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A Horse Safari May Be the Best Way to Get Up Close to Africa’s Wildlife

Do you dream of galloping over endless savannas with herds of zebra and giraffe? Have you always imagined yourself riding alongside the giant tuskers in East Africa or getting nose to nose with a rhino? A horse safari may be the best way to explore incredible landscapes and get up close to Africa’s wildlife.

Many of our horse-riding holidays give you the chance to see animals on horseback. But this selection of horse safaris focuses on areas that offer some of the most incredible wildlife sightings known to man. On a horse safari, you go from being a spectator to an active part of the landscape and nature. On horseback, riders can get off-the-beaten-track, following trails made by the herds of elephant into wilderness areas that very few humans have seen. Riding through areas inaccessible to vehicles allows some exciting and intimate wildlife sightings, whether it is your first or hundredth safari experience.

There are few things more adrenaline-inducing than cantering over the grass plains, only to be joined by a herd of zebra who have decided to take up the pace! You never forget your first elephant encounter on horseback. There is something indescribably thrilling about creeping up towards a herd of elephants, with only the soft tread of your horse’s hooves interrupting your appreciation. It is a privilege to be in their presence, watching them feed and interact. It is amusing, and a little disconcerting, when you find your horse is more interested in grabbing a few mouthfuls of grass, than in the gentle giants in front of him. And many riders become mesmerized by the sight of a tower of giraffe in the tall thorn trees. Your heart slows as you get to watch their incredibly long tongues dart through the leaves and their bright eyes gawk down at you. Being on horseback is a truly unique way to view wildlife!

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For More Info About our Wildlife Focused Horse Safaris

Wildlife Focused Horse Riding Tours

6 nights: From USD $7995GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Luxury Masai Mara Safari with Gordie Church

  • 6 / 8 Nights
  • Kenya
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Embark on a remarkable glamping adventure through the iconic Masai Mara with the legendary Gordie Church.
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Ride accross teh river at Sosian Lodge Kenya

3 nights: From USD $2340GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

HORSE RIDING HOLIDAY AT SOSIAN

  • 3 - 7 Nights
  • Kenya
  • Wildlife Focused Horse Safari
Experience thrilling horse safaris and adventure activities at Sosian Lodge – exploring Kenya's wild beauty.
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6 nights: From USD $6685GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Borana & Lewa Luxury Trail Ride – Kenya

  • 6 / 7 Nights
  • Kenya
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
An extraordinary journey with equestrian adventure, luxury accommodation and breathtaking landscapes.
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7 Nights: From USD $GBP £EUR €ZAR R32832AUD $ pp sharing

Moolmanshoek Horse Safari

  • 7 Nights
  • South Africa
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Discover horse and wildlife heaven, with over 200 horses in one of the most scenic spots in South Africa.
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Horse Riding

7 nights: From USD $GBP £EUR €1880ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Kambaku Wildlife Reserve in Namibia

  • 3 - 7 Nights
  • Namibia
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Enjoy wonderful wildlife rides, scenic game drives, tranquil siestas, and dining under the stars at Kambaku
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Horse riding at Cha Cha Metsi in the Okanvango Delta

7 Nights: From USD $6300GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Cha Cha Metsi Explorer – Okavango Horse Safari

  • 7 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Combine the luxury of a permanent lodge with the adventure of a mobile safari, for an unforgettable adventure.
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Horse safari at Cha Cha Metsi

3 Nights: From USD $2085GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Cha Cha Metsi – Okavango Delta Horse Safari

  • 3-10 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Embark on an unforgettable horse safari at Cha Cha Metsi, where the Okavango Delta unveils its wild wonders in style.
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7 Nights: From USD $GBP £1881EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Horizon Lodge Signature Horse Safari

  • 7 Nights
  • South Africa
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Explore the beauty of the Waterberg region alongside unique wildlife. This is the ideal trail riding horse safari.
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A close elephant encounter on a horseback safari

3 nights: From USD $3750GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Horse Riding Holiday at Lewa Wilderness

