The Tuli Horse Safari has become one of our firm favourites. This epic horseback journey has brilliant game viewing, varied and exciting scenery. After the week, you’re bound to have fallen in love with your horse (but due to luggage restrictions, won’t be able to take him home!)

This ‘Land of Giants’, well known for its baobab studded plains and large herds of elephant, is situated in some truly wild landscapes largely untouched by man. The area is home to a variety of wildlife species including lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, a multitude of plains game like zebra, wildebeest and giraffe, as well as over 350 species of birds.  On this horse riding safari, you get to see all of these from horseback – just the way safari was meant to be! This epic journey, with its brilliant game viewing opportunities, varied and exciting scenery, wonderful accommodation, fabulous sunrises and sunsets, and of course exceptional riding, covers approximately 120 miles over the course of the week and can be scheduled any time of the year. While you need to be an experienced rider to enjoy this adventure, friends or partners can join in the fun on a bicycle!

HIDALGO – THE POSTER BOY FOR THE TULI

paint horse jumping log

Hildalgo is definitely Mr Photogenic and has recently become the poster boy for the Tuli. Not only has he taken countless guests out on safari, but this celebrity was the horse of choice for Matt Harnacke. Most people recognize this gorgeous paint in our Instagram stories and pictures of last year when Matt and Jesse joined Isabel for an exciting ride in the Tuli, and their first-ever safari!

Hildalgo loves when the signal is given for a good fast canter. One of Matt’s goals for Africa was to gallop with zebras and we’re not sure whether Matt or Hildalgo loved it more! He is bright and bold and is always out in front, just behind the lead horse (but only just!) Not just a pretty face, he’s also an incredibly comfortable ride and one of our guests, Natalie, described riding him as “flying on a cloud” As with many horses in the Tuli, he also loves jumping over fallen logs and is very scopey. He’s a big softy and loves a good snuggle after a day in the saddle and will always check your pockets for treats.

🐴 Name: Hildalgo
🐴 Height: 16hh
🐴 Breed: Sport Horse Cross
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 13
🐴 Colour: Paint
🐴 Personality: Bold and brave, loves to jump
🐴 Quirk: Looking good in photos!
🐴 Suitable for: An experienced rider who enjoys a forward going but responsive horse
🐴 Best trait: Hidalgo is brave in front, making him an independent ride, and loves to jump.
🐴 Worst Trait: He can get quite excited in fast canters, and does not like being overtaken, which means he is ideal up front just behind the guide.

paint safari horse with elephant

MEET MONATE – BEST JUMPER

two horses cantering

Monate is a favourite of both the guides and guests alike – He’s even been ridden by a few equestrian celebs! He might not be as flashy as his some of his friends but put a jump in front of him and his true colours come out. He arrived at Mashatu in September 2011, as a 4-year-old, having just been gelded. It took him a little while to remember that he was no longer a stallion! But he soon settled into safari-life and, by the time he saw his first elephant in March 2012, he was really chilled, proving how confident and calm he was even as a youngster. He absolutely loves jumping and throws his heart and soul over the natural bush obstacles scattered around the reserve.

Horse care is really important at Horizon and each horse’s needs are taken into consideration. Monate hates having his ears touched, but for good reason. He has Sarcoids in his ears which don’t bother him as long as his ears aren’t touched. As a result, Thomas made him a specially adapted bridle, allowing the grooms to take it apart to fit and remove it, so as to avoid having to touch his ears at all.

🐴 Name: Monate
🐴 Height: 15.3hh
🐴 Breed: Boerperd / Saddler Cross
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 14
🐴 Colour: Bright bay with a white star and snip
🐴 Personality: Confident and proud
🐴 Quirk: He will jump just about anything he is aimed at!
🐴 Suitable for: Experienced riders, particularly event riders or showjumpers that want to do some jumping on their safari.
🐴 Best trait: Monate absolutely LOVES to jump! He has a super comfy canter and is a very responsive ride.
🐴 Worst Trait: You can’t touch his super cute ears 

bay horse jumping over log

MEET OTIS – PERFECT SPOTTY BUM!

