Meet the stars of the show at Ant’s Nest situated in the Waterberg area of South Africa, the perfect place for a family-friendly horse safari.
The Ant Collection offers a family-friendly horseback safari unique to South Africa. The herd of over 90 horses live a blissful life on a private game reserve amongst the wildlife. The Ants Reserve has a large variety of wildlife, including some rare antelope species, giraffe, zebra, buffalo and rhino. As the horses are seen as part of normal daily life by the other animals, riders can get closer to the game than probably anywhere else in Africa. Plus after an amazing afternoon ride, there is something truly special about untacking your horse and letting them wander off back into the bush with the curious giraffe gawking at them and the zebra welcoming them into the herd.
They have a variety of horses, from their trusted Fresians, resilient Arab/boerperd crosses great for endurance, fast and agile Thoroughbreds, fun and reliable Apoloosas, and the smaller speedy native Boerperds and Boerperd crossed as well as a variety of children’s ponies. All the horses are fit, reliable and responsive, providing a choice for both the professional rider and the absolute beginner. (You do not need to have ridden before). Each ride is led by two competent guides. The enthusiastic rider may wish to ride twice daily and turn their stay into a luxury riding safari. Families or couples, where some ride and others don’t, can enjoy separate activities. Basic lessons for non-riders are available and many guests learn to ride and gain confidence here.
Bayete used to be known as Northern Conqueror in his race days; winning a total of 9 races. He was brought by a Dutch international event rider to for eventing but was too much of a handful for competing. He came to Ant’s about 5 years ago and loves his life in the bush! Bayete has settled down immensely in the wilderness, but his racing streak still shows when the signal for galloping is given! He’s a charmer with the ladies and can most often be found snuggling with Amboseli, after ditching his older mare Tala. Although he’s big and strong, he still hasn’t learnt to trust the rhinos in the reserve, much to the disdain of the other horses.
🐴 Name: Bayete
🐴 Height: 16,2hh
🐴 Breed: Thoroughbred
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Colour: Dark Bay
🐴 Personality: Strong-minded but straight forward if you know how to handle him
🐴 Quirk: He has amazing power and endurance, he won many races by keeping all his energy for the last sprint and hasn’t lost that urge to win!
🐴 Suitable for: A very confident rider with a light hand.
🐴 Best trait: He’s fast and strong
🐴 Worst Trait: Still a little scared of the rhinos after 5 years!
Kilimanjaro, or Kili as more fondly known is always high on the request list. Not only is he absolutely gorgeous to look at, he’s a great ride. Kili is loved by every guest who has ridden him to the point that guests will have to negotiate about who rides him should they have been to Ant Africa together before. In his previous life he was a dressage horse and loved showing off in the arena. His owners were immigrating and looking for a new home for him. While there were other offers for him, the life of adventure in the bushveld was way more appealing than being a show horse. The previous owners were sold on the fact he was going to be part of a herd with all the freedom in the world! He often hangs out with Mozambique, one of the grey Arabs but has just become best friends with Phinda. He can be quite territorial and being a big boy, will let the other horses know if they are invading his little gang’s space.
🐴 Name: Kilimanjaro
🐴 Height: 16.2hh
🐴 Breed: Appaloosa
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Colour: Leopard Spot Appaloosa
🐴 Personality: Strong-willed yet ready to please his rider
🐴 Quirk: He doesn’t like to be alone and loves the company of mares
🐴 Suitable for: Intermediate to advanced rider
🐴 Best trait: Sweet-natured, will do anything you ask and is an attention seeker – must be why everyone falls for him
🐴 Worst Trait: Can be stubborn
Chilly has been on the reserve so long no one can remember where she came from! She is a sparky little mare with a huge personality! Although she can be bossy with the other horses, she is super patient with kids and has taught hundreds of children the joys of cantering. She knows her job well and is great at following the lead horse, so kids are in safe hands. They say that dynamite comes in small packages, and she proves it. She puts her ears back for almost every other horse, except Chobe. He is her one and only, a beautiful 16hh Friesian gelding and they are inseparable. They make a cute couple, but if he goes out without her, she will jump over any gate or fence in her way to get to him!
🐴 Name: Chilly
🐴 Height: 14hh
🐴 Breed: Unknown
🐴 Gender: Mare
🐴 Colour: Chestnut going grey
🐴 Personality: Bossy, it doesn’t matter that she’s small, she has a huge personality. She will tell you when she’s cross!
