a perfect body, great movements, is very feminine and has a lot of confidence.

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

A mobile phone.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

I was riding on the south crater rim of Sete Cidades with a German princess (74 years old) enjoying the spectacular view and taking lots of pictures. When I turn around to take another photo of my guest I see a loose bull standing in the middle of the road about 50 metres from us. My heart stopped! I calmly ask my guest to stop her horse and please be so kind and hold the reins of my horse so I could get the cattle away from the road. With the help of a long bamboo stick and some heifers in pasture close by, I managed to get Mr. Bull interested in the heifers and could close him in on the field with the “girls”!! The rest of the ride went perfect without any more exciting incidents.

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

A shower and a good book.

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

You need to be a good rider who loves the outdoors, have an outgoing personality, be adaptable, flexible and reliable, have leadership skills, be energetic, cooperative and have interpersonal skills.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

I go to Sweden to meet up with my family.

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Thank you Christina for another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Christina from the Azores 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, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Susan Wirth from Turkey

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 by Susan from Akhal-Teke Horse Center in Turkey.

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1. How long have you been guiding in Turkey?

6 years

2. Where did you guide and ride before this?

I grew up in southern Africa where I learned how to ride on retired race horses and polo ponies. We had a lot of wild places at our disposal and as children we would spend all our spare time exploring the bushveldt on horse-back. Even though I later bought a horse in the US and decided I needed to learn how to ride ‘properly’ I was always happiest thinking about where I could actually go on a horse.

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

I had gotten away from riding as I was living in New York city and working in the publishing field. Occasionally in a fit of nostalgia, I would rent a horse and ride in Central Park but the ‘fire cracker’ went off again when I took a 6 month sabbatical and did my first multi-day trek with David and Robyn Foot on the Nyika Plateau in Malawi.

After that I was hooked and started to ride all over the world from India to all over South America, Europe and Africa until I eventually found my way to Turkey and met Ercihan Dilari, the owner of the riding outfit. We became firm friends and as we rode, talked of riding Akhal Teke horses from Turkmenistan to Turkey. It was a crazy dream but I realized that we were both a bit obsessed with long distance horse travel. We stayed friends over the years and I would return to ride and got to know his family and the outfit quite well. It was however in 2009 when we rode the Evliya Celebi Way that we really came together as a couple and I started helping him with the rides. It has been an incredible journey.

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

I have always been involved in photo journalism and photography in general so I also work as a photo editor for a news magazine when I am not guiding. It is  fun being engaged in different activities, specially in the off-season.

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 think it is one of the most wonderful jobs, sharing one’s environment on horseback. I love the fact that I can meet people from all over the world  and that many of these contacts turn into friendships. I also love the bonds that are formed with our horses and with our staff as we embark on a journey together with our guests. It is an extraordinary and exhilarating experience and you don’t want to be doing anything else. The only real downside is that I can’t control the weather!

Riders along the Evliya Celebi Route in Turkey

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

My favorite horse is Juno, a small, unassuming Arabian/Anatolian mare who was a gift from Ercihan. We believe that she might have started life as a wild horse, living with a herd at the base of Mt. Erciyes, one of the volcanoes responsible for the Cappadocian landscape. Juno has a huge heart and has generously carried me over this often challenging landscape for several years now. A clever, tough and resourceful mountain horse. She is like that  ‘little engine that could…”.

Despite her daintiness and to the dismay of others, she has competed with me very successfully in endurance competitions and last year, she helped me fulfill my dream of riding 1,000 km from Cappadocia to Istanbul. I think that travelling with your horse over great distances creates the most extraordinary of bonds. You are adventuring together.

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

I can’t unfortunately live without my cell phone anymore. There are so many things to organize and ‘double-check’ as you go. It is annoying but necessary if you want a smooth
operation.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

There are of course so many stories but one memorable guest was an ‘Iron Woman’ finalist from America. She signed up for a camping trip ride and we had long days in the saddle. Every morning at dawn, before we had even stuck our noses out of our tents she was just returning from a 10km run. We would then ride about 35km and then after untacking our horses after an exhausting day, collapse with a cold beer. This lady would not be seen because she would head back to her tent to get into her exercise gear and proceed to scale the next highest mountain. We were in awe.

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

I like nothing more than going to the Turkish Baths in Ürgüp, one of the villages in the area. I would be happy to go every night and I always take guests with me. After a cleaning and a massage you feel like new. It is a fun way of connecting with guests away from the horses and the dinner table.