Who doesn’t love an Appaloosa? Otis has made so many dreams come true, both in South Africa and in the Tuli. Otis was Isabel’s first ride in the Tuli and she fell head over heels in love with his quirky character and spotty bum. He is forward going and loves nothing more than flying across the dry sandy rivers, although his mortal enemy is anyone that tries to overtake him! He loves hanging out with Hitari, Art (funny how the spotties stick together!) Valient and Skeeter when out in the paddocks between rides. His special skill is spotting the bigger game, and he has pointed out lions to the guides on a number of occasions when no one else has seen them.

🐴 Name: Otis
🐴 Height: 15.3hh
🐴 Breed: Appaloosa
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 10/11
🐴 Colour: Leopard Spot Appaloosa
🐴 Personality: Forward going, fun ride with great stamina.
🐴 Quirk: Great at spotting lions!
🐴 Suitable for: A strong intermediate to advanced riders who enjoys a forward going horse.
🐴 Best trait: Otis is forward going and has a great, comfortable canter.
🐴 Worst Trait: Can be a bit hot

appaloosa safari horse

THUNDER – THE ELEPHANT DETECTOR

black horse galloping

Thunder arrived in October 2015 and initially, he was very defensive, had zero confidence, and didn’t seem to trust humans.  After a few join up sessions, lots of love and personal attention, he has become an affectionate horse who loves a good cuddle and is very in tune with his rider. He is more of a one-person horse, and is generally Lindy’s lead horse but has started bonding with Mpho and will soon become his lead guide horse. He has become incredible at detecting elephants, long before anyone else knows they are there.

🐴 Name: Thunder
🐴 Height: 15.3hh
🐴 Breed: Vlam / Arab / Boerperd cross
🐴 Gender: Gelding
🐴 Age: 14
🐴 Colour: Dark Bay
🐴 Personality: Proud, affectionate, willing and trusting
🐴 Quirk: Can sense elephant from miles away!
🐴 Suitable for: Experienced riders only, is Lindy’s lead  horse and is training to be Mpho’s lead guide horse
🐴 Best trait: Most amazing, rolling canter
🐴 Worst Trait: Doesn’t like to wait around

black horses on safari

A FEW OTHER FAVOURITE SAFARI HORSES

horses cantering through watersafari horses jumping logssafari horses galloping and jumping logs

HOW DO THEY KEEP SAFARI HORSES FIT

After returning from a safari, the horses are given a few days off before going back into light work – lunging, schooling, hacking out or popping over our cross country course, to keep them fine-tuned and ready for the next safari.

ROUTINE OF A SAFARI HORSE

Each morning the horses are brought in for an early morning feed before grooming and tacking up. The morning ride usually leaves camp at about 6:30AM in the winter and 6AM in the summer – this is the coolest time of day and best time to see animals as they wake up with the world.  After the ride, horses are checked over, hosed down and turned out in paddocks with full hay nets.  Lunch is served at about 2PM. On the days that they do an afternoon ride, horses are again groomed and tacked up at 3:30 PM for their afternoon ride.  These usually last about two hours before returning to the camp for a good rub down during dinner and a full hay net to chomp through for the night.

safari horse caresafari horse care

HOW DO YOU TRAIN NEW SAFARI HORSES?

New horses are given a few days to acclimatize to their new environment. Once they seem settled, they are schooled then hacked out with other horses that have been here for years and are habituated to the wildlife. Riding with confident horses gives the new arrivals a good experience for the first few hacks.  If there are elephants in the area, it is a good opportunity to take the newbies out to meet them in a controlled ride with other brave horses that aren’t phased by the these gentle giants.  Good first experiences are very important!

The stable manager allocates each new horse to a team member, matching them with personalities and riding ability. They do all the groundwork with the horses to develop a relationship before they even get to ride them.  That team member will then work with the horse exclusively to further build confidence in the partnership.  They will then go out on their first few safaris together until the horse seems settles on safari – always in a small group with calm and experienced horses.  With a few safaris under their belts, they will eventually to out to experienced guests. In general, it takes less time than you might think as the horses learn from the rest of the herd, and when they realize the other horses are grazing contently with giraffe and elephants nearby, they follow suit.