  • 3 - 10 Nights
  • Kenya
  • Wildlife Focused Horse Safari
Immerse youself in this very special part of Kenya, where luxury, adventure and conservation are intertwined.
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Horse riding with elephant in Zimbabwe

7 nights: From USD $4165GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Horse Safari in the heart of Hwange

  • 7 Nights
  • Zimbabwe
  • Wildlife Focused Horse Safari
An exciting horse safari in one of Zimbabwe\'s premier wildlife reserves, off the beaten track and into wild Africa!
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Safari horses cantering in Serengeti

8 nights: From USD $6560GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Serengeti Migration Horse Safari

  • 8 nights
  • Tanzania
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
A true “Out of Africa” experience where you'll ride the endless plains of the Serengeti alongside herds of wildebeest.
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Horse riding in the Mashatu Tuli Botswana

5 nights: From USD $GBP £1240EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Horizon Lodge Riding Holiday

  • 5 - 10 Nights
  • South Africa
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Immerse yourself in the beauty of South Africa's diverse landscapes, where every day reveals a new adventure.
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Horse riding holiday in Zamiba

3 nights: From USD $1650GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Zambian Horse Safari in Simalaha & Victoria Falls

  • 3 / 5 / 7 Nights
  • Zambia
  • Scenery & Wildlife Focused Safari
Embark on a breathtaking journey through the untamed landscapes of Zambia and visit the mighty Victoria Falls.
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Horse riding in the Simalaha Conservancy, Zambia

8 nights: From USD $4035GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Zambian Odyssey Horse Safari

  • 8 - 11 Nights
  • Zambia
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Discover Zambias most incredible safari destinations by horseback, boat, foot and vehicle on this adventure holiday.
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3 nights: From USD $3915GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Luxury Horse Safari at Ol Donyo Lodge

  • 3 - 10 Nights
  • Kenya
  • Wildlife Focused Safari
Discover the wonders of riding in the Chyllu Hills, a fusion of wildlife and luxury in the heart of Kenya.
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Horse riding at Kujwana with Okavango Horse Safaris

5 nights: From USD $GBP £3500EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Kujwana Camp – Okavango Delta Horse Safari

  • 3 - 10 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Experience the original Okavango Delta Horse Safari with two exclusive camps and endless wildlife possibilities.
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Horse riding in the Tuli

7 nights: From USD $GBP £2117EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

South Africa & Botswana African Explorer

  • 7 Nights
  • South Africa & Botswana
  • Wildlife Focused Horse Safari
Seamlessly blending South Africa and Botswana\'s incredible landscapes into a single, unforgettable horse safari.
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10 nights: From USD $8025GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Botswana & Victoria Falls Combination Safari

  • 8 - 12 Nights
  • Botswana & Victoria Falls
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Where the wonders of the wild and awe-inspiring beauty of Victoria Falls come together to create a tailor-made journey.
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Cha Cha Metsi Buffalos

8 nights: From USD $7465GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Desert & Delta Horse Safari – Ultimate Botswana

  • 8 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
The ultimate Botswana horse safari combining two unique landscapes - the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert.
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Horse riding on the Wild Coast of South Africa

12 nights: From USD $GBP £5360EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Wildlife & Waves – Tuli & Wild Coast Trail

  • 12 / 16 Nights
  • South Africa & Botswana
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
For intrepid travellers, this adventure combines riding on untouched beaches and incredible wildlife from the saddle.
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Cycle by Wildebeest on Botswana safari

7 nights: From USD $GBP £2226EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Tuli Horse Safari & Cycle Trail – Botswana

  • 7 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife Focused Horse & Cycle Safari
For non-riding partners, discover the perfect fusion of equestrian adventure and cycling thrills in the Tuli.
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Horse Riding in the Okavango Delta

7 nights: From USD $4955GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Mobile Fly Camping – Okavango Delta Horse Safari

  • 7 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife Focused Horse Safari
Set off on an environmentally conscious journey to explore the untouched splendor of the Okavango Delta on horseback.
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3 Nights: From USD $3690GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Ride

  • 3 - 5 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Embark on an otherworldly adventure as you canter across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans alongside unique desert wildlife.
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Horse riding with elephants in Arusha National Park

7 nights: USD $5590GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Arusha & Mt Kilimanjaro Horse Safari

  • 7 Nights
  • Tanzania
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
A journey that will take you through dense forests, to hidden lakes and end with epic canters in the shadows of Mt Meru.
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Horses splashing in river

3 nights: From USD $2268GBP £EUR €ZAR RAUD $ pp sharing

Adventure riding holiday in Victoria Falls

  • 3 / 4 Nights
  • Zimbabwe
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Follow in the footsteps of the great David Livingstone and ride along the gorge that feeds the mighty Victoria Falls.
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Riding with Zebra in the Okavango Delta

Game viewing on horseback

The guides are extremely knowledgeable with well-trained eyes, but often they will take their cues from their horses. Game viewing on horseback gives riders an advantage as the horses will often sense wildlife before their riders, giving away their presence with pricked ears. Most of the horses live out and are completely habituated to wildlife. Likewise, the wildlife often does not see horse riders as a threat, so riders can have very intimate experiences, even with large animals such as elephant and rhino. Plains game such as zebra, wildebeest and antelope accept horses into their herd and will peacefully graze with riders just a few meters away. Giraffe, elephant and buffalo often pay little notice to horse riders, and you can watch them in fascination while the animals contentedly graze or bathe. Rhinos are often extremely curious about the horses, allowing some unforgettable close encounters.

Simon Horse Guide in Masai Mara
Horse riders watching lion in the Masai Mara

Safety on a horseback safari

While there is always some risk when out on safari, the guests’ safety is paramount, and all our operators have an excellent safety record. The risk is kept exceptionally low with expert guides and exceptional horses. For any rides where you might come across big game, we only take intermediate plus riders and up – meaning they have been riding for many years and are well-balanced in the saddle. Our safari operators have been riding in these areas for many years and know the land like the back of their hands. The guides are highly trained, most of them with at least 10 years of horse safari guiding experience before becoming a head guide. Their bush experience, teamed with incredible lead horses, means they are experts at reading animals’ body language and negotiating the wilderness. They know when to move away and when to stand their ground when it comes to larger animals.

Riders can come across predators while out riding but they very rarely pose a threat to the horses. Horses are large and fairly unnatural prey for big cats, plus they have odd-smelling humans on them. When big cats are spotted, riders come together as a group. The cats usually get intimidated or get bored and wander off to find a nearby tree to snooze under. Guides also carry a bullwhip, this makes a sound like a gunshot when it is cracked and scares off anything too inquisitive.

Elephants in front of Tented camp in the Okavango Delta

Accommodation on your horse safari

Most horse safaris can be classed as either lodge-based or trail-based rides. The benefit of lodge-based horse riding holidays is that they offer brilliant horse riding and a variety of other wildlife activities such as game drives and nature walks. This means that they offer a great safari experience for riders and non-riders alike. Trail-based horse safaris are for the more adventurous and experienced horse riders, covering more ground and offering a true wilderness experience. Many of these rides offer varied accommodations along the route, from treetop sleepouts to more permanent tented camps. Others offer mobile camping in remote wilderness areas or sleeping out on stretchers under the stars.

There are very few places on earth where you’ll see more wildlife than humans. Whether you opt for the more experiential based trail rides or the more luxury lodge-based rides, you have the rarity of being in places very few people get to experience. These are purposely built with horse enthusiasts in mind, catering for small, intimate groups of like-minded travellers. Based in private concessions or reserves, they have unique rights to be able to explore the wilderness on horseback, guided walks, and safari vehicles.

