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Drakensberg Horse Trails

This project is perfect for advanced horse riders and is set against the breathtaking Drakensberg escarpment. The horses live a natural life among the wild horses of Kaapsehoop. As a volunteer, you will sharpen your riding skills and learn countless more.

Drakensberg Horse Trails

Overview:

Location Closest town: Nelspruit, Kaapsehoop, South Africa
Duration From 2 weeks
Dates All year round from mid-January to mid-December
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: This programme is only available for experienced riders. You must weigh below 70 kg (animal welfare considerations require that a horseback riding weight limit must be applied to ensure that the horses do not suffer back injuries)
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, riding experience questionnaire, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Monday
Day of departure Monday

Highlights

  • Work with horses in their natural habitat.
  • Learn aspects of natural horsemanship.
  • Experience the wild horses of the area and the local community.
  • Take part in amazing excursions outside of the project such as Kruger National Park and other sanctuaries in the area, hot air ballooning or caving.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

The Drakensberg Horse Trails project is a well-known and peaceful retreat on the beautiful Drakensberg escarpment, 35km from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga in South Africa.

The project was established in 1994 by an amazing South African named Christo on a 17,000ha private concession on the Berlin forestry plantation of Komatiland. With over 30 years of trail riding experience, the team works on a natural horsemanship basis. The project is geared toward allowing the public to enjoy comfortable and safe horse riding whether they are beginner or experienced riders, on the well-trained cross-bred horses.

The project caters for small groups, families and individuals wanting a real outdoor, stunningly beautiful horse riding experience. Guests to the project as well as volunteers enjoy 1 hour/2 hour or longer outrides in the beautiful scenery of the Drakensberg mountains.

It is a must for horse lovers and guaranteed an unforgettable experience!

Your Role

You will work full days from Monday to Sunday. Although weekends are always busy, you can ask to have time off should you want to do something.

Activities during the week could include:

  • Training of young horses.
  • Grooming and cleaning.
  • Assisting shoeing of horses.
  • General equine husbandry.
  • Lessons in saddles and bridles.
  • Horseback riding.
  • Counteracting alien vegetation.
  • Community project with the local forestry community.
  • General farm maintenance.

Please note that the work on the project is for experienced riders only. There are a number of tasks that require a very good working knowledge of equine husbandry. The days can be long and tiring, but incredibly rewarding, and you will learn valuable lessons in how these amazing beasts live and work in South Africa.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of the year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

Accommodation

The project accommodation is very basic but comfortable. You will be housed in a volunteer quarter which is a two-bedroom house located on site. The house has a fully-equipped kitchen, a shower, a separate bathroom and a lounge area. The bedrooms are each equipped with two single beds and you will be asked to share with one other person if the maximum volunteer capacity of 4 persons is reached. The veranda looks out onto the stunning mountains of the Kaapsehoop region. There is also an open fireplace should you wish to barbecue or sit around a campfire in the evenings. Bedding and towels are provided. Laundry service is available.

WiFi is available at your own expense – the project team can help you to purchase a South African SIM card for your devices/phone.

Testimonials

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"My name is Chrissie Moore and I first went to KHT on a three day horse riding break, The people, horses, dogs and scenery so touched my heart that I came back as a volunteer first for a month and then with the permission of the Kaapsehoop team another 6 months, 3 months later. One of the things that makes KHT so unique is the freedom the horses have all apart from some of the stallions roam free until needed. As a volunteer the work starts early in the morning, each day is different and varied including getting the horses ready for trail rides grooming, tacking up and riding or maintaining the vegetable garden for the community people. Some days we went along the trails removing rocks, debris and alien plant species to make it safe for the horses. Sometimes young horses need schooling in the ring, on lunge or long rein. At home we are responsible for our own washing and taking turns in cooking and cleaning. We work as a team although it feels more like a close family thanks to Mariska and Leon. I have to say that being at KHT is the best thing that has ever happened in my life and coming from a 52 year old that says a lot being I have seen and experienced a lot of life. I realised how important the bond between horse and rider is and how much I needed them back in my life."

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"I spent two wonderful weeks with the Kaapsehoop Horse Trails team. We rode a lot, took care of the horses, helped builing a vegetable garden for the community and cleared new riding paths. I learned a lot of new things from the Kaapsehoop team, from catching and spotting horses in the wild, to meeting wildhorses as well as injecting horses and training young ones. In my time with the project, the team took excellent care of me. I missed nothing and was able to ask them for anything, they were always very helpful. They also provided us with a great program. Beside the project, the team drove us to town, where we were able to go shopping and aquire anything needed. With all extra tours we had a lot of help from the project team. They organised everything for us, drove us and picked us up again. I could go on like this for ages, my memories of South Africa are unbelievable. If it's the baboon coming to steal avocados from the farm, the dogs chasing him away, the unknown birds, the wild horses, the riding or all the wild animals we saw on our safari - my stay on the farm was wonderful!"

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"I went to the Kaapsehoop Horse Trails Volunteer Project from 4th March 2013 to 1st April 2013. Before coming there I didn’t really know what to expect but it’s safe to say that my stay there exceeded all expectations. We worked every day from 7am to 4 pm and it never got boring: When there were guests we helped bringing in the horses, cleaning them and saddling/bridling them. We rode out on the many different horse trails in the beautiful scenery of the forests, fields and canyons. We cleared the horse trails of alien plants, cut down trees with bushwhackers and cleared streams so they could flow more freely. When we had some free time we drove to a mountain river with a waterfall where we could go swimming or Leon and Mariska showed me some old caves. Once a week we did a shopping trip to Nelspruit to get the food for the next week and sometimes we spent a few hours at one of the big shopping malls. In the evenings Mariska always cooked for us and we spent the last few hours of the day together, watching TV and talking. It was a very familiar atmosphere which was really nice and on quite a few evenings they took us with us when they were visiting some friends or making a barbecue down at the stables. In regard to the horses I can only say that they have the best life there. They always roam free wherever they want and they are treated with such love and respect which you don’t find very often. Before going to South Africa I wasn’t a good rider but I think that my time there has left me with a better understanding for horses and I have been told I am riding “one hundred percent better” now. :-) The people there managed to bring the “horse mentality” a lot closer to me and I really hope I can continue to ride at home even though it will be very different from there. All in all you could say that I had the best time of my life there and I really hope I can come back soon."