Kraaibosch Horse Riding
Horse riding in Africa was one of my childhood dreams. I used to buy horse rider's magazines and read articles about great adventures in Africa and riding through nature. Now here I am, and I finally went horse riding. There is a stable right by the forest in the Outeniqua mountains where my little childhood dream was transformed into a memory. It's the Kraaibosch Equestrian Centre and I went on an outride along with the manager of the information centre in Sedgefield. We drove out towards the forest from Sedgefield; it's always amazing to see how five minutes after turning off the N2 you are out in the wild driving through nature. The centre is in the most beautiful setting, surrounded by pine forest and large fields with grazing horses.
There were two horses already saddled and waiting for us, and the owner of the centre, Michele Jacobs, was warming up hers. Michele is a very successful rider, she's a qualified riding instructor and a professional show jumper both in the province and internationally.
Everyone was really friendly - I had forgotten my camera in Sedgefield and was pretty upset about it, but I was given a good camera to take on the outride. As an amateur photographer I appreciate the act (I do not think I would lend my camera out that easily!). I hadn't been on a horse's back in a while so I was pretty excited, but the horses were all well-behaved and I relaxed almost immediately. As we got on and rode out of the centre into the forest I recalled the countless hours I had spent on the back of a horse in Europe. Shortly after setting out into the forest I had a little difficulty with my horse, which somehow didn't want to walk forward. Michele calmly rode back to me and gave me advice, and when that didn't work she even offered to switch horses and let me ride hers. I did switch horses, but with the third horse of the party, which was by nature very steady and calm. There were no problems with the horses after that, and I felt safe and in good hands throughout the whole experience.
The Garden Route is a very beautiful place to ride, and although it was drizzling, I really enjoyed it. When travelling, horse rides into nature are one of my favourite things to do. In spite of the fact that you don't take any time to get to know the horse that carries you, it is always a different way of seeing your surroundings in contrast to all tourist activities. The mood was very conversational and loose. I was relaxed, the horses are clearly very good horses(alert and responsive) and we changed between trotting and walking loosely and had a good conversation all along.
As my horse walked along at its own relaxed pace I thought I should really get back into horse riding. The Kraaibosch centre offers a lot of different activities, apart from the outrides they also give lessons for all ages and levels of experience. There are about 15 horses and ponies on the pastures around the stables, and it is even possible to lease a horse – on half lease, meaning that you can ride it three times a week at a time that suits you, or full lease to be able to ride any day, as if it were your own horse. During school holidays there are different kinds ofholiday camps for children, with games and activities that teach how to ride and maintain a horse. The centre offers an incredible amount of things to do, and I am thinking that I should really get my driver's license to pay the centre more frequent visits and profit from all these opportunities. Whether you are a traveller passing through or you live around here somewhere, the centre is a perfect place for horse lovers.
After the outride we sat and chatted over cups of tea. I had a great time and would do it again any day.