Cheetahs from horseback in the Masai Mara
Okavango Delta
horse riding with rhino

Famous places to see wildlife on horseback

East Africa is vastly different to Southern Africa, with seemingly endless savannahs creating an Eden for wildlife. Far from civilization, the sense of space and freedom is overwhelming. In Northern Tanzania, head out on a horseback safari, riding alongside towers of giraffe in the shadows of Mt Kilimanjaro. For the intrepid riders, take on the vast Serengeti on horseback, galloping across this beautiful wilderness area, and possibly witnessing the great migration on horseback. The horseback safaris in Kenya are operated in the most game-rich wilderness locations on the continent, in some of the largest unfenced expanses in Africa. These areas offer great diversity in wildlife species, birdlife and scenery. Horse riding in the Masai Mara is a journey-of-a-lifetime, taking in the wonders of the African bush and all its wildlife, from towering giraffe and enormous elephant, to millions of wildebeest during the annual migration. Ol Donyo and Borana Lodge take you through incredible scenic areas, and offer brilliant game viewing from horseback, including riding with some of the largest tuskers known to man.

South Africa offers some fantastic horse riding with scenic landscapes, endless beaches, and many private game reserves rich with wildlife. Some of these reserves have large numbers of plains game such as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and antelope which means that children and less experienced riders can get their first experience of a horseback safari. Other reserves close to the Kruger National Park are home to the Big 5 and offers some exciting wildlife sightings on horseback such as rhino, elephant, buffalo and even lion.

Historically the Okavango Delta has been the main area for horseback safaris in Botswana. Known as the river that never reaches the sea, the immense inland delta is perfect for exhilarating splashy canters alongside the wildlife. It is one of Africa’s unique treasures and is one of the most important and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries on the continent. The Tuli Block is known for its dramatic landscapes, huge baobabs, and large herds of elephants. Riding along the ancient elephant trails offers some great game viewing from horseback. The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is home to a variety of desert adapted wildlife. In summer months, the pans fill up with water attract the second largest migration of zebra and wildebeest. And in the dry winter months, the open salt pans create the perfect natural racetrack for adrenaline inducing gallops.

Zimbabwe is remerging as an incredible wildlife safari destination with some fabulous rides available. Follow in the footsteps of David Livingston and explore the great Zambezi area on horseback, or venture deep into the heart of Hwange National Park. Hwange is famous for its large herds of elephants, vast open vleis and stunning birdlife – Just a short hop from Victoria Falls, a week here is perfectly combined with a few nights visiting the great waterfall.

Wild dogs from game drive in the Okavango Delta

Wildlife out of the saddle

When not exploring on horseback, you can head out for informative and exciting game drives. These are perfect for epic wildlife photography and for late evening excursions to see the more elusive nocturnal animals. You can also join your guide on foot to hone your tracking skills and see the lives of the smaller creatures and unique flora. Some safari destinations offer unique wildlife viewing such as paddling down the “Venice of Africa” in the Okavango Delta, Hot Air Balloon flights over the Masai Mara or quad biking in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Not to mention the tradition of sundowner drinks, always taken in the most scenic spot – nothing quite beats sipping that well deserve gin and tonic as you watch the sky turn pink and gold.

FAQs

What kind of horses are used for safaris?

There is a variety of horses used for safaris, from trusted Fresians, resilient Arab crosses, fast and agile Thoroughbreds, fun Apoloosas, speedy Boerperds as well as a few reliable children’s ponies. More important than breed is personality, and all horses and ponies are brilliantly suited to being in the bush. Living at close quarters with wild animals, all the horses are familiar with being amongst big game, have great endurance and are evenly tempered.

How experienced do you need to be for a horse safari?

Whether you have been horse riding since you could walk, or are new to the sport, there are many brilliant options for all levels and even some perfect family horse riding holidays. For less experienced riders we recommend safaris in areas giving a more laidback introduction to horse safari, riding with giraffe, zebra and many antelope species. For the more advanced riders, there are some fast-paced rides over varied terrain that makes for some thrilling time in the saddle. When riding in areas where you may encounter big game such as lion, elephant and buffaloes, you will need to be well balanced in the saddle and able to react to all eventualities, even galloping out of trouble if required.

