As soon as lockdown is lifted, we’ll be heading off to Karkloof Horse Adventures and we suggest you join us. We chatted to Katina who runs the business to find out more 🙂
Tell us a bit about Karkloof Horse Adventures. How many horses do you have? What kind of rides do you do? What level of riding do people need to have to be able to enjoy a ride with you? Do people stay nearby and how does it all work?
Karkloof Horse Adventures is a family run horse trail yard based in the majestic Karkloof valley just outside of Howick KZN. We have a total of 14 horses. Some of these horses are privately owned but we have agreements in place to utilise these horses in exchange for a reduced livery fee.
We have a variety of different trails on offer:
- We have an hour amble through the forest and surrounds for beginners. (R250 per person).
- Then we have a two hour advanced ride for the more adventurous rider. (R400 per person).
- Then we have a two hour ‘game ride’, which is for experienced riders only, as between the trot and a good canter, we hopefully spot some game surrounded by fantastic scenery on top of the escarpment. (R400 per person)
- We also offer a three hour ‘snack’ ride to Karkloof falls for all levels of riders. (R600 per person including snacks).
We thus cater with our rides for beginners right through to advanced riders and all are welcome! Pre-booking is essential for all rides, so that we can keep advanced riders separate from beginners and ensure that everyone gets to have a pleasant experience.
Being based in the Natal Midlands we have a variety of other activities for people right on our doorstep, as well as numerous accommodation establishments in the vicinity so most of our cliental are people coming through from other provinces on holiday. However, we also have people from our local community, who support us as well.
Tell us about your horses.
My daughter and I have started a small-scale SA Boerperd stud, so most of our trail horses are SA Boerperds. We fell in love with the breed about 15 years ago after working for different stud farms and showing, training and schooling horses. Since we started, we have never looked back. We are extremely passionate about our stud and horses. On the farm all the horses have a dual purpose – they do trail rides and then flaunt their dapples at showing shows in between, so they certainly earn their keep!
The guide’s horse for each ride differs depending on the type of ride. For a beginner ride I will mostly use my show mare Volmoed Jessie, as she has an incredible temperament. She is a 7 year old registered SA Boerperd. I bought her unbanked as a 3 year old based on her genetic lines. She arrived as a young ugly duckling and has turned into a princess. This is a mare who will go the extra mile for you. She is bold, easy going and safe!
For a more advanced ride, I will ride one of my pupil’s horses. Her name is Calista Loerie. She is certainly not for everyone and apart from me on the trail rides, she’s a one man horse! She is very quirky, hot, forward going and spunky so great fun for an advanced ride!
We then have Lejan Revenge (our school master). If I could clone this horse, I would! He’s one in a million. He’s the type of horse you can put a complete beginner or an advanced rider on, and he’ll give both exactly what they are looking for. He is a true gem of a boy and has taught many children the ropes. He’s been an eventer, a show jumper and now he is the most wonderful happy hack! He’s the true favourite of the yard and is lucky enough to be owned by one of my top pupils!
We thus have a variety of horses on offer, so it all depends on the type of booking and level of riding. The greatest joy I get, having organised trails for over 20 years, is matching someone’s personality to the right horse in a matter of minutes. It’s a gut feel and works most of the time! I love this part of the business.
How do you train your horses to make sure they are suitable for the rides?
The training process for our horses begins with either my daughter Echo Rain or myself long-lining and then ultimately backing the horses who will do trails. We then firmly believe in hacking the horses out for at least two to three months, as our guide horse along with a stable old timer. This way the horse learns to move forward and freely by themselves! All personality traits will show up quickly on the trail (e.g. shying, bucking etc) so we can quickly establish what type of trail horse they will be. Having said this our system has always worked, and we haven’t ended up with any unsuitable horses. Hacking the young horses out with the older school masters really does instil a calm-relaxed atmosphere that allows the youngsters to quickly learn the ropes. We never use a young unschooled horse on an advanced ride until they have a firm schooling foundation.
In addition, we are believers in bribery and corruption! After every ride all the horses get snacks -either carrots or a handful of concentrates – just as a way of saying thanks to them. This also provides a great way for them to interact with our guests at the end of the ride.
Who are your guides?
Depending on the ride either myself (Katina) or my daughter Echo will take out the trail. I tend to take out the more novice riders and children, where Echo enjoys the more advanced rides.
Echo could ride before she could walk (literally). Her life revolves around her horses and she has been competing since the age of 6 in all disciplines from eventing to show jumping to showing. She trains and backs the horses, amid giving lessons to our pupils. She is also a big favourite with the younger generation, being just 24 herself.
We are also in the process of training our groom Albert, as a guide. Currently he takes out all the pony riders on leads and loves working with the people and the horses. He’s such a jolly fellow and hopes to learn how to show jump. Albert has a great knack with the horses and a natural feel, and takes great pride in his work with the horses.
If we have a big group (six riders or more) we always have two guides on the ride. Our livery clients love to join us and will also assist on the rides if necessary.
We truly are blessed with fantastic outride country – we are spoilt for choice!
What made you decide to start this business? Who started it?
I started the horse trails in 2001 having brought my show jumper down with me from Johannesburg. I soon realised that my show jumper was not a massive fan of farm life so I started the hunt for more hardy horses, whilst also looking for a pony for my daughter. We found the horses, friends started coming for outrides and the whole business just grew from there!
Can people book now for after lockdown?
Currently we have a special running – if anyone purchases a voucher during lockdown for the R250 per hour amble, they will get an extra half an hour free.
How are you keeping busy during lockdown?
Farm life or owning a livery yard is always hard work, and there is never a dull moment. During lockdown, the horses are all having a well-deserved holiday and everyone is just enjoying being a happy paddock ornament. As for the guides – we are run off our feet cleaning, fixing and doing basic maintenance around the place. There’s certainly an eerie quiet at the yard at the moment, but we are enjoying the quiet time to get things done! I must say though that I do look forward to opening again and having clients and guests drive down our driveway.
Contact Karkloof Horse Adventures:
To get in touch and make your booking, please contact: