Keeping her horses in tip-top condition is a full-time job for Abelana Horse Safaris’ Tamlyn Whitebread. Even though Abelana Game Reserve is closed to guests, Tamlyn’s “herd” of 14 horses are being constantly exercised as she and her team work hard to ensure they stay fit and healthy for the duration of lockdown.
Of course, for a horse-lover like Tamlyn, who’s also a qualified and experienced safari guide, there’s nothing better than spending a few hours in the African wilderness in the saddle, putting her beloved horses through their paces. She has a helping hand in the form of husband Rudi Britz, who is Abelana’s assistant reserve manager and a keen rider too!
The bush looks and feels very different from the saddle as you take in the surroundings at a leisurely and natural pace, absorbing details you often miss on a traditional game drive. Wildlife also perceives you differently on horseback and sometimes allows you to get a lot closer on four legs than you would on four wheels!
The herd features a mix of boerperd and boerperd crossbred horses, all of which are at ease in the bush, thanks to the constant training and exercise routines Tamlyn and her team put them through, all designed to keep them familiarised with the wildlife they encounter and the landscapes they traverse.
The horse camp is located close to its home base at Abelana Safari Camp and includes secure paddocks, a stable yard and exercise areas, all protected by electric fencing. From here, guests head out to explore the southern reaches of Abelana Game Reserve on three-hour morning and afternoon trails, stopping en-route for refreshments and to stretch their legs.
There’s also the option of a spectacular day-long, 30km trail to the northern section of the reserve, complete with an overnight stay at Abelana River Lodge, before returning back to Abelana Safari Camp courtesy of another full-day in the saddle. Riders need to be strong intermediate to advanced in their skill levels because although the rides are not necessarily strenuous, riders do need to be able to canter away from danger if needs be. To help prepare guests, questionnaires are forwarded to them before their safari to assess their level of skill and riding ability so as to ensure safety levels and enjoyment.