It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Macatoo Camp - The Riding

The horses racing home for dinner after their daily
turn out on the gorgeous green grass of the plains.

The official blurb from the brochure:-

Our beautiful horses range in size from 14 to 17 hands.  There is a horse to suit everyone, with a choice of English or Trail saddles.  Riding with wild animals through sparkling floodplains makes this the ultimate African adventure.  Qualified guides share their knowledge of this wilderness, using the horses to bring you closer to nature.

And, again, it's all true!

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a brilliant rider - I’m a mid 40s re-rider who rides 2-3 times a week at a barn in Germany, having a mix of lessons and riding through the forest on well trained horses.  I’ve never had my own horse, and horses aren’t my career – they’re my hobby and what keeps me sane.  So if you’re reading the following, and horses are your life, you’re probably just going to say “Well, duh!” to my advice.  But, hey, read on …

If you can ride at speed across broken ground, staying balanced when your horse stumbles, slips, lurches, shies, jumps things you can’t see in the high grass, and still keep a smile on your face, this is the riding trip for you.  These horses are very well trained and sure footed, but you’re definitely not riding on flat, smooth paths.  You’re riding across, around and through sand, dirt, water, sticks, logs, aardvark holes, elephant diggings and warthog scratches.  It’s the best fun ever, but you’ve got to be able to stick it and keep smiling.

Be very honest with your assessment of your riding ability.  It doesn’t help anyone to say that you’re fabulous and comfortable at all paces, over all ground, and all obstacles, when the last time you rode was in your teens and you could do it then, but you’ve not ridden much since.

I was really clear and honest with my riding abilities, and Mod (the great Master of the Horse) matched me with horses that were perfect for me, and Sekongo (my fabulous guide) catered the pace to what I was comfortable with.  That said, I had a few “What on earth was I thinking!?!?!” moments as I hurtled through the bush.

If you're not quite as confident, or a bit of a re-rider like me, think about booking your Macatoo experience in the off season when there's less guests and the guides can pace things a bit slower for you.  Double bonus?  It's cheaper in the off season too!

The guides here know their horses and they know the country.  Your first ride is the 1.5 hour afternoon ride and they will know within about 10 minutes if you’ve been honest or not.  It’s NOT a case of being introduced to a horse in a ménage and being asked to trot and canter around to gauge your ability.  You’ve paid a lot of money and said you can ride well enough to be here, and it’s expected that you can.  Be truthful and you’ll be okay.

Official "experience level" blurb from In The Saddle for this ride:-

Confident and in control on a forward going horse at a fast canter in the open over rough and variable ground.  There are likely to be long stretches of fast riding and/or you will be riding in areas with potentially dangerous game.

Stay tuned for the horses ...

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