If you follow us, you’ll know we all have a few things in common… We, love to travel, we have a great sense of adventure and love the thrill of wildlife encounters. But most of all, we’re here for the HORSES! 😍
We fall in love with them, don’t we? The bond you’ll form with your equine partner on safari really is extraordinary. What may start off on the first day with typical “blind date” niggles, quickly evolves into a fully-fledged romance as the two of you find your groove. Invariably… as the final day looms, you’ll dread having to say goodbye…
Let’s start off in BOTSWANA with our friends at MACATOO
The band of horses at Macatoo is 53 strong, all made up of geldings of various shapes and sizes. There are a variety of different breeds ranging from Namibian Warmbloods, Zimbabwean Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Friesians and Percheron crosses. There is also a strong contingent of the native Tswana breed. They all have different origins, mostly from around Maun, but also as far afield as South Africa and Namibia. Out in the bush, breed doesn’t matter as much as personality. The ideal safari horse has a level head, but with a fair bit of spark. They need to take everything they meet in their stride, but they are also your exit route from trouble, so must be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
So let’s meet our first horse: NXABEGA
This flashy grey is good looking, and boy does he know it! He is the self-appointed “head boy” of the herd and quickly puts anyone who steps out of line back in their place. He is a fun ride for a confident rider with soft hands who likes a bit of speed! He joined the Macatoo herd 9 years ago from a game farm in the Ghanzi area in Botswana, with other Arab cross favourites Apache & Xigera. Nxabega was a bit of a loner initially but has recently buddied up with Alpha and the two are often seen conspiring together in a corner of the paddock.
🐴 Name: Nxabega
🐴 Named after: one of the camps in the nearby concession
🐴 Height: 15.2hh
🐴 Breed: Kalahari Arab Cross
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age:12 (ish)
🐴 Colour: Grey
🐴 Personality: A little standoffish as he knows he’s a handsome fellow!
🐴 Best trait: He’s fun to ride – totally relaxed, but a firecracker when you want to go!
🐴 Worst Trait: He really does not like cuddles, typical of a Botswana horse! And he pretends not to like apples, but really does.
This one is for @Alison Beck – say hello to CHARLIE
This beautiful local guy is a happy-go-lucky chap. He hates being cooped up in the stable and prefers wandering around outside the barn looking for sausage fruit to munch on. In his previous life he was used on a local farm to round up cattle. Charlie is the resident sheepdog – This skill comes in handy if the herd “misses” the paddock and someone needs to jump on bareback with just a headcollar to bring them back! Charlie is a great addition to have in the herd: he is an adaptable ride; just as comfortable in front as a lead horse or taking a confident guest on an exciting trail through the bush. He is in his element taking guests on splashy canters in the Okavango Delta.
🐴 Name: Charlie
🐴 Height: 15.1hh
🐴 Breed: Tswana
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Colour: Grey
🐴 BFF: Brandberg is his usual partner in crime
🐴 Personality: Cheerful and adaptable
🐴 Best trait: Charlie is always game to go anywhere on a ride, is full of personality and can pose beautifully (when he doesn’t have a mouthful of sausage fruit!)
🐴 Worst Trait: Trying to keep him in a stable!!
Meet MURRAY – the leading man of the Okavango Delta
Not only is Murray a favourite lead horse among the guides of Macatoo but he’s an actual actor! In his previous life, Murray was a stunt horse on film sets – how glamourous! But our star Murray did not tolerate two-legged actors whose riding wasn’t up to his high standard, and he wasn’t shy letting them know. In 2013 Murray left the bright lights of South Africa behind to get lost in the wilderness in Botswana. Even his name has fame in its origin – this time of the sporting variety. Owner John promised to name the next horse “Murray” if Andy won Wimbledon 2013. And so it was! Just like Andy, dashing Murray has tonnes of X-Factor and is a favourite among the ladies. He is a strong solid leader with confidence and attitude to match.
🐴 Name: Murray
🐴 Height: 15.3hh
🐴 Breed: Fresian Cross
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Colour: Bay
🐴 BFF: Guinness another Fresian Cross and what a stunning pair they make when out in the bush
🐴 Personality: Knows he’s “The One”
🐴 Best trait: Murry is a great lead horse and is completely fearless
🐴 Worst Trait: Do NOT touch the top of his rump when getting on or off – you’ll be on the ground faster than you can blink!
OTHER FAVOURITE SAFARI HORSES
LIFE AS A SAFARI HORSE AT MACATOO
A normal day starts off with a morning feed and groom before being turned out into the large paddock or being tacked up for a morning ride. As the horses come in from their safari, they get a wash down and snack before joining the rest of the herd for an afternoon siesta. In the mid-afternoon, feeds are put into each stable and the herd comes in for the day – a spectacular sight as they come galloping in from the bush. All the horses are groomed and those that are being ridden are tacked up and ready for their next adventure. In the evenings, all the horses get freshly cut grass and a last good night snack before retiring for the night in their snug stables.
HORSE CARE AT MACATOO
- The string of 50 horses is as well looked after as our guests by the brilliant staff. Each horse is recognised and appreciated for his unique ability and personality and every effort is made to match him with the most suitable rider.
- Guests rotate between two or three horses during their days with us to ensure that each animal is given time to recover between rides.
- When the horses are not out on the rides they spend their days out in a paddock as a herd and are stabled at night to protect them from predators. One of the most popular spectacles at Macatoo is the sight of the resting horses galloping home from their mobile paddocks each afternoon.
- The horses are fed concentrates 3 times a day, and hay in the evenings while they are stabled.
- Each horse has his own bridle and saddles are checked regularly by staff to ensure their condition and fit for the horses.
- The farrier is flown in every 5 weeks to trim and where necessary shoe the horses as the old saying goes “No foot, no horse”.