RIDERS GONE WILD
Based in Limpopo, South Africa, this working riding holiday gives equestrian enthusiasts the opportunity to volunteer with horses and explore a 3500-hectare conservancy.
Volunteer caring for highly trained trail horses, in return for riding. Discover the joys of South Africa from between the ears of a horse, with some beautiful encounters with wildlife on the reserve.
Wildlife on the reserve includes giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, leopard, hyena, kudu, impala and nyala. You may even come across the odd lion or elephant that pay a visit every now and then. As the reserve is completely surrounded by the Kruger National Park, you are almost guaranteed to be lulled to sleep most nights by the roar of a lion, or the laugh of a hyena.
The herd of highly trained trail horses need continued attention and care. Volunteers become part of the family, and establish deep bonds with each of the horses.
Eat. Sleep. Ride. Repeat.
The idea of this equestrian escape, is to allow riders to experience a riding holiday in South Africa, at a much reduced rate. With full riding safaris costing in the range of £2000-£4400 per week, this opportunity just isn't affordable for everyone.
Volunteers pay just £400 per week, to cover their accommodation, food, and conservation fees within the reserve, and receive the rest of their trip free of charge, in return for helping out with the horses between rides.
Work is not strenuous, as the horses live out, so there is no mucking out. Expect to spend 2-4 hours a day working with the horses, including feeding twice daily, grooming, tacking up, untacking, and hosing down the horses after rides. The safari establishment is already fully staffed, so volunteers act as an extra pair of hands, providing the horses with even more love, care and attention.
Volunteers spend between 2- 6 hours per day in the saddle, assisting as back up riders on trail rides with paying guests, checking fence lines and the conservancy perimeter, and also just for fun, exploring the reserve and encountering wildlife!
We believe that life is best viewed from between the ears of a horse, and this work exchange programme is a great way to explore the wonders of South Africa, and it's wildlife. Whether you want a unique holiday, are taking a gap year, need a career break, or just want to get back in touch with horses, this trip has a little something for every equestrian addict.
Riders must be over 18 years old, and experienced riders.
If you are interested in going on a full riding safari holiday, without the volunteering element, visit our sister website- wildinsidehorsesafaris.com.
You will be volunteering with ‘Wild Ride Safaris’, owned by Lin
Pearson. Lin has over forty years’ experience with horses and wildlife, and has spent many years running commercial riding safaris, game reserves and lodges in South Africa and Botswana. She has a passion for natural horsemanship, which is the basis of most of her training methods, and loves to pass on her knowledge of the bush.
During your stay you will be based at Guernsey Private Game Reserve. The surrounding conservancy is around 3500 hectares (8650 acres), and is teeming with wildlife. Wildlife species that you may see includes giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, and many different species of antelope such as impala, kudu and nyala to name but a few.
You will also have chance to see lions and elephants on horseback, but this may be from the other side of the fence for safety reasons.
Lin currently takes safari trail rides out on the reserve with paying clients, which she will ask you to help with. You will act as an extra pair of eyes, both for spotting wildlife, and making sure that the other riders are okay.
As the animals are wild, we cannot guarantee what you will see and when. You may come back from a ride having seen lots, or you may not see anything. This is all part of the fun in finding them!
The conservancy is not a Big Five reserve, so we do advise to not arrive expecting to see every single species of wildlife. The idea is to give riders the taste of what riding safaris are like, at a much-reduced rate, and allow riders to immerse themselves in the African way of life and nature.
Visits to Kruger National Park nearby can be arranged to fill in the gaps of species that are not on the property (at the volunteers own cost on days off).
The conservation team on the reserve also do regular fence and perimeter checks on horseback, which volunteers also join in on, (the more pairs of eyes the better)!
Expect to ride for around 2-6 hours per day during your stay.
Due to the fact that you will be riding in open areas, and in the bush, this experience is only for strong intermediate to advanced riders. You must be in balance and in full control at all times in all four paces, and able to handle a variety of different horses.
You may be asked to help with clients on the trail rides on the reserve. As you will be representing Wild Ride safaris you will be expected to follow a few simple rules when you are interacting with clients, and in general on a daily basis.
- Always be friendly, polite and professional to all clients, co-volunteers and staff.
- Dressing appropriately and smartly around clients.
Work is not strenuous as the horses live out (no mucking out), and mostly consists of feeding twice a day. grooming, tacking up, untacking, and hosing down horses after the ride.
The ides is to get a mini riding holiday, at a fraction of the cost, in return for some help with the horses in between rides.
Activities are listed below:
Assisting with Rides You will be required to assist on rides out on the farm, acting as 'back-up' rider, and keeping clients safe and happy. You will act as an extra pair of eyes, making sure all riders are comfortable and safe. You may also be required to hold horses when the ride takes a break. Assisting with out-rides gives you great opportunities to encounter wildlife and explore! You will also assist with greeting riders, and helping them mount.
Grooming + Tacking Up
Daily grooming of the horses before and after rides. This is a great way to form a bond with the horses in the herd. As part of the daily grooming, you will check the horses over for any sores or wounds, and help with keeping them in top condition. In South Africa, horses also need to be regularly 'dipped' to prevent tick infestations, and the nasty diseases they can carry. You will also need to help tack up for rides, and untack at the end of the day.
Important for keeping the horses happy and healthy, volunteers assist with cleaning tack after rides, and checking tack over for wear and tear.
The horses all live out, so there is no mucking out or strenuous hard work! But you will be involved with feeding, grooming, and filling hay nets for the horses, when necessary, as well as cleaning water troughs.
May include chatting to clients on rides. You will need to have a warm demeanor, and be friendly to clients.
As the riding establishment in South Africa is family run, your assistance and help is greatly valued.
There is no 'set day', as the structure of the day varies depending on guest bookings.
Every day is different, and usually contains some kind of adventure!
Volunteer accommodation is at a comfortable lodge on the reserve. Staying on the reserve means you can often hear the calls of wildlife around you at night! The area is secure and safe, due to patrolling anti-poaching teams, and you may spot wildlife passing by in daylight hours, while enjoying a coffee outside.
You will have access to a kitchen where you will be expected to make you own breakfast and lunch from the food provided. Dinner is cooked for you, and is usually a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal.
Vegetarians, vegans, and other dietary requirements can be catered for.