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Horse Trail Experience

These beautiful animals have spent the majority of their lives in cruel and unjust hands. And now they are able to spend the remainder of their time in peace along the Garden Route. A magical project for all horse and animals lovers. No previous experience is necessary. Enjoy this unique way to see this part of South Africa on horseback.

Horse Rescue Project
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Overview:

Location Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Duration From 3 weeks
Dates All year round
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: Prior horse experience is advantageous but what is of most importance is an evident passion for, and appreciation of, animals.
  • Special skills: You must be in good physical condition with an extremely active, hands-on approach to work in all allocated activities of the farm and stables.
Minimum Age: 18
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Sunday
Day of departure Sunday

Highlights

  • Working closely with horses and other farm animals including cows and pigs plus domestic dogs and cats.
  • Assisting in rebuilding trust with rescued horses.
  • Learning about animal behaviour from experienced horse carers.
  • Gain hands-on exposure to integrated permaculture techniques inclusive of the tneding and processing of vegetables, poultry and pigs.
  • Volunteering in the heart of the Garden Route.
  • Choosing from amazing activities during your free time, such as Bloukrans Bungy (the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee jump), zipline, wild life & reptile sanctuaries and a game reserve, wine estates, skydiving, whale watching, swimming with seals, adventure boating, kloofing, kayaking, etc.
  • Getting personal support from the volunteer coordinator.
  • Making new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

Born out of a general passion for animals and horses in specific, this horse trail operation was established in 2012 and has since grown to be the leading recreational horse-riding trail operator in the general Bitou region. The operation team of permanent  staff and volunteers manage all day to day aspects related to its herd of between 30-40 horses, plus permaculture farming activities. This project is based on a 60ha farm in the beautiful Crags area. One of the objectives at the project is to provide a safe haven and happy home to rescued horses. The project works closely with the Horse Rescue Foundation and has a holistic approach to horse care. As these horses don’t trust humans when they come to the farm, they need to offer psychological support and rebuild human-horse trust. The horses also receive physical therapy and get checked daily.

The horses are selected for their good composition and gentle temperaments, encouraged through continuous therapy and attention. They are well loved and kept in tip-top condition. The farm runs daily tours every day of the year, from an hour indigenous forest tour to a full day tour to nearby tourism attractions. These tours provide an experience in the Tsitsikamma area as well as diverse activities in The Crags on horseback or in the comfort of a horse drawn carriage.  Rides include trails through forest and farmland, grassy fields, indigenous Fynbos, local vineyards and old woodcutters’ forest trails against the magnificent backdrop of the nearby mountain foothills, in themselves a major attraction in the area. The focus is to ensure that the rides are suitable for all levels of experience – the emphasis being on a safe and enjoyable ride. Out on trail there are staging points where the horses get to graze and drink.

Your Role

You will work from Monday to Friday (8:00- 17:00). You will generally work five days per week and have the option of weekends off but may, due to personal interest, discuss the options of working weekends and public holidays on a roster system with the other staff. You will get a full orientation and introduction on the Monday after your arrival.

A possible work schedule could be:

  • 08:00 - 11:00: Assisting in feeding animals
  • 11:00 - 12:00: Assisting in getting horses ready for their trail rides
  • 12:00 - 13:00: Working in the organic garden
  • 13:00 - 14:00: Lunch
  • 14:00 - 15:00: Assisting in maintaining trails
  • 15:00 - 16:00: Checking horses and paddocks
  • 16:00 - 17:00: Assisting in horse therapy

Your roles and responsibilities:

  • Participating in farm work such as milking the cows and feeding farm animals
  • Assisting tour guides when and if needed
  • Working in the organic garden and related permaculture activities
  • Trail maintenance
  • Horse feeding, cleaning, de-ticking, grooming
  • Checking of horses before and after their rides
  • Trail assistance 
  • Paddock cleaning
  • Assisting with children’s rides
  • Assisting in building trust with rescued horses

You must not automatically expect to do selected tasks only (i.e. be riding for the majority of the time). You will do any and everything that all regular staff do, including, for example, horse-manure ‘pick-up patrol’. This is important as it demonstrates that the volunteer is viewed as a fully-fledged member of the team and thus contributes to the team effort and spirit.

Aside from this, there is a practical reason for collecting the horse-droppings; not only is the fly presence reduced but the droppings are a source of valuable nutrition for the compost required for the permaculture vegetable growing programme that not only provides fresh produce to the employees drawn from the nearby community, but are also for sale to other parties, including guest lodges

PLEASE NOTE: At no time will mistreating of horses or any other animals be accepted at this project and riding is at the discretion of the project supervisors.

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

You will stay in an accommodation venue based in The Crags, a rural suburb of greater Plettenberg Bay, about 25 minutes away from the main town of Plettenberg Bay. The property is set in a 5-hectare small-holding amidst indigenous forest and open grazing pastures.
You are accommodated in fully equipped shared double and/or dorm rooms and, where required, will be sharing with one or up to three other volunteers. There are numerous bathrooms for communal access and use. The main homestead is equipped with an office, TV lounge, two kitchens plus a large verandah, with a residents’ bar, and two fire-hearths for those chilly nights. It is here that guests and hosts gather for social interaction and where evening meals are served for all to enjoy. Immediately adjacent is an outdoor braai (BBQ) area (frequently fired up for the Friday evening meal), while close by is a golf practice putting green and a proper boule/petanque track where guests soon get to know their co-guests.
Bedding is provided and you are free to use the washing machine when you wish to launder your clothing. Free WiFi is available at the main homestead area only.

Testimonials

Johanna from Austria

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„I have wanted to visit South Africa for many years and it was open for foreigners regarding the Covid Situation. Everything was amazing and I loved the accomodation and the owners, I felt so welcome there! Mac was amazing too and Robyn and her team at the stable! I will never forget galopping on a field through Kurland during sunset. I will highly recommend GHV because it is a once in a lifetime experience and it is really awesome!!“

Aied from Kuwait

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"Gaining a wide range of experience relevant to numerous species of wildlife was fantastic! Also, the hands-on opportunities allowed me to effectively acquire knowledge while contributing to animal health which was extremely rewarding. Furthermore, the accommodation and food arrangements were excellent as well even though I volunteered during the pandemic. I would definitely recommend Good Hope Volunteers to anyone who would like to make an impact pertaining to animal welfare or conservation.”

Christina Loeser

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"I've been having a lot of fun working with the horses and my colleagues were very friendly to me, and I feel like I was a part of it.”

Julie from France

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“It was the most beautiful experience in my life. I met some people who were just incredible and the Horse Trail Experience is really an amazing place for a volunteer mission. They give you the opportunity to do a lot of the thing if you prove you're a strong person. The people are really friendly and lovely and I will miss everything.”

Océane from France

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"I spent 2 months at the Horse Trail Experience, 2 months which were very rewarding as I could work with horses that have been rescued who all have their own little character and I was lucky to be able to work with a young mare which was blind in one eye. I contributed to all the tasks like the employees, who immediately integrated me in their team. I was also able to assist the guides regularly during the trails."