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

Make sure that as you train, that you also develop your interests beside the riding, and that you always remain curious and enjoy engaging with people. One of the finest young guides I met once was a young man who could share so much about the history and culture of his country. It was enthralling. Be fascinated yourself and this will make the whole experience so much more meaningful for you and for your guests.  Also don’t be frightened about living in remote places and be content living a disciplined and simple life. It is not for the faint-hearted.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

I am really addicted to travelling on horseback so I always find an interesting new places to ride in, usually very much off the beaten-track. As a guide I also find it really helpful to see how other outfits manage their treks and also see things from a guest’s perspective.  I hope that it has made me more sensitive to the needs and concerns of our guests.

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

You can meet Susan from Turkey 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 Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Ingeborg from Namibia

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 by a talented and popular guide who is well know for her love of Arabian horses – Ingeborg from Okapuka in Namibia.

0821.How long have you been guiding at Okapuka?

I’ve been guiding since 2000 when my ex-partner and I set up the riding safari operation at Okapuka.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I used to be an HR manager before I decided that Namibia would be my home. I started riding when I was a youngster. My first pony was a white Shetland mare, called Walda who was most probably not bigger 11hh; later I had a chestnut gelding, a New Forest pony called (believe it or not), Quicky! During my riding years in the Netherlands I saw one of my competitors in the dressage ring riding a white purebred Arabian and I was completely in awe. That’s how my fascination and love for the breed started and I promised myself one day that one day, one day I would be the owner of such a magnificent creature. I stopped riding when I turned 18 and only started again just before coming to Namibia on a holiday (not a riding holiday), not knowing riding would become my profession. When we started the horse safaris there was doubt that the Arabian horse would become our partner. In a way I’m still an HR manager, but now it’s Horse Resource Manager.

Almost in tears

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

When my ex-partner and I set up the company there was no question in my mind that I would do the guiding as well. It wasn’t a person, but the country inspired me; wide open spaces, abundance of wildlife, 360 days of sunshine and the smell of the earth after the first rain (if Chanel, Dior, or whoever could put that smell in a bottle I would be the biggest user). I love horses, especially purebred Arabians, horse riding and what better way to do that than in Africa.

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

I would either have stayed an HR Manager or just mucked out stables, I guess. I have never thought about it. I don’t think there ever was a 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?

What is it there not love about the job? Being outside, enjoying beautiful scenery, having gorgeous Arabian horses around me and seeing smiles on the faces of my guests. The downside? Well I could say there is none, but then I would be telling a lie. The most horrible thing is to have to say goodbye to a much-loved horse. That is something I cannot and do not want to get used to.

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

I have a few favourites, but the one who always makes my heart beat faster is my Monster as I affectionately call him. His official name is ‘Nabilah the Makers Masterpiece’, a straight Egyptian Arabian grey gelding who is turning 20 in December. He has a wicked sense of humour, is a drinker of the wind and I trust him with my life. If he would be human, most probably he would be my husband!

Masterpiece & Ingeborg

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

When guiding I couldn’t do without a good lead horse. In general it’s difficult for me to live without sunshine, white wine, my horses, dog and cats and my family – and not in this particular order.

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

My most memorable endurance ride was the competition where my guests and I all came first in our different weight categories and distances, and won some Best Conditioned Horse Awards. My most embarrassing competition was where I fell off my horse in front of my guest rider and ended up in hospital. Thank goodness, the guest rider continued and finished the ride!

Jacoza on Dune 7

Finding my most memorable safari week or ride is very difficult; there have been so many memorable riders and rides, and situations. My most memorable rider is a Belgian lady, saying that even though she loved the place, horses and rides she would not return as there were so many more beautiful riding places that she were on her bucket list. But then she came back every single year, once or twice until the year she passed away. My most memorable ride was earlier this year when taking guest riders on their first ride and meeting 2 male leopards having a springbok breakfast, followed by a rhino sighting, followed by being enclosed by giraffe, followed by ….. I had to explain to them that this was exceptional and to please don’t expect this every single day! My most memorable situation was when we were having a good canter and suddenly 2 rhino came thundering out of the thickets deciding to join us for a short while; our tempo increased slightly and so did our adrenaline level!!

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

I sit on my stoop with a good book, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc being greeted by Doggos, my dog and being surrounded by purring cats.

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

Look, listen and learn, be aware of your surroundings, horses and guests and the interaction between those 3.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

To Europe to visit family.

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

You can meet Ingeborg from Okapuka 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 Holidays, riding holidays namibia, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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 – Diogo from Monte Velho

Read here about Diogo Lima Mayer, manager of the wonderful Monte Velho in Portugal. You can meet Diogo, Francisco, Mariana and Gonçalo from Monte Velho at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been taking riding guests at Monte Velho? How did it all begin?

