I heard about African Dream Horse Safari through a friend. I had been searching for a while for a place that could help me to put my Equine skills and Field Guiding skills together and had found nothing… at all! So with tentative steps I sent ADHS an email and had a thorough look at their website. I liked what I saw and within the next few days I had booked myself for two weeks in the African bush!
I arrived late Sunday afternoon and (being rather stale from the drive up) was shown to my room and a shower. Later on I was introduced to a pair of girls who had come all the way from chilly England for a holiday and together Traci went through the itinerary with us. I must say I was impressed. Not only was everything printed and ready, but we even had a brochure and price list of the various activities Hoedspruit could offer us.
Everyday seemed to have one horse and bush related activity slotted in, but as we came to see everything was flexible. An hour trail ride that halfway through turned into a swim in the dam with the horses. An afternoon game drive that turned into a walk to track two rhino enjoying themselves on the riverbank. It was these changes of plan that made things interesting and enjoyable.
Throughout those two weeks I learnt a vast amount about the bush and trail guiding on horseback. Most importantly though, I was taught how to put them together in a safe, but exciting way. In my second week, in what would soon become known as ‘Emergency Monday’, I was thrown into the deep end. I had been told that morning that I would be tested on my First Aid during the trail. With the help of (Eliza and Jen) the two English girls, Shannon and some livery clients I was tested on Acacia scratches to the eyes, asthma attacks, lame horses and scared clients to name but a few of the emergencies. The daunting part of that trail was that I had no idea what would go wrong or when. It was this kind of practical training mixed together with some theory that helped to prepare me for my assessment. To supplement my bush knowledge we were taken on game drives and walks in a Big 5 area.
During all this preparation there was a lot of effort from the Thomson family to introduce us to the Hoedspruit way of life and to explore the surrounding area. We spent our Friday nights having supper out in the town and exploring the local watering hole. We were taken to spend a night sleeping under the stars on the mountain and the next day to swim (or swing) in the river. You could spend your weekend relaxing at the Bush Camp or out sampling some of the delights Hoedspruit has to offer. The mixture of work and play, I found, helped me not to be too stressed about the upcoming assessment, but still focused on what I needed to know.
All in all, I not only enjoyed my stay immensely, I also passed my assessment and qualified to become a horse guide in a non-dangerous game area!
To Traci, Glen and everyone at African Dream, thank you for your bush knowledge, horse etiquette and patience!
To Eliza, Jen and Rachel thank you for your calming ‘holiday’ spirit.
Written by Merlin (South Africa)