🐴 Name: Muchacho
🐴 Height: 15.3hh
🐴 Breed: Quarter Horse x Arab
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: about 6
🐴 Colour: Dapple Grey
🐴 Personality: Calm and relaxed
🐴 Quirk: Can be as timid as a mouse or as brave as a lion depending on the rider
🐴 Suitable for: Confident but gentle rider
🐴 Best trait: Has a way of making everyone fall in love with him
🐴 Worst Trait: can be hesitant at times
Elizabeth was bred to herd cattle and started her life roaming the vast farmlands as a semi-wild horse. Living out as a herd and rarely seeing people, she came became a trail horse in 2015 and found her calling. Many of the horses in Namibia are related and it is thought that Sundown and Four-socks might be half-siblings, but it is difficult to tell as they were free-roaming and hardly seen by humans for about 6 years. Liz was part of the herd when Karien rode in Namibia, she was loose most of the way and enjoyed causing havoc on every gallop – relishing in cutting up the other horses and riders! You would see her grey shape motoring towards you out of the corner of your eye, waiting for her to slice in front of you, only just leaving enough room. So much so, shouting ‘Elizabeth MOVEEEE’ is still one of their inside jokes. Needless to say Liz would often then be punished by having her loose-horse freedom taken away and getting put back on the lead reign by Andrew! Last year while on the trail, she ate something poisonous and the team was just able to pull her through – trucking her from camp to camp. She has traded her safari life for retirement back out on the farm where she has the cutest rider imaginable who is as light as a feather and loves grooming her. Baladine, her sweetheart has joined her for a pampered life on the farm, happily together as these two are inseparable. As the new safari horses come into the herd, these to deserve a life of luxury.
🐴 Name: Elizabeth (Liz)
🐴 Height: 15hh
🐴 Breed: Pure Namibian Farm Horse
🐴 Gender: Mare
🐴 Age: about 9
🐴 Colour: Dapple grey, but becoming lighter with age
🐴 Personality: Does not like people, very difficult to catch this little madam
🐴 Quirk: Very dependable + co-operative riding horse, yet not crazy about people.
🐴 Suitable for: everyone, dependable to a T
🐴 Best trait: Enjoyed being on trail
🐴 Worst Trait: Weak back and caused chaos on trial as a loose horse
Jim was acquired from the monthly farmers market at the Showgrounds in Windhoek. Andrew went to get a pancake and came back with a horse! Jim wasn’t ideally suited to his job giving pony rides at the market because he didn’t like kids and demonstrated this by biting them. He had a brief chat to the owner who was mildly distressed and promptly swapped Jim for one of his more suitable safari retirees (win win!) Jim certainly has strong views on many things in life. The first time he was made a loose horse on safari, he promptly ran away. As to not have a repeat performance, he now has to be led when not under saddle, most often by his buddy Cantura. Jim however leads the leader now… at his pace! Besides his quirks, Jim is surefooted, brave and confident. He is very good at forging a way through impenetrable, lion infested reeds.
His registered name is Arc de Cour, and he is from a very aristocratic Warmblood line…. his sire the well known Belgian Warmblood De La Coure. Arc de Cour was sold into the show jumping world in South Africa but his antics got him the nickname: “Widow-maker”. No one could stay on the bronco. So back he came to his home (Seeis stud)…for ‘fixing’. It so happened he arrived home just as the 2019 Wild Horses Safari was going out – so along he came for the ride. Renamed Larry, Andrew decided the only way to help him would be to put him in a safari string – it has helped many a horse before. So off Larry went with 18 other horses on our truck (at 16,2 he could only just fit) – down to Wolwedans in the southern Namib, a long and dusty journey. Larry seemed somewhat bemused to find himself in a desert – standing on the picket line, looking around and no doubt wondering how he got here, and what this ‘here’ was. But he did what the other horses did and seemed to be ok. From day 1 (as a loose horse at first) Larry seemed to think this was a good way to spend a day – moving from place to place, being given a large quantity of food several times a day, being groomed and occasionally being ridden. It is a testament to Andrew’s horsemanship and the companionship of being part of “doing a job” that he has now become Andrew’s favourite lead horse. (The late great Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance said this was the most important way to help a horse – give him a job.
A FEW OTHER FAVOURITES
HOW THE SAFARI HORSES ARE CARED FOR
Between safaris, the horses stay relatively ﬁt by living out in thousands of hectare of natural bush. During the good times, the whole 100-strong herd lives together, but during droughts they are split into groups of 20 and sent to farms where there is still grass. The herds form natural social bonds and because they are more comfortable within these familiar groups, they go on safari together too. They do a 10-night safari every six weeks or so between April and late October remaining ﬁt between safaris by walking huge distances from grazing to water every day. All the horses spend the four/ﬁve months of our Namibian summer out in the bush roaming free.
While on safari horses are continually fed – even at night and are groomed three times a day. Backs, legs, feet etc. are regularly checked and each horse has a mini-vetting at the end of the day to ensure they are ﬁt for work the next day. Because injuries do occur, and young horses need more rest than experienced campaigners, we have several spare horses on safari which can be rotated. This is a tense time for those guests who, having fallen in love with their horse, wait in anticipation of their mount being given the green light to work the next day.
WHAT TACK THEY USE
They use simple snaffle bridles or bit-less bridles where possible and each horse has its allotted bridle and specially designed saddle for the duration of the safari, which are cleaned daily. The Namibian team is lucky to have an expert saddle-maker on hand who has designed the new safari saddles specifically for the purpose. They spread the rider’s weight evenly over a wide area yet leave the shoulder free to move naturally. Stirrups have been placed specifically to allow riders to stand and so ease the horses’ backs at regular intervals. Water panniers have been moved to the back of the saddle to not restrict the riders’ knees. Wool and Mohair girths allow for maximum comfort and numnahs are a combination of pure wool pads and specially folded blankets. There are all hand-washed without the use of chemical soap after each safari.
AFRICA IS CALLING – WILL YOU BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO CROSS THE DESERT?