Thursday, March 18, 2010

David in Africa - First Chapter

Note: Since I put the last posting up, I've re-arranged the blog to be in chronological order rather than the last blog first. To do this I had to screwed up the post dates.
You can view the video of riding in Wilderness at:

Come Ride with Us.
View my website at

January 8th: I arrived in George, South Africa on January 1st.

The farm is at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains

Edda (one of) my boss picked me up at the airport and off we went to the Wilderness Adventure Horse Farm. I could tell from the moment I met Edda that I made a great choice. Now, it's over a week since I got here but already it seems like I've been here for a long time. And it's turning out to be everything I had hoped for.

The horse farm is about 30 minutes from George, a relatively small town near the coast. The farm is inland about 7 miles and close to the entrance to the park...and that's were we do most of our riding. My hosts/bosses, Edda and Brus are wonderful very caring people and have four great kids who of course ride with great skill. They have accepted me as one of the family.

The main house has a large porch, and most of our relaxed time is spent there.

The stable is right next door and there's pasture land beyond that. There's a vegetable garden too.

I live in the bunk house which is next to the stable. They called it the hotel when I got there but I started calling it the bunk house and I think that name will stick.

Tough life huh?

I have a room with a couple of beds, a little kitchen and a bath with a shower. It's wonderful. It faces east so it's bathed with the morning sun and the horses wake me as they start coming in for their morning feeding. It stays pretty cool during the day because the building is brick and there are some large trees that screen it from the afternoon sun. And it does get hot.

The weather has varied since I arrived with a couple thunder showers. But mostly it's been clear and hot, getting up to about 90 during the day. But it always starts cooling down at around 4:00pm. South Africa is in a serious drought. The ponds around the farm are dry and the rivers just barely running.

Brus and Edda's son Sasha gives treats (organic) to the horses as they come back from a ride.

There are about 15 horses, 8 of which are OK for guests to ride. Others are in training or too young to be ridden yet.

Paulo and a yearling colt. Paulo helps with tacking up and feeding the horses and almost everything else.

My "job" is just what Edda said it would be...I ride every day. The first day I rode with one of the family and learned the basic routes for "short rides." I also rode up the waterfall with is a longer ride. The swimming hole at the falls is still full.

Rides range from an hour to 4 hours or longer with some overnight rides too. On my second day I went out solo on the short ride with three guests and since have lead several short rides.

On the road to the Park

I've been riding different horses to get familiar with them. A few days ago, Brus suggested I ride Black Beauty, a pretty black (of course) geldine.

My vanity shot.

He's about four years old, about the right height for me...about 14 1/2 hands and has been ridden but not particularly trained. He has wonderful gates...a fast walk, smooth and slow trot...a comfortable canter. So when I came back from my first ride with him I said how much fun he was and Brus said "why don't you ride him while you're here and train him." Beauty has a wonderful smooth slow trot.

So I have my own horse. And Brus even has a western saddle. It needs some repair but a friend of Brus and Edda is a leather craftsman and he took it home last night to fix up.

Brus, a friend and I went on a ride a couple of days ago. It was a training ride for Beauty and another horse Brus is working with. Up and down really steep hills and way back into the forest. We rode I haven't ridden since I had the Ranch. I found muscles I forgotten...and they got stiff. First time I've been stiff since I got here.

The farm is the home for the Russian Stunt Riders.
Brus is from Russia and an incredible trainer and stunt rider. He has a long list of film credits to his name and is a wonderful teacher too.

Brus successfully mounts a horse for the first time, after just 20 minutes training!

Last Wednesday night was the first time I really had a chance to see the sky. It's so beautiful. I found the Southern Cross and the southern hemisphere Orion. I pulled my mattress pad out in front of the bunk house and went to sleep gazing at the sky.

So I feel very lucky. Again I've found myself in a wonderful adventure with great people in a beautiful place. And another two plus months to enjoy it.