The ‘Monte Velho’ Stud Farm was established in 1994, when my parents bought the property in an unpredictable move. My father’s passion for horses came after a medical prescription, following a stress diagnosis caused by overworking. At that time, he bought his first horse named ‘Embaixador’ and started having riding lessons in Quinta do Pombal in Sintra, very close to our family home. Things got more serious when he joined two friends and bought the first mares in the Alter Real auction in 1992, which are still the pillars of our stud-farm.

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Since I was a child, I remember coming almost every weekend to Monte Velho with our family, where my enthusiasm for our breeding and genetics has born. Our property was exclusively dedicated to the family and the Lusitano breeding until 2013, when we’ve decided it was time to share our treasure with other people. Almost all riding infrastructures were already built to support the stud-farm, so with the construction of the rooms we were ready to start the project.

2. What has been your biggest achievement to date? This could be in riding, or anything related to Monte Velho.

The Monte Velho’s horses have won several national and international awards, both in Dressage contests and also model/gaits shows. I would perhaps highlight the 4 Champion of Champions awards that we have won, with three of our horses, in the most important Lusitano horse Competition – The International Festival of the Lusitano Horse.

Queizosa MVL

Queixosa MVL won the Festival in 2000 and 2005, Vexada MVL won in 2007 and Dihamante MVL in 2011. Queixosa MVL is still the best scoring mare within the Lusitano breed among more than 5000 mares spread worldwide. For the future we aim to have a MVL horse competing in the Olympic Games. We’re working consistently on that direction, and within our young squad of competition horses there is a lot of talent!

3.    How did you get in to riding? Was there someone who inspired you?

My father was the one who has sowed the seed and the passion for horses in me, since I was 7 years old. I have always been the riding travelling companion of my dad, and his fellow on the equestrian activities in Monte Velho. He’s still without any doubt my biggest inspiration.

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4.    If you hadn’t become involved in equestrian tourism, what was your Plan B? Or perhaps you have another job too?

Prior to join the Monte Velho Equo-Resort project, I had a managerial career with L’Oréal Paris, where I was a brand manager in DPGP – Mass Market. My marketing and managerial experience background has been very helpful in my new experience as Hotel Director.

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?

This is absolutely true. Actually this job has surpassed all my initial expectations, working with nice people, good horses in a beautiful place, you can’t get any better. But it can also be extremely stressful some days, guaranteeing that every day all our guests have their horses in impeccable condition and prepared in time, it’s always a challenge!

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

My favorite horse in Monte Velho is called GIRALDO MVL (Rubi AR x Vexada MVL). Giraldo is a 4 year-old stallion with the best genetics we can possibly find within the Lusitano breed. His father competed in the London Olympic Games 2012 (placed 14th in the Final) and his mother was a Champion of Champions with 86 points.

Giraldo

I call Giraldo the ‘Mustang’ because of all his power, his daring character that makes no one indifferent. I believe he can be The One. If he was a human? Perhaps he would be Mohammad Ali. Let’s hope that Giraldo can win as much as Ali did!

7.    What can you not live without (when hosting, riding or just generally)?

My mobile phone! Managing a team of 12 people and knowing we have daily changes to our schedules and some unforeseen events, means your phone rings almost every minute. Much of my job is co-ordinating my team duties and activities, and assuring that our guest comments are processed in-time to everyone, to change whatever is necessary.

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8.    What has been your most memorable ride or time at Monte Velho?

I’ve had many memorable rides in Monte Velho, but I think the most memorable one was during last week. The group was composed of very experienced riders used to hacking with a lot of speed in their countries. I asked the group if they wanted a long canter. The answer was yes, and I had the same feeling of skiing from the top of the mountain down to village! It was a 15 minute canter, where we passed by three different properties, with moments of collected canter and faster canter as well. The 5 horses were always together, and it was rewarding to her one of them saying to me it has been the best hacking of his life.

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

A long hot shower is the best you can get after a busy day! At least for me!

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

I think managing an equestrian tourism business requires a set of different skills, from Business, Economics, Hotel Management, leadership and obviously Equestrian experience. I think my equestrian background gained from my childhood has helped a lot in this experience, but I would say the relationship and the experience we provide to our guests is the most important at the end of the day. The advice would be to have a consistent preparation, as this job requires a set of multi-task management and strong relationship insights to provide unique moments to the riders.

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I spend all the year thinking about my skiing vacations! I’m fortunate to travel to a ski resort in Switzerland every year, normally in February.

Thank you Diogo for an insight into life at Monte Velho. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Diogo, Francisco, Mariana and Gonçalo from Monte Velho 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: Dressage, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal, The Riding Holiday Show | 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.

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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

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