In The Saddle’s Festive Round-Up: Christmas in South Africa

Posted on December 23, 2021

Christmas in South Africa

If you’ve always wondered what it might be like to spend Christmas on horseback in snowy Iceland, or sunny South Africa, then you might enjoy our next few blog posts. In the run-up to Christmas, we’ll be sharing how ride operators around the world usually spend the festive season.

Next up, we’ll find out how Christmas looks at Horizon in the Waterberg area of South Africa.

Having fun on the annual Boxing day ‘hunt’.  Photo by Tanya Baber.

Christmas Eve

Around Christmas Eve (or thereabouts), there is a carol service by candlelight in the garden for everyone in the community.  There is an open invitation to everyone to join the festivities at Horizon with carol singing and a potluck dinner. This is normally a large event and often ends up with dancing into the small hours.

Even the dogs get into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Day

The big day itself begins with a Buck’s Fizz cocktail and a bush breakfast morning ride for the riders and church for those who wish to go. Next up, is late morning present opening for all and the start of the cooking of the turkeys.  These are cooked on an open fire in large cauldron-like pots known as ‘poitjies’. In the afternoon, it’s time for the Christmas feast with many courses, far too much food and drink, and rounded off with panettone, chocolates and party games.

Enjoying the festive period at Horizon.  Photo by Tanya Baber.

Christmas for the horses

The horses at Horizon in December are at their peak, the grass is green, the sun is shining and they get full of themselves.

Kat popping a log on the Boxing day ‘hunt’.  Photo by Tanya Baber.

The Boxing day Hunt extravaganza is the ride of the year.  Several teams dressed in a variety of festive red outfits trying to catch the “fox” (a designated rider).  The riders look forward to it all year as do the horses.

In hot pursuit of the “fox”. Photo by Tanya Baber.

Christmas food and drink

At Horizon, they eat a lot of the traditional Christmas fares from the UK and Italy.  There is everything from smoked salmon, turkey and sprouts to panettone and cantucci (almond biscotti).

The horses and humans look forward to the annual Boxing day ‘hunt’.  Photo by Tanya Baber.

Most memorable Christmas

Horizon recalls their most memorable Christmas.  It was a few years ago, before they built the ‘Ha-Ha’ (it’s purpose will be revealed later).  They had fifty people, sat down and about to tuck into their Christmas dinner when a hippo decided to investigate. At first, they simply watched him and held their ground.  However, when it became apparent the hippo wasn’t stopping, it was a run for cover.  The interesting thing was observing what people take with them.  Those with children tended to grab them, those who had been waiting hungrily for hours, were not leaving without their plate and others who will remain nameless just grabbed the champagne and ran. Luckily, the hippo didn’t stay long and left the table untouched but was definitely one to remember.  You guessed it, the ‘Ha-Ha’ was built to keep hippo out of the garden!

The Horizon extended family

Many thanks to Laura from Horizon for sharing this lovely insight into Christmas in South Africa

If you are interested in riding in South Africa, then please do email us on or call +44 1299 272 997 for more information.

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