Endurance Training Programme

4 weeks: From GBP £4400 pp sharing

LEARN THE SECRETS OF ENDURANCE RIDING WITH AFRICA’S INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE

Experience our Endurance Training Programme, where horse and rider unite for a journey of skill, stamina, and bonding in Africa’s wilderness. 

Do you love horses and have the ambition to take on Africa on horseback? Has the thought of competing in an endurance race appealed to you but you have no idea where to start? Or are you already involved in the discipline and need more help with training and learning more about the technical side of this equestrian sport? Are you wanting to experience horse riding in another country, or achieve the ultimate goal of competing in all the major international endurance races around the world? If you are interested in becoming involved in endurance races and have a few weeks to spare, then we have the ideal opportunity for you!

Endurance riding in South Africa involves extreme distances across breath-taking landscapes. Intense and tactical, the mental and physical demands of the sport provide a test of mind as much as body, with athlete and equine welfare paramount at all times. This equestrian programme is for intermediate plus riders as you’ll spend many hours in the saddle. For those who are keen to learn more about what endurance riding entails, but are not keen to compete, you don’t need any prior endurance experience but must be willing to learn. If you’re wanting to compete, the training leading up to the races is quite intense and riders will need to be very riding fit, riding at least five times a week.

For the first time, the opportunity exists to come and train and be mentored by Wiesman Nel, and to ride his incredible Arab Endurance athletes! Horseman extraordinaire, Wiesman has gained international acclaim after competing in the ultimate endurance race, the Mongol Derby in Mongolia, where he earned second place in 2019. He has been competing in endurance races since the tender age of 7, when he competed in his first 100km endurance horse race! Wiesman has had a very successful Endurance career, always riding to finish the races rather than riding to win. His knowledge in the preparation and training of the horses to ensure that they are in peak condition to compete, as well as his knowledge in training and mentoring riders, are second to none.

DATES AND RATES

The Endurance training program is a VOLUNTEER position and is only available for set dates which start one month prior to the Endurance Races that guests will have the opportunity to participate in.

2024 RATES

29 April to 27 May 2024   

Bethlehem II Race 24th and 25th May 2024  - 5 saddles available

(Must be prepared to change rooms from 16th to 19th May)


02 September to 30 September 2024       

MMH II Race  27th and 28th September 2024 – 5 saddles available


4 weeks: GBP £4400.00

Includes 1 x 40km race

EXTRAS – SUBJECT TO CHANGE

ENDURANCE RIDES

For affiliated endurance riders wanting to compete in an 80km race or a second 40km race, an additional payment of GBP125 will be charged at the end of your stay.


TRANSFERS (Subject to change)

Return transfers OR Tambo Johannesburg / Moolmanshoek per car 1-2 pax ZAR R12500 / GBP £543*

Return transfers OR Tambo Johannesburg / Moolmanshoek  per car 3-7 pax ZAR R15100 / GBP £656*

INCLUDES & EXCLUDES

Price Includes:

  • Accommodation in a twin en-suite bathroom shared with one other volunteer
  • All meals, which includes cooked lunches and a fully stocked pantry for self-catered breakfast and dinners
  • Unlimited tea and coffee throughout the day
  • Weekly self-service laundry service during your stay
  • Wi-Fi
  • Access to the Billiard room, TV Lounge, Library and swimming pool at the lodge
  • Endurance training programme on fit and responsive horses
  • For those that choose to take part in a race within 100km of Moolmanshok – The Race entry fee, administrative Fee, Camping and transport to and from the event, plus backup from the dedicated team.
  • Trail rides through the reserve with the option to sleep out
  • Endless hikes on the reserve

Price Excludes:

  • Return flights to Johannesburg International Airport
  • Any Visas required
  • Comprehensive Travel and Medical Insurance
  • Shared road transfers between Johannesburg and Moolmanshoek (approx. £320 per person for 2 people sharing – price varies depending on the number of volunteers arriving on the same day)
  • All items of a personal nature, such as toiletries, curios, gifts, clothing
  • Any activities and excursions outside of your planned itinerary
  • Drinks, speciality food items not provided, meals at the lodge restaurants

QUICK FACTS

Location: Ficksburg, South Africa
Airport: OR Tambo (Johannesburg) International Airport
Month: May & September
Duration: 4 – 12 Weeks
Group Size: Max 8
Skill Level: Intermediate Plus / Advanced
Weight Limit: 90kg / 200lbs
Accommodation: Shared accommodation
VIEW GALLERY
4 weeks: From GBP £4400 pp sharing

SUITABLE RIDING LEVELS

  • Beginner
  • Novice
  • Intermediate
  • Intermediate Plus
  • Advanced
WHAT RIDING LEVEL AM I?

