The Wild Coast. What Had I Got Myself Into…
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, or what African Horse Safaris had got me into, as I stepped off the plane at Durban airport. Various emails had been back and forth with Baz and Joe, founders of Rocket Horse Racing and the hosts of the first ever Race the Wild Coast. However, whilst there was extensive and detailed information available about the race itself, the race crewing and riding experience, remained very much shrouded in mystery. Yet, having met Joe and Baz, and knowing their love for all things fun, exciting (and always a little bit mental), I had minimal hesitation in signing up.
On day one we pulled into camp, set up on the banks of a beautiful river, leading out to the rugged and remote east coastline of South Africa.
Our crew riding team was a diverse mix… featuring many Poms, a couple of Aussies, the odd Swede and of course a few South Africans. As we sat round the fire on night one, laughing at our now seemingly reckless decision to throw ourselves into the Rocket Horse Racing trial run…
I knew this was going to be an adventure…
And my goodness was it.
The next 10 days was one of the most exciting, terrifying, brilliant riding experiences I’ve ever had through African Horse Safaris. We were tasked with getting 45 endurance horses completely desensitised to the sea, sand and waves, get them going out alone and refresh their memories on how to swim across rivers!
Initially, swimming the horses was equally terrifying as it was thrilling. However, once you get into the swing of it and your trusted stead sets off into a rhythm, there’s no greater feeling and true appreciation of how powerful horses can be.
The exists were often the most tricky as the horses legs would hit the ground first! It took us a while to master that!
The scenery was simply stunning. During several of the solo rides, as I cantered up over the brow of a hill and was hit by a panoramic view of the pristine coastline, I couldn’t keep the smile of contentment spreading across my face.
All the best experiences have some trying moments.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows – the 10 days certainly tested us. We had several days of heavy rain, which when you’re camping can be somewhat unhelpful (to put it mildly!), but the crew powered through. The Poms’ ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude was infectious and nobody stopped smiling, and as we concluded – all the best experiences have some trying moments.
The race itself was also a challenge – and not just for the riders! Many early mornings, long drives, constructing and de-constructing tents, time-keeping…the list goes on. Yet, the sense of camaraderie was brilliant. Seeing Rocket Horse Racing’s inspiring and ambitious plans unfold, as a result of the work you were doing, was extremely rewarding. It was a wonderful way to view some of the spectacular coastline, watching dolphin off-shore, whilst waiting for the leading riders to come over the horizon.
Looking for something…
If you are looking for a horse riding experience that’s a bit different, will push and challenge you, grants the opportunity to meet lots of like-minded fun people, takes you through a beautiful part of South Africa, and allows you to be a part of something truly great and exciting – then I would certainly recommend crewing at the Rocket Horse Race – Race the Wild Coast 2017.
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The video will tell it better than any words can…