🐴 Quirk: She can jump over gates from a standstill
🐴 Suitable for: Perfect kids’ pony
🐴 Best trait: Brilliant all-rounder pony and safe for kids
🐴 Worst Trait: Squeals when you put kids on her bareback for swimming
One of the originals, he was bought from a local farmer and was part of the first horses which came to Ants Hill when it opened in 2003 and has been with them ever since. He is a great all-rounder, can be used as a lead or back up horse, but is happiest with the little ones. He’s a teacher and confidence builder of new riders, children and/or riders who have had bad experiences before. He is an old soul and very sensitive to his riders and will act accordingly when he knows someone is having difficulties. But he can also judge when someone is confident enough to ride him faster and loves a good canter! He has a very loving nature and is very sociable and is happy to hang out with anyone friendly.
🐴 Name: Tomahawk
🐴 Height: 14.3hh
🐴 Breed: Boerperd
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Colour: Paint – Skewbald
🐴 Personality: He’s really sensitive and a patient teacher
🐴 Quirk: Takes care of his riders and has a heart of gold
🐴 Suitable for: Beginner & children but all-around good ride
🐴 Best trait: Brilliant all-rounder pony and safe for kids
🐴 Worst Trait: Is a baby-sitter for children and other sick/injured horses, he is definitely an old soul and easy to fall in love with.
A few more favourites
Why Ant’s Nest is perfect for children
This is one of our favourite family-focused horse safari destinations. We believe a horse-riding holiday should be a family vacation that can be enjoyed by children, parents, grandparents and anyone else who wants to join in! Give your children a life-changing experience on safari in South Africa. With a selection of wonderful ponies suitable to both the novice and experienced child rider, they can have the chance to head out on horseback. Beginners can be led by a competent guide and riding lessons are also available. Children under 4 can be led on a pony in and around the lodge area.
Each day is tailor-made and there are plenty of activities for kids. On guided bush walks they can learn about tracks, investigate bugs and experience the scale of the bushveld. Children are welcome on game drives and for when they are not out exploring, there is archery, fishing, swimming and snake handling to occupy their free time. Special food and mealtimes can be arranged or alternatively families can dine together.
How the horses get used to wildlife
The first 2-4 weeks the horses are slowly introduced into the herd in the stables and then taken for relaxed exercise rides with other older reliable horses where they can slowly get used to the game. After this time, they are let out into the bush with the whole herd where they can get used to the wildlife with protection and knowledge of the herd to teach them. The horses live out with the wildlife and therefore become habituated very quickly, this is also why the game are very relaxed with the horses because they see them and graze among them on a daily basis.
What makes a great safari horse?
A good temperament is all you need. Some take more time to adjust than others but with their regular routine and the fact they live out and in a natural herd together really makes them settle into the perfect trail horses.
A day in the life of a safari horse in the Ants Reserve
Each guide has 5-6 horses that he/she personally cares for. All horses come in twice a day, they are fed, temperatures taken, groomed and de-ticked. Those on a ride are tacked up and taken out and the others are let out as a herd. This is done all over again in the afternoon. They try to keep all of the horses in regular work, and have a full-time horse trainer at each lodge who works on any bad habits they may have picked up and the fitness of those coming back into work from illness and injuries. When they are quieter the guides will take horses on exercise rides to keep their fitness up. At the end of each ride the horses are untacked and let off into the bush. It doesn’t matter where in the reserve they are untacked they will always make it back to the stables in time for their dinner.
Horse Care at Ant’s Nest
- The horses live out year-round in a herd, allowing them to live naturally alongside all the other animals on the reserve including the Rhino and Buffalo.
- They are bought in twice a day to be feed, checked, groomed and temperatures taken by our devoted guides. Our thoroughbreds and older horses get extra special carein the winter and are kept in at night, rugged, and given extra food.
- The horses all get a physio and dentist visit at least once a year. The farrier comes every 6 weeks to shoe and check the horse which are barefoot (they try to keep as many horses as possible barefoot).
- Saddles are specially designed for trails which mean they are comfortable for the horse, distributing the riders’ weight evenly, preventing any back issues. Our tack is checked and cleaned regularly to ensure it is kept to the best possible standards.
- A careful record is kept of how much work each horse does to ensure they have rest days and are not overworked.
- There is a dedicated onsite horse trainer who is continually keeping our horses in tip-top shape.