Is riding with wildlife safe?

Safety is a top priority, and experienced guides and well-trained horses ensure a secure and enjoyable experience.  The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and can read the body language of the wildlife, knowing when they can approach, and when to move away. The horses used for these safaris are typically selected and trained for their calm and steady temperament. They are accustomed to the presence of wildlife and are less likely to become spooked or agitated.

Can non-riding partners go on a horse safari?

Yes! Most lodge-based horseback vacations can easily cater for families, couples, or groups of friends. Even on some of our trail rides, non-riding guests can head off on safari in an open vehicle while riders saddle up. Sometimes even riding guests like to have a break from the saddle and join the non-riders for other exciting safari activities.

Can I go on a wildlife horse safari with children?

For younger children, we recommend riding in areas that only have plains game such as giraffe, zebra and antelope. Many children fall even more in love with horse riding when they experience the thrill of seeing wildlife from the back of their favourite safari horse. For experienced child riders above 12 years old, they may be allowed to ride in areas with big game, but we will need to be sure of their riding ability beforehand.

Which horse safari is the best to see rhino?

The family-friendly Ants Reserve and our Big 5 Horse Safari in South Africa offer great opportunities to see rhinos from horseback. The animals have a unique relationship as most of the horses have seen the rhinos since they were foals. They are often very curious about each other and riders can get fairly close for incredible encounters. In Kenya, the Laikipia area is well-known for its amazing rhino conservation story, and riding at Borana and Lewa Wilderness offer incredible rhino sightings from horseback.  You can also head out on foot with the anti-poaching unit.

Where can I go horse riding with giraffe?

Seeing giraffes from horseback can be a truly unique and memorable experience. They are often very curious of the horses, which means that horse riders can approach them quite closely. Riders of all ages and riding levels can experience the magic of seeing these gentle giants from the saddle at Horizon Lodge and the Ants Reserve in South Africa. In the Okavango Delta, you might have a few joining in on an morning canter. In Kenya, seeing a journey of giraffe from horseback is an unforgettable sight. And around Arusha in Tanzania, you’ll often have larger herds that welcome riders into their midst.

Where can I see elephants from horseback?

Seeing elephants from horseback for the first time is sure to get your heart racing! In Botswana, you’ll be able to see these gentle giants on our horse safaris in the Tuli, Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. In Zimbabwe, you’ll find huge herds in both Hwange and around Victoria Falls. In Tanzania, ride alongside the tuskers with Mt Meru as your backdrop. And in Kenya, you’ll have incredible riding alongside elephants in both Laikipia and the Masai Mara.

Can I go horse riding with zebra?

Horse riding with zebra is an unforgettable safari experience.  As the horses and wildlife live so closely together, the horses are often accepted as part of the herd, allowing riders a glimpse of life in the wild. Often, when cantering out on trail, the herds of curious zebra will join in the fun, offering some thrilling riding!

What if we see lions while our horse riding?

Riders can come across predators while out riding but they very rarely pose a threat to the horses. Horses are large and fairly unnatural prey for big cats, plus they have odd-smelling humans on them. When big cats are spotted, riders come together as a group. The cats usually get intimidated or get bored and wander off to find a nearby tree to snooze under. Guides also carry a bullwhip, this makes a sound like a gunshot when it is cracked and scares off anything too inquisitive.

Is a horse safari eco-friendly?

Responsible operators minimize their impact on the environment and wildlife, following sustainable and ethical practices. Our philosophy is to take only photos and memories, and leave only hoofprints behind. All camps are run on solar power and generators, are built from sustainable products and try to blend in with nature.

How to they keep safari horses fit?

The horses live out in the wild, or in large camps where they can live in a herd environment. Trails are usually 3-8 days of riding, covering vast distances at a varied pace. 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.

What is the normal routine for 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 or into the veld with full hay nets or to graze on natural forage. Many horses get lunch at the same time as our guests. 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.

How do you train a safari horse?

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.

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