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learn the art of endurance riding from Wiesman Nel, a renowned endurance rider who has participated in the Mongol Derby and trained Willemine Jooste and Jaco Storm.
  • Learn key aspects of endurance riding, including nutrition, training, vetting and competing, from an experienced crew
  • Train and compete in local South African Endurance races
  • Ride Arabs bred for competing and help train the new generation of endurance athletes
  • Go on trail rides in an incredible reserve with stunning vistas and unique wildlife
  • Option to add on a 3-night safari to see more of Africa’s wildlife

TOUR REVIEWS

During my two-month stay at Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve, my equestrian journey took an incredible turn. Under the guidance of the legendary rider and 2nd-place winner of the Mongol Derby, Wiesman Nel, I transitioned from a part-time rider to competing in endurance races across South Africa, specifically on young Arab horses. The highlight of my newfound riding skills was embarking on a multi-day trip across Lesotho on horseback, which turned out to be one of the most exhilarating adventures of my life.
Wiesman Nel's expertise and infectious sense of adventure played a significant role in my progress. Not only did he pair me with the perfect horses, but he also patiently taught me how to fly drones while on horseback, including launching and catching them. This feat was a testament to the well-trained horses and Wiesman's gentle encouragement, which allowed me to grow not just as a rider, but as a person. Since my time at Moolmanshoek earlier in 2023, I've traveled across East Africa, the United States, and Poland. Yet, my heart yearns to return to the saddle in South Africa.

Wikki WestMoolmanshoek, South Africa
READ MORE REVIEWS

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Reserve life can be unpredictable, particularly when dealing with over 240 odd horses! However, there is a rough daily routine in which volunteers joining our program will be immersed in.

On arrival, you will be given an orientation of the stables and the general daily routine, introduced to the staff and some of the many horses we have on the reserve. Being an Arabian and Boerperd Stud farm, there are many to meet, including the season’s foals and future endurance champions! There is always the opportunity to work with the youngsters as well as immersing yourself in the Endurance program.

Since we are a long way from vets, there is also the opportunity to become involved in general veterinary care of the horses, particularly related to the life of African horses living in the bush!

Endurance Training

The Endurance training program is a VOLUNTEER position and is only available for set dates which start one month prior to the Endurance Races that guests will have the opportunity to participate in.

The endurance training program varies from day to day, to ensure that the Endurance horses remain motivated through different activities while building their levels of fitness.  The horses’ training alternates with exercising in our automated “Walker” and training out on our endurance tracks around the reserve which offer varied terrain and distances.  You will be accompanied by our staff and on occasion Wiesman himself, all of whom have extensive experience in the training and preparation of our endurance athletes! You will be taught all aspects of preparing your own horse for endurance racing, from nutrition, exercise regimes, checking pulses, and how to manage your horse during actual endurance events.  

Endurance training is carried out for five days of the week, with average rides of anything between an hour and two and a half hours. On occasion, two or more training sessions are done on a day, however, this is not the daily norm.  On alternative days, horses are exercised in our automated “walker”, and volunteers will be given the opportunity to join guest trail rides on Boerperd. Please note that the endurance horses are rested for one week leading up to a race, so training for that last week is suspended.  During this time, volunteers will join day rides with guests on Boerperd Horses as well as  becoming involved in Natural Horsemanship if Monde is working with youngsters, and even attempt some “Tripple Training” on some of our gaited horses. Opportunities also sometimes exist to become involved with moving young horses or even some of the plains game species that have wandered out of their territory.

