- Where Barn Banter Goes Global
Please support

Wild Coast Ride, part 1

Published: 1/4/2013
View comments
Editor’s Note: Nicky Hoseck works on a farm and as a guide for Wild Coast Horseback Adventures, an outfit in South Africa. Over the past several years, she’s racked up over 3,000 miles of guiding.
Her most exciting miles came last month when she joined Barry Armitage and Joe Dawson (of the Adventurists fame) on one of their wild treks.
Follow Nicky in this four-part series as the group travel about 120 miles, from the mouth of the Mngazi River to the mouth of the Kei River.

By Nicky Hoseck
Everything at the farm this month has paled in significance when weighed against the incomparable thrill of the The Ride’s Wild Coast Adventure which I embarked on with Barry Armitage and Joe Dawson of The Ride last week. Joining us was Victor Kee, who has spent many years taking clients riding over southwest England. As it turned out, we were a pretty invincible team… well, not so pretty but definitely invincible!
So, our mission was to cover 120 miles of stunning Wild Coast terrain in six days, departing from Mngazi River, north of Coffee Bay, and ending in Kei Mouth. The first leg of our journey was to trailer the horses up to the starting point.
Our departure day dawned hot with strong winds, not making for the best conditions, but Julie-Anne and Clint drove on valiantly and we arrived in time to set up camp (for both horses and humans) and head out on a short orientation ride.
While this ride did little to prepare us for what was to come, it did give us a taste of the beautiful scenery and breathtaking vistas that the Wild Coast had in store for us. After an evening spent getting to know one another, I left the party watching themselves on TV, and snuck off to my deflatable mattress for a shoddy night’s sleep.
With only a short distance to cover on the first day, we allowed a significant amount of time for Barry to faff – something that would become as regular as coffee in the mornings to come – and then headed out on a bit of a stop start commencement to the day.

And what a ride!

This section was new to everyone and finding the correct path proved challenging – as did the path itself! Leading our horses, we scrambled along in knee-deep mud, fighting off the grabby branches and trying not to entangle ourselves or our horses in the numerous obstacles keen to hinder our progress.

After a hot and sweaty start to our ride, the terrain became slightly less exacting and we arrived at our first stop, The Kraal, in time for a spot of lunch and well-deserved swim in the warm waters of the Mpande river. An afternoon sojourn to the local shebeen (unofficial tavern) gave all the chance to kick back, relax and soak up the friendliness and hospitality of the Xhosa people.
Read Part Two: Day Three saw us covering about 30 miles from The Kraal to Mdumbi – it also presented us with our first big river swim...

View Reader Comments:

add your comment
1/4/2013 Joan Muller
While this sounds more like a recreational situation than a cross-country endurance trek, I'd still like to learn (1) how the horses are being provisioned during the trip (are they grazing along the way, or packing their own grub, or feeding at a pre-arranged spot where feed has been left); (2) how they are shod or not shod; and (3) how medical precautions are handled (vaccinations needed for the area, potential hazards in the terrain or from weather). It sounds very inviting!
1/5/2013 Nicky Hoseck
Hi everyone. In response to Joan Muller's comments, firstly, the horses are all barefoot. The challenging terrain and salt water really make shoeing unfeasible - and against our philosophy. We have a back up vehicle that meets us at each stop point and carries vast amounts of horse feed and equipment. The horses work hard so need supplement feeding to keep their energy up. Also, the long hours in the saddle reduce their grazing time considerably. Our horses are vaccinated against African Horse Sickness and we carry medicine with us to treat anything that may arise, from bilhari to cuts and rubs. Potential hazards are really not a huge concern. We ride according to the tides so cross rivers on low or incoming tides to reduce the risk there. Riders also have inflatable buoyancy aids to use during the crossings. The weather here is such that our biggest issues are strong winds, heavy rains and heat. The horses are tough and the weather conditions really do not usually present an enormous problem. Barry and Joe have a lot of experience so know how to cross a flooded river with the minimum of risk. Hope that answers your question and thank you for your interest and comments.
1/9/2013 Editor
Nicky adds: Bilhari is a tick borne disease which attacks the red blood cells. It is serious but easily treatable. African Horse Sickness is a nasty midge-borne virus much like malaria. There are 9 different strains and it attacks the inflammatory system, causing internal swelling and can result in death within a few hours. We are currently experiencing an outbreak in our area and there are 35 horses dead in 4 weeks! It?s hectic! We vaccinate but it is not 100% protection although we have recently discovered a very effective treatment and, if we catch it early enough, we do seem to be able to save most horses

"In the language of the range, to say that somebody is "as smart as a cutting horse" is to say that he is smarter than a Philadelphia lawyer,smarter than a steel trap, smarter than a coyote, smarter than a Harvard graduate - all combined. There just can't be anything smarter than a smart cutting horse. He can do everything but talk Meskin - and he understands that." - Joe M. Evans, A Corral Full of Stories