Working Riding Holidays, South Africa

Are you looking to do something in your gap year?
Are you studying at an Equine college and need some practical experience?
Have you been thinking about taking a career break - just to see how the other half live?
Are you stuck in a rut and need to get out and experience life in rural Africa?
Do you just need to get away for a few days or a couple of weeks?

Join Wild Coast Horse Trails and Torstone Sport Horse Stud for a working holiday and wonderful learning experience on the Wild Coast of South Africa.

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in the water
river crossing
on the beach

Open to all levels and ages of adult horse-lovers, Sunray Farm, home of Wild Coast Horse Trails and Torstone Sport Horse Stud, offers a fun-filled holiday on a working farm, working and riding horses. Sharing the lifestyle of owners, Julie-Anne and Clint Gower, and their friendly team, you will stay on the farm, learn about the daily management of an equestrian establishment, work with young foals, school young horses, exercise the trail horses, assist and take out holiday riders on the beach rides, as well as ride the Wild Coast Horse Trail as an assistant trail groom. If you wish to, you can also give the children of the local farm labourers riding lessons. All meals and accommodation are free, and you will be riding every day, giving you the opportunity to improve your riding skills.

Working Riding Holiday at Sunray Farm

  • A real life African farm experience
  • All meals and accommodation
  • Daily horse riding
  • Open to adult horse-lovers over 16 years of age (candidates must be able to walk, trot and canter confidently. No other experience is necessary as you will be taught as you go along)

Clint and Julie-Anne invite you to come and stay with them at Sunray Farm where they offer a fun-filled holiday and a unique working riding opportunity on a farm on the Wild Coast of South Africa.

During your stay, you are sure to gain valuable equestrian experience, learning about alternative and natural horse care and you will spend many hours in the saddle improving your riding. You will have the opportunity to work with young foals and yearlings, and possibly start three-year-olds, as well as exercise and school the other riding horses.

The Wild Coast Horse Trails part of the business offers beach rides to holiday-makers and upmarket overnight trails to international clients, and on longer stays (minimum 4 weeks) you may be involved as an assistant groom on these trips. Capable volunteers are invited to give riding lessons to local disadvantaged children. The Gowers also compete in endurance riding. When all the jobs are done, and if there are no rides booked, you will have plenty of free time for the beach, game viewing, exploring the country and generally having a good time.

Sunray Farm has full time paid employees who look after the horses on a daily basis. The point of you being there is to do lots of riding, learn, help out and generally have fun. It is up to you to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. The more you participate, the more you will learn and the more you will take home with you.

A normal working day is from 8am to 5pm with an hour for lunch. You may occasionally have to start a little earlier and finish a little later to fit in with the clients and/or the horses. If it is very hot, for example, you might take a longer lunch and ride later in the cool of the evening. You will spend the morning caring, working, schooling and exercising the horses, and then go down to the beach with horses in the afternoon. There are always several horses that need exercising and young, up-and-coming horses need basic schooling in dressage and jumping.

While staying at Sunray Farm, you will be expected to participate in some or all of the following:

  • Grooming, bathing, and general care of the horses
  • Feeding when necessary
  • Cleaning tack and equipment
  • Working with the young foals and yearlings at Sunray Farm
  • Exercising and schooling horses at Sunray Farm
  • Exercising and care of the trail horses at Kei Mouth
  • Assisting with out-rides and trails at Kei Mouth

Sample itinerary for a 28 day holiday

The program is dependent on prevailing weather and bookings for overnight trails. This is just a guide as to what you can expect during your stay:

Week 1

The first few days are spent getting to know the team and the horses, and assessing your riding ability. You will be introduced to the routine of grooming and tacking up horses, taught about general riding safety, and how to conduct yourself while riding in a group and with clients.

Week 2

Preparation for the overnight trails includes cleaning and checking tack and equipment, transporting horses to the paddocks at Kei Mouth and bathing and grooming the horses for the start of trail.

The next seven days will be filled with great riding along the Wild Coast. You are expected to assist with feeding and care of the horse while on trail and to help out where needed.

Week 3

Once the trail is completed, the horses are brought back to the farm and all the tack will need stripping and cleaning to get rid of all the sand and sea salt. You will probably need a day in East London to do some shopping, see a movie and have lunch. We can also recommend having a day out at Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve where you can do a 4x4 safari and see the 'big 5', have lunch and visit the reserve’s tame elephants.

Week 4

If another trail is booked, you will help with the preparations, or otherwise you will have an opportunity to get hands-on experience doing some 'round pen' work, 'join up' and how to 'start' a young horse. A day ride along the beach is usually planned with a pub lunch at Seagulls.

Other options:

Short Stay Hands-on Working Riding Holiday

  • Dates are flexible and are intended for riders only wanting a week or two riding or those with only limited time or budget
  • Suitable for riders wanting an introduction to natural horsemanship
  • Does not include an overnight trail unless booked as per the set departure dates, itineraries and prices

4 weeks (28 days) Working Riding Holiday

  • Includes one 4 night/5 day trail along the Wild Coast
  • Suits riders of all levels (including novice riders) who would like a month-long horse riding experience
  • Riders need not have extensive experience, but should have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude to do new things
  • Includes 'join up' sessions, riding lessons, out rides on the farm and beach riding
  • Riders should arrive at least two weeks before the scheduled trail to enable us to get them on the right horse and ensure that they will be able to keep up on trail

6 weeks (42 days) Working Riding Holiday

  • Includes one 4 night/5 day trail along the Wild Coast
  • Recommended for riders wanting a more complete riding experience and who would really like to get into the horses and more intense riding
  • Includes 'join up' sessions, riding lessons, out rides on the farm and beach riding
  • Riders need not have extensive experience, but should have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude to do new things
  • Riders should arrive at least two weeks before the scheduled trail to enable us to get them on the right horse and ensure that they will be able to keep up on trail
  • There may be an opportunity to ride a second trail at a reduced rate (cost price)

Work Experience Training program 3 months (90 days) - Experienced riders only

Sunray Farm especially welcome students studying at a recognised equestrian college who need a 5-6 week period of work experience to assist in their studies. They will make special efforts to give you the opportunity to do practical work within the area you are studying.

  • Riders must be able to school horses and ride without supervision
  • Riders should have a sound knowledge of basic flatwork and be willing to ride and bring on young horses
  • Includes 'join up' session, riding lessons, out rides on the farm and beach riding
  • Riders will be taught how to 'start' a young horse with join