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“It was an exhilarating experience to be so close with animals I had only viewed from a game view vehicle and the silence was so intense that I could hear the animals chewing the grass as our group walked by.” Guest quote

At Mabula Game Lodge guests can view the wildlife in a variety of different ways. Aside from motorized drives on either a game viewer or quad bike, one of the more unusual methods is a horseback safari. And no wonder as Mara Ihlenfeldt, Mabula Ecoadventure trails manager is passionate about her horses and the enjoyment that they bring to young and old alike.

Going out on a horseback safari is a totally different experience for guests that visit Mabula Game Lodge. Firstly, our visitors can get much closer to wildlife and, as they can only smell the horses that pose no threat to them. And secondly, much like when visitors are in a vehicle, they are viewed as part of the horse and therefore also not a threat. The interaction between horse, rider and the wildlife will be like no other and these interactive sightings will allow the species being viewed to continue their daily routine, without it affected by the sound of an engine or the crunch of the tires on the terrain.

“Even though it was my first experience on horseback, I was totally relaxed and as a result, I was able to enjoy the experience without being nervous.”  Guest JR

The silence as horse and rider pass giraffe, zebra, buffalo, and even cheetah allows the riders to truly enjoy their time in the saddle, secure in the knowledge that the horses are so well-schooled that they will protect their rider even in a buffalo charge.

“Being able to leave the road and head off into the bush to look for animals was an experience that I will never forget. The horse was not even startled by the aardvark that we found snuffling around for food.” Guest CS

To put potential visitors at ease the 16 horses (some of which have been on the property for 13 years) that are utilized are very well schooled and seeing that many guests cannot ride (or this is their first time on a horse) the training of the animals can take up to a year. Seeing that the safety and enjoyment of the experience of each guest are paramount, Mara will take time to match horses with potential riders.

To make certain that the experience is an enjoyable one for all concerned, the horses are schooled to neither canter nor gallop and they do not bolt back to the stables when returning from a ride. In keeping with the calm and relaxed nature of the herd at Mabula, only geldings are utilized.

And for those who believe that they are riding across the plains of the USA, you would be mistaken as the saddles being used are from the Australian outback.

And it is not only the guests that get to enjoy the horses. Mara has used them to help children with certain disabilities as well as having school groups from the community attend to learn about horses and not to be fearful of them.

Being horses that spend their time in the bush and on gravel roads, they do not have shoes and the ground acts as a natural file to keep the hooves trim and in a healthy condition.

Each of the horses has an individual and unique personality, like Cody who has taught himself to open the lock on his stable door.

“The giraffe were so inquisitive that not only did they stop to watch us, they even followed us for a short while. A memory that will last for a lifetime” Guest HW

The horses, like field guides, work in shifts. 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off

Three rides per day can accommodate 8 people per outing and last about 2 hours, 30 minutes of that time being dedicated to a comprehensive safety briefing.

One of the most asked questions currently is “Has been any discernable change in the attitude of the horses since lockdown, as a result of not being ridden regularly”? And the answer is a simple “No”. The horses go about their same daily routine whether there are guests or not

“I cannot wait to return and ride again; this is an experience that every guest should get to enjoy” Guest CF

So, when you book your next trip to Mabula Game Lodge, make certain that you sign up for a ride to make your trip even more memorable.