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Posted on March 1, 2023
Towards the end of 2022 Abbie headed off to South Africa to visit the ever-popular Horizon Lodge. She tells us in this blog post about her stay, and what makes Horizon a firm favourite with In The Saddle guests.
In The Saddle and Horizon have been working together since 1997. Over the years, ITS staff have visited 24 times, and we’ve loved seeing the operation grow and develop. From a few rooms and small herd of horses, Horizon is now a beautiful lodge run by a dedicated team of professionals, with 9 guest rooms and over 80 horses. In the past 26 years we’ve sent many hundreds of guests. A good few booked their ‘holiday of a lifetime’, only to develop a Horizon addiction and they now return regularly! During our partnership spanning a quarter century, Horizon has contributed to many pivotal points in the lives of In The Saddle guests – from once in a lifetime holidays and special birthday celebrations, to romantic proposals and beautiful wedding ceremonies.
On the day of my departure it struck me how well-timed my trip was. It was great to leave behind the cold and fog of the British winter and go in search of warmer climes. I was really looking forward to some sunshine!
My last visit to Horizon had been back in 2009. I was eager to see Shane, Laura, Kirsty, the lodge and Horizon team again.
Over the next few days I played polocrosse, splashed through Sunset Lake and cantered with a dazzle of zebra. I watched giraffe browsing on the plains and zoomed along sandy tracks as four big kudu bulls crossed right in front of us. Had I stayed a couple more days I would also have had time to go swimming with my horse in the lake, and perhaps done some jumping over Horizon’s natural fences.
Every morning I woke to beautiful birdsong and enjoyed a cup of tea on my veranda as I watched the sun come out. Each day was relaxing and exciting in equal measure. I knew that whatever we were doing, I’d be given a wonderful horse to ride and have a brilliant time with new-found friends. It was not hard to see why Horizon has such a loyal fan club.
I’m often asked which destination is best for competent riders, which is ideal for families, where would suit couples and single travellers. But Horizon suits just about everyone, and here’s how:
At Horizon all levels of rider are catered for beautifully. Those newer to riding can head out on horseback and learn the ropes at a steady pace in a relaxed setting. Intermediate riders can expand their skills by riding different horses and trying out a range of activities. And experienced riders will really enjoy riding the most responsive horses in the herd – cantering along the endless sandy tracks, galloping through Sunset Lake and bombing about on the polocrosse field.
Each day there are different activities on offer. Try your hand at western games or polocrosse, go on out rides to the far-reaches of the reserve, head off wildlife viewing to spot species like baboon, eland and zebra, and take a refreshing swim with your horse. During a longer stay there’s usually the chance to take a full-day ride to the neighbouring reserve of Bellevue Plains. Here there’s a wide variety of game – tsessebe, blesbok, kudu, eland, impala, wildebeest, zebra, and giraffe.
During my visit there were six single travellers staying. It was great to see how quickly friendships formed – from complete strangers on day one, to planning a return visit together on day four! Horizon is great for solo travellers because there’s the built-in company of other guests, as well as Horizon’s wonderfully friendly staff and volunteers. You never feel on your own – unless you want to be!
Everyone comes together for meals and these are always a sociable affair; from breakfast in the garden and lunch on the veranda, to afternoon tea under the Syringa tree, group sundowners and supper in the dining room. There are plenty of places to relax if you want some quiet time, but if you’re seeking company then the stoep is great area to hang out, chat and get a cold cider from the fridge or help yourself to a cup of tea.
Horizon is a terrific option for couples. The relaxing lake-side setting offers the chance for couples to re-connect and truly unwind. For added privacy, consider upgrading to a Luxury Chalet with your own veranda.
The range of activities and tailored riding makes Horizon the perfect choice, whether you’re both experienced in the saddle, are more novice riders, or of mixed riding ability. In the morning you could both head out on a game-viewing ride, come back to the lodge for lunch, then have a massage, before tea and cake and the afternoon ride. There’s a good balance of down time as a couple and joining in with the group activities.
Horizon has something for everyone, whether your family is all horse-mad, or there are some more reluctant riders in your group. Exploring the African bush on horseback is totally different experience to the rules and regulations of riding in the UK, so you might just convert those less enthusiastic members of the family!
Each day is new and exciting. There’s a seemingly endless string of horses to try (until you find your favourite that is). You’ll go on out-rides, play polocrosse, splash in the dam and go on a full-day adventure to Bellevue Plains. There’s also a range of off-site activities to keep everyone amused, from curio shopping, to a big five game drive. You might also like to join a fascinating night sky safari talk to learn about the stars.
Regardless of your riding background, whether you’re travelling alone, with family or friends, a stay at Horizon has all the ingredients of a perfect riding holiday!
A huge thank you to Shane, Laura, Kirsty and the whole Horizon team for having me. I loved the horses I rode – Duke, Tipi and Goose. My guide Anneen was great fun, informative and professional. I didn’t get to ride with Shingi, Silas and Simon, but heard plenty of glowing comments on their guiding skills. Volunteers Helen, Fleur and Franky were excellent horsewomen, ever-cheerful and energetic!