Behind The Scenes: An Exclusive
Glimpse into Our Trail Preparation

Nicky Hoseck

Every night, you’ve been dreaming about cantering through the waves. Ever since you booked your spot on the Wild Coast Horse Trail, you’ve thought of little else, and when the sun rises on that first morning, there's an indescribable mixture of anticipation and excitement coursing through your veins. 

You've spent months planning your trip, but nothing can truly prepare you for the journey that lies ahead.

Over the next seven days, you and your horse will navigate rocky descents, meander through ancient forests and wade through choppy rivers. In the evenings, you’ll share stories around the dinner table before drifting off to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing in the background. 

But before this epic adventure can commence, your guides and crew spend hours selecting and conditioning the horses, preparing equipment and assembling the necessary supplies. Every detail is vital if you’re to enjoy a safe yet unforgettable journey.

In this blog, we’re going behind the scenes to see what really happens before your arrival and what it takes to make a 7-day overnight horse trail a reality. As you read, we hope you'll gain an appreciation for the hard work and logistics required to coordinate such an ambitious expedition!

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
- Malcolm Marx

Expert Insights into Horse Allocations on the Wild Coast

With Wild Coast Horses, you can experience the untamed beauty of the Wild Coast the way it was meant to be seen - from the back of a reliable trail horse. Meander through traditional Xhosa villages, and follow cattle paths through riverine forests and over windswept headlands where the waves crash below. 

The Wild Coast stretches along the northern coastline of the Eastern Cape, encompassing sheltered bays, rolling hills, jagged cliffs and great swathes of canter-worthy beaches and Kei Mouth is the perfect gateway to this natural spectacle.

Not only is the village easily accessible by tar road from both East London and Centane, but it’s also a safe and friendly base from which to explore the Wild Coast. 

A Smooth Ride on the Wild Side

At Wild Coast Horse Riding Adventures, we have a select group of horses who’ve been handpicked to deliver the best riding experience over the challenging terrain that makes our signature Wild Coast Horse Trail the adventure you’ve been dreaming of.

Each of these horses was either bred by us or chosen for its temperament, athletic prowess, and steady mind. Of course, no horse comes to us ready to take clients on a 200 km journey, and it takes years to train and condition a horse to the point that he or she is ready to embark on the trip.

Not all our horses make it to the stage where they can complete this distance with a sound body and mind. Those that do need to be carefully maintained, ensuring their feet are strong, their weight is optimal, and their conditioning has properly prepared them for the rigours of the trail.

Of course, it’s not just about the horse but about matching each rider to their perfect equine companion. This crucial job falls to your expert trail guides who, having spent hours riding with the horses, know their personalities and quirks intimately. 

If you’ve recently booked a trail with us, you might remember answering a few questions about your style of riding and the kind of horse you most enjoy. This information is critical both for your enjoyment and your safety. A rider who’s comfortable with their mount will ride confidently, establishing a partnership that allows horse and rider to navigate the trail as a cohesive unit.

A rider who’s given a horse that’s too demanding or has quirks they’re not comfortable with may struggle to maintain control, putting themselves, their horse, and other members of the group in potential danger. 

Not only must the horse and rider work cohesively together, but the herd must also rub along well enough that no major fights break out either during the rides or in the paddocks overnight. Our horses must be well-mannered and capable of getting along amicably with the other horses on the trail both under saddle and when loose.

The guide's horse is also critical to the experience, and finding a level-headed horse with the confidence, speed, and stamina needed to lead the trail is essential for a successful trail. 

Tide and Time Wait For No Horse: Tweaking the Itinerary

While we use the same route for every trail, changes do occur, depending on the tides and weather conditions. Heavy rain can swell the rivers, causing dangerous flash floods that see gallons of water gushing down to the coast. Similarly, high tides can see entire beaches swallowed by rough seas, making traversing them impossible and forcing us to find an alternative inland route.

How fast we move is also governed by the tides, and we sometimes leave at dawn to ensure we catch a particularly large river at the lowest tide. Equally, we may occasionally delay rides until later in the morning so we can be assured of the easiest crossing. 

Rather than carrying camping gear like some African horse safaris, our rides utilize local accommodations to host both riders and horses overnight, which means we operate on a set schedule. 

Fortunately, our hosts are used to odd arrival times and early departures, and do all they can to accommodate our needs, feeding our guests outside traditional meal times and even packing hearty trail lunches for long days in the saddle.

Even without the camping equipment, it’s impossible to travel light! With limited grazing and large appetites to consider, we transport large quantities of both feed and roughage, sometimes even sending supplies up ahead of time to ensure our horses are adequately catered for.

With no vets or farriers readily available on the trail, we also carry a complete first aid kit stocked with supplies to handle any minor injuries or hoof issues that may arise during the journey. 

We’re also prepared to deal with disease outbreaks and travel with a range of medicines to treat common issues such as colic, African Horse Sickness, and tick-borne diseases like biliary. 

All You Need to Know About Tack Care and Equipment Prep

A couple of days before the trail is due to depart, the preparation starts in earnest. Every piece of tack and equipment is checked, cleaned, and repaired if necessary, ensuring that everything is safe and functional for the trip ahead. The horses' blankets are washed, saddles soaped and oiled, and bridles conditioned to prevent cracking or breakage on the trail.

The horses are allocated a few days in advance, so they can enjoy a break before the hard work begins. This also gives our staff the chance to treat any minor scrapes and scratches, trim their hooves, and, at the last possible moment, give them a full-body shampoo so they're gleaming when their riders arrive. We even go as far as to condition their manes and tails, although they also do everything in their power to mess them up again!

Only once every detail has been checked and double-checked do we call it a day and head home to get a good night’s rest before the adventure begins. 

The Final Stretch  

Preparing for an adventure like the one you’ve been dreaming about takes dedication and hard work. Any mistake or oversight could jeopardise the safety of a guest or a horse, so we’re meticulous in our planning and attention to detail. 

We ensure that every aspect, from equipment checks to route planning, is thoroughly reviewed and double-checked, prioritising safety at every stage so you can immerse yourself in the experience without worrying about the details. 

Preparing and allocating horses is a critical step in the journey, but it's only the beginning. Our commitment goes way beyond the preparation phase and into every moment of your adventure.

We constantly reassess the conditions, stay attentive to the needs of both guests and horses and adapt as necessary to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. 

With our experienced guides and well-trained horses, you can trust that you're in capable hands, ready to make unforgettable memories.

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