Hors­ing around the Wild Coast

Getaway (South Africa) - - INBOX -

When the sun rose at 5.30am over the serene hills of Cintsa, throw­ing its first rays into my bed­room at Ne­whamp­shire horse farm, and Ben Bax­ter was pound­ing his hooves im­pa­tiently against the empty feed­ing trough, a busy day be­gan for the Dick­er­son fam­ily and their vol­un­teers. Af­ter a quick shower and throw­ing on my rid­ing gear, it was over to the main house for a cup of de­li­cious cof­fee.

There are many choices of horse-rid­ing hol­i­days along the Eastern Cape coast, but none is as ex­hil­a­rat­ing as the four-week ‘work‘ va­ca­tion at Ne­whamp­shire Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Centre.

I’m a Ger­man in my 70s and I love horses but I hadn’t rid­den for six years. I wasn’t look­ing for a posh rid­ing hol­i­day at a five-star lodge

– I wanted to prove that I was still fit enough to en­joy horse-farm work.

From morn­ing to even­ing the Dick­er­sons and their vol­un­teers care for up to 50 horses. Here’s what you have to do: feed­ing, clean­ing, wash­ing, spray­ing an­t­i­tick agent, treat­ing wounds, bridling and sad­dling, guid­ing and ac­com­pa­ny­ing beach rides. The work also in­volves main­tain­ing all the gear (head col­lars, bri­dles, har­nesses, English sad­dles, trail sad­dles), haul­ing 40-kilo­gram feed bags and putting 25-litre water drums on the bakkie.

This is no busi­ness for wimps or spoilt pony princesses. Three weeks of vol­un­teer­ing at Ne­whamp­shire con­firmed it.

I was still fit!

The ab­so­lute high­lights were the trails through the beau­ti­ful land­scape; walk­ing or trot­ting over the rolling green hills down to the beach at Cintsa Bay and gal­lop­ing across miles of sandy beaches. I sure took a ride on the Wild Coast!

– Siegfried Runge, Tan­za­nia

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