SOUTH AFRICA EQUESTRIAN ESCAPE
Based at Shikondo Game Farm, in Mpumulanga, South Africa, this working riding holiday gives equestrian enthusiasts the opportunity to live life, for a few weeks, behind the scenes of a horse-riding establishment in South Africa.
Take part on out rides on the farm as a back-up rider, care for the herd of fourteen trail horses, get up close and personal with wildlife, and make some everlasting memories!
Develop your riding skills, discover South Africa, and witness some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife on earth.
Volunteer caring for highly trained trail horses, in return for plenty of riding and some wildlife viewing!
Discover a different world and way of life, and really get to one with nature.
Stay on a 2000 hectare reserve, home to giraffe, zebra, warthog, wildebeest, several species of antelope, and Tswale the tame elephant.
The farm offers endless beauty, with a mixture of open plains, hills, rocky koppies, rivers and mountains.
The herd of fourteen horses live out on the farm and need continued attention and care.
Volunteers become part of the family, and establish deep bonds with each of the horses.
Volunteers make incredible memories; from cantering across the plains, climbing hills to get the best views, falling in love with the horses, to riding alongside giraffe and zebra!
Riders must be over 18 years old, and experienced riders.
SHIKONDO GAME FARM
You will be volunteering with ‘The Horse Safari Company’, owned by Tamlyn Whitebread. The Horse Safari Company moved to Shikondo Game Farm in March 2023. The farm is 2000 hectares/4950 acres, and hosts a variety of species of wildlife.
Tamlyn and her team are busy getting the wildlife on the farm habituated to both people and horses viewing them. Conserving the wildlife on the farm is now the aim, as well as re-introducing tourism to the area.
In South Africa a smaller reserve is referred to as a game farm. Many people panic when they hear this term, as they think this means that animals are being raised for hunting, but this is not always the case. This is a generalised term used by South Africans for any property with larger wildlife species on it, otherwise referred to as ‘game’. We would like to assure you that hunting no longer takes place on the property.
Tamlyn currently takes nature out-rides on the farm with paying clients, which she will ask you to help with. Between these rides, part of the volunteer’s role at the moment is riding alongside Tamlyn, to discover all areas of the farm, plan new routes for out-rides, discover the wildlife that lives there, and re-habituate them. This makes for some great adventures! Although the Horse Safari Company knows what species are on the reserve, they are busy doing game counts to figure out how many of each.
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!
Shikondo 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.
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 will be helping to care for clients on the nature out rides on the farm. As you will be representing the horse safari company 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.
You will be working alongside experienced trail guides. You may also be expected to work as part of the ground team when rides are fully booked with clients.
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.
You will need to have a warm demeanor, chat to clients, and have good manners.
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! But you may need to poo-pick camps that the horses sometimes sleep in, check the fence-lines around the reserve on horseback, and any veterinary care the horses may be receiving.
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 client bookings.
Every day is different, and usually contains some kind of adventure!
Volunteer accommodation is at a basic but beautiful bush camp, next to the stables and paddocks.
Staying in the bush camp means you can at times hear the wildlife around you at night.
The area is fenced off and secure, and you are perfectly safe. You may spot wildlife passing by in daylight hours.
Rooms are usually shared with one or two other volunteers.
You will have access to a kitchen where you will be expected to do your own cooking and food preparation.
You will be taken on a weekly shopping trip in to town to buy groceries and other supplies.