One 40km race entry is included in the cost of the one-month program.  For any additional races that volunteers might want to participate in, these will be at additional costs.  Only riders that are affiliated Endurance Riders in their own countries, that are in good standing with their Federation and can provide documentation to this effect, will be able to compete in an 80km race.

Daily Routine

Early morning routines would include assisting with feeding and checking on horses around the stable yard, helping with grooming and turning out the stable horses that will not be in work for the day. On days that we host guests for rides on the boerperd, you will be given the opportunity to join these rides through the reserve, viewing game on horseback and enjoying the spectacular trails up into the Witteberg Mountains that surround the reserve.

You are expected to assist with grooming and tacking up horses for guest rides, as well as offering assistance during the ride and chatting to the guests.  Our volunteer position is best suited to hard working, bubbly, enthusiastic young riders that enjoy the company of others, and are always positive and upbeat. 

After returning from rides, horses need to be hosed down, and tack cleaned and checked, and packed away neatly into the tack room on the labelled stands and hooks.  Saddle blankets are washed once a week and we expect volunteers to help with this as well as finding other ways of ensuring that the stable and guest areas are kept clean and tidy at all times.

There is also the option of accompanying any guests that book one of our overnight horse trails on the reserve, if these bookings are made during your stay. We have the option of overnighting in a Hiking Cabin in the mountains, or a Sandstone Cave – a unique experience!

Endurance Races

You will be taught all aspects of preparing your horse for endurance racing, from nutrition, exercise regimes, checking pulses, and how to manage your horse during endurance events. We recommend that riders who wish to compete, spend a minimum of 3 weeks on the programme before the race to ensure that they are riding fit, have learnt all the critical skills and have bonded with their horses. If you want to compete, the training leading up to the races is quite intense and riders will need to be very riding fit, riding at least five times a week.

For the races, the dedicated team will be on hand throughout to assist riders. Included in the Endurance package is transport to the race location (horses and rider), camping fees, entrance and administration fees, horse and tack for the race, and assistance from the MMH team during the event.

For those that want to compete in the Fauresmith event, which is South Africa’s equivalent of the Tevis Cup in the States, the horses will have to had completed 3 x 80km endurance races to allow them to qualify (extra costs may need to be factored in). This happens in July each year. If you are keen to compete in one of the Ultimate International Endurance Events, we recommend booking in advance and arriving at least 4 weeks before the competition date.

Please note – you must be a member of an Endurance Affiliation in your own country to enable you to compete for rides longer than 40km.

Meet your coach - Wiesman Nel

Wiesman Nel, horseman extraordinaire, has gained international acclaim after competing in THE ultimate endurance race, the Mongol Derby in Mongolia, where he earned second place in 2019. The Mongol Derby is known to be the longest Endurance race in the world, covering a distance of 1 000 km that takes 10 days to complete.

He has been competing in endurance races since the tender age of 7, when he competed in his first 100km endurance race! He took a short break from endurance until 2009, when he became competitive again. He qualified for the legendary Fauresmith Endurance ride, the highlight of the South African Endurance horse-riding calendar. Wiesman rode for the National Team for the Tri-Nations Competition in 2012 where he finished 7th in his weight category. He then became involved in developing extreme trail rides along the Wild Coast of South Africa and through Lesotho and in 2019, qualified to ride in the Mongol Derby where he placed 2nd. He has recently completed his third Fauresmith, accompanied by his two children, Anne and Willie.

The Horses

There are over 240 horses on the farm, mostly living out as a herd, with the freedom to roam across the ranch. Horses have always been a big part of Moolmanshoek, first being used on the farm as workhorses to herd cattle, check livestock and do fence sweeps. In 1990, Wiesman’s grandfather selected a top English breeding stallion, Olford Silver Tu Penny. This phenomenal stallion sired, amongst others, Sweep, Pula and Moya, Arabians that ranked in the top 5 in the world in Dubai.

When Wiesman took over the farm, he became good friends with Leon Liversage and they developed Moolmanshoek Endurance Horses, selecting and breeding horses for export and endurance racing. Over 20 of the horses they bred were exported to Dubai for endurance. In 1997, Wiesman registered his own Boerperd Stud, and has since been breeding both Arabians for endurance and Boerperd horses for trail and safari horses.

Tack used

You will be introduced to the tack the team uses, which might be quite different to what you have used before. Wiesman was instrumental in the testing and upgrading of the legendary Trail Rider, and Kentucky Saddles designed and developed by Leon Liversage – These are used in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia by some of the top endurance riders.

Wildlife from the saddle

Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve not only breeds phenomenal Arabs and Boerperd horses, but is also an incredible destination for discerning travellers that want to experience life in the African bush from horseback. The plains game found on the reserve include Black Wildebeest, Impala, eland, ostrich, red hartebeest, water buck, springbok, lechwe, oryx, warthogs, blesbok, black backed jackal, caracul, and the more elusive aardvark and aardwolf. Long stay interns can also opt to add on a 3-night stay in a nearby game reserve to get the opportunity to see elephants, buffalo and big cats.

Big 5 Safari - Add On

For those that are staying longer, there is the chance to head to the nearby Nambiti Reserve. Springbok Lodge offer guests a chance to unwind in a picture-perfect setting while getting the chance to head out on twice-daily game drives. The Nambiti Private Game Reserve is a conservancy offering 22 000 acres of pristine, Malaria-free bushveld. The Reserve is home to the Big Five, as well as Cheetah, Hippo and over 30 species of plains game.

Head off on an open game-viewing vehicle before sunrise or in the afternoon with your field guide who will ensure that you get the most out of the experience and enjoy the abundance of wildlife and unspoiled African vistas. There’ll be a chance to quench your thirst and stretch your legs during the drinks break while enjoying the sounds and silences of the bush. The memory of sipping a steaming cup of Amarula coffee or enjoying a G & T with the sunset in such humbling surroundings is one that will be remembered forever.

3-night package from GBP345* per person sharing

THE ACCOMMODATION

SANDSTONE LODGE

You will be accommodated in the beautiful Sandstone lodge in a twin room shared with another volunteer during your stay. Each room has a bathroom-en-suite and access to a small catering kitchen. This is a short walk from the stables, equestrian clubhouse, and the lodge’s main reception and dining area. Every day, you will join the staff for lunch at the main lodge or in the equestrian clubhouse, while ingredients will be provided for self-catering for breakfast and dinner. The guest area also has a billiard room, TV lounge and small library for you to use.

THE DESTINATION

Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve

Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve is a piece of paradise – teeming with plains game and endless miles of riding country. Hikes up into the mountains to enjoy refreshing swims in natural rock pools or under exquisite waterfalls, while immersing yourself in nature which takes you far from the maddening crowds. Being a stud farm as well as a nature reserve, you are surrounded by herds of horses living free as nature intended. With all the dams on the reserve, you will have the opportunity to swim with your horse during the warmer summer months after your trail rides or endurance training.

Horse safari at Moolmanshoek Lodge in South Africa

HOW WE CARE FOR OUR HORSES

Our horseback adventures are hand-picked for the quality and care of their horses. Here’s how the horses at Moolmanshoek are kept in tip-top shape for their safaris and endurance races. Our horses are on top of the hierarchy and receive very special care:

  • Our horses live out year-round in a herd, allowing them to live naturally alongside all the other animals on the reserve, including zebra, eland, oryx and other antelope.
  • Being an Arabian and Boerperd Stud farm, the breeding stock and youngsters live out in the mountains, where they gain valuable experience in climbing, resulting in hardy, sure-footed rides once they are backed. These herds are checked on daily by stockmen on horseback.
  • The Endurance horses are bought in twice a day and stabled overnight to be fed, checked and groomed by our devoted team. During the winter months, the endurance horses and any other horses that might have lost condition or have injuries, receive extra care and are 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 (we try to keep as many horses as possible barefoot).
  • Our saddles are specially designed for trails which mean they are comfortable for the horse, distributing the rider’s weight evenly, and 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. For the endurance horses, a full programme is set up for each horse to ensure they are fit for the race. We have a dedicated onsite horse trainer who keeps the horses in tip-top shape.

Please let us know if you have any more questions about this.

HOW TO SIGN UP FOR A HORSE SAFARI

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