Whether you’re looking for the ideal family riding vacation or an introduction to safari life before heading out into the wilds of Botswana, these safari horses will make you fall in love with Africa.

Exploring the wonderful ranch where Horizon is based and the neighbouring reserves, makes for some superb riding, with big open plains filled with game such as zebra, giraffe, hippo, jackal, hartebeest, impala, kudu and baboon. There are over 100 horses on the reserve in the Waterberg area, and there is a partner for every level of rider including safe mounts for beginners and children (and some spicier options for those who like some spirit!)

With no set itinerary, your riding holiday is fully flexible, and you can enjoy some of the other riding activities Horizon has to offer. Ride through pristine wilderness and take your horses swimming in the dam, take part in some Western games, try your hand at Polocrosse – an extremely addictive game that combines both polo and lacrosse disciplines, or take some of the talented horses round the small cross country course.

Africa is waiting – saddle up for a tailormade family horse safari in South Africa or embark on a ride combining South Africa and Botswana

SPICE – IDEAL CHILDREN’S HORSE

Boy riding horse splashing in water

Spice has been with the Horizon family for around 15 years, but feels like forever! They got bought him from a friend in the Polocrosse world and thought he would make an excellent safari horse. He is possibly the best all-rounder they have and there is nothing he cannot do – jumping, polocrosse, Western games – there is no end to his talents. He is a great horse for beginners or nervous riders and will fly over jumps with them. He is a bit of a mischief-maker too and loves jumping in and out of his paddock. He’s a great follower, but not a great leader since he has a great imagination and spooks quickly – unless there’s a jump, then he’s fearless! Besides jumping, he loves long swims in the dam and he and his buddy Captain often have great fun splashing around in the water.

🐴 Name: Spice
🐴 Height: 15.1hh
🐴 Breed: Boerperd
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 22
🐴 Colour: Golden bay with stunning dorsal line
🐴 Personality: Super clever!
🐴 Quirk: Jumps anything!
🐴 Suitable for: Anyone, but looks after nervous riders
🐴 Best trait: He flies over jumps!
🐴 Worst Trait: Super sensitive ears and can be spooky

Bay pony jumping

HAWKEYE – A FAVOURITE FOR THE COMBO

Appoloosa horse cantering at sunset

This striking guy is a real sweetheart with a healthy dose of spunk! He is definitely an Instagram favourite with the perfect ears for “between the ears” shots and the perfect bum markings to make him stand out from the herd. He loves hanging out with his best buddy Radar and they complement each other in photos so well, he is white with black spots and she is black with a white Appy blanket bum.

Karien had the joy of riding him on her SA & Botswana Combo ride in January and would have packed him in her suitcase given the chance! If he had a choice, he would be leading all the canters! It takes a lot of coaxing to keep him behind the lead horse. He will then watch the lead guide’s signals intently from second place during the canters and as soon as there is a signal to slow down, Hawkeye likes to pick up the pace to ensure that he finishes the race in first place – Always a happy exuberant (and smug) flourish at the end!

🐴 Name: Hawkeye
🐴 Height: 16.1hh
🐴 Breed: Appaloosa
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 13(ish)
🐴 Colour: Leopard Appaloosa
🐴 Personality: Very forward going, honest, gentle and keen to please
🐴 Quirk: Happy to jump and looks gorgeous in any photo
🐴 Suitable for: Advanced / Experienced rider. African Explorer guests really love him and he has a lovely big comfortable stride
🐴 Best trait: He is a WONDERFUL model!
🐴 Worst Trait: Can get a wee bit excited!

Appaloosa safari horse

SERENGETI / TODDIE  – THE SEA HORSE

Grey horse cantering through water

Serengeti, or Toddie, as he is affectionately known, has been with the Horizon Family for about 13 years and was bred in Botswana. One of the highlights of a stay at Horizon is being able to swim in the dam on horseback, and Toddie is a real water baby! He loves nothing more than finding a stream to gallop through or dam to swim in and his ears prick up when he knows you’re riding in the right direction. He’s definitely more of a people-horse than a horse-horse and can get really grumpy with other horses. But he loves pretending to be a model, is super photogenic and will sing for his dinner.

🐴 Name: Serengeti
🐴 Height: 16.1hh
🐴 Breed: Boerperd
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 17
🐴 Colour: Palamino (or custard as they like to call them)
🐴 Personality: Very forward going, independent and bold
🐴 Quirk: Loves jumping, is a real water baby and sings for his supper.
🐴 Suitable for: Advanced Riders or Guide horse
🐴 Best trait: Loves swimming and playing in the water which always makes guests laugh
🐴 Worst Trait: Can be a bit grumpy with other horses

Grey horse with zebra at sunset

A FEW OTHER FAVOURITE TRAIL HORSES

Safari horses with giraffeSafari horses cantering in water

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR TRAIL HORSES?

They get our horses from all over and have built some great relationships over the years with contacts who know exactly what we are looking for. They very much have a type of horse in mind and evaluate horse’s size and conformation, personality and ability – all these things are important for a trail horse in Africa. Their wonderful farrier who travels all over the country has sourced many of the safari horses.

WHAT IS THE HERD’S ROUTINE?

Living out in huge open spaces allows the horses freedom to graze naturally, but they come in at least once a day for hard feed and to be checked over. It’s quite a sight to see a herd of 100 horses galloping towards the yard! The horses enjoy a good feed and brush, and the team treats any minor cuts or injuries. Horses going out on the morning ride get tacked up, ready to head out into the wilderness. After the morning ride, all the horses head back out into the veld where they live the closest life to a wild herd. The safari horses come back in for the afternoon ride and enjoy another hard meal before heading back out to join their herd.

Herd of safari horses and saddle roomHerd of safari horses

HOW DO YOU HABITUATE HORSES TO WILDLIFE?

Horses at Horizon live out in the reserve and will often see animals such as zebra, wildebeest and antelope while out in the veldt. At first there is often a fair bit of antics, with raised tails, snorting and a few good head-shakes. But as soon as the new horses see how relaxed the rest of the herd is, they soon calm down. New horses are taken out for a few rides in small groups, normally just with the staff and guides. The next step is to go out as a backup horse before an experienced guest gets to take him out for his first real safari ride. Horses take a lot less time to habituate to wildlife than you would imagine. By nature, horses will look to confident leadership so guiding calmly and confidently gives unseasoned horses assurance that the new experience is not a threat. They will also pick this up from other horses with them, so riding in a group of seasoned and confident horses helps to instill confidence.