Just before leaving the guest farm I spent three months volunteering at in South Africa, we entered an endurance competition as Day Riders, meaning, we would complete the ride in one day. There are people who take up to three days to complete something like 180kms! The people who ride endurance this way almost always ride Arab horses as they are built for going long distance at speed.
The Lydenrust Guest Farm team.
We on the other hand had our regular horses, mine a Boerperd, a hardy South African breed. Her name is Manama and we had a slow burning romance. When I first rode her, I hated riding her, but I was eventually talked into giving her another chance and we soon became fast friends. By the end of my stay she and I were galloping bareback and bit-less up the mountains early in the morning.
I have never had such a close and trusting bond with a horse. I have cantered bareback with my arms out stretched on her for up to ten minutes on a dirt road.
We boxed our four horses and set them up in the temporary stalls for the day, then set up our own camp and registered. The horses all had to be checked over by a vet to ensure they were sound enough to compete. The ground on the property was very gravelly and had lots of hills. I even made some new friends.
The next morning we got up super early to get ready to ride. The horses were raring to go! In fact we couldnt hold them back for the entire 3 hour ride, we pretty much just had to hold on! It was exhilarating! All these serious endurance competitors on their Arabs were overtaken by us giggling and laughing on the backs of our frothing horses who were running like they’d never been set free in the wild. At one point I had a laughing fit and almost fell off!
The best view you could ever ask for – from the horse’s back.
The views were incredible. These photos were taken with my iPhone which for some reason made everything yellow probably due to how dry the land was at that time of year.
It was one of the best experiences of my life and not least because the four of us came in 1st! Who would have thought that our regular farm horses would beat all the competitive arabs to come in first!?
Racing each other to get 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th! Our time was just under 3 hours!
My certificate of achievement 🙂
I am so glad I got to experience such an incredible adventure and I sorely miss my days on the farm and especially riding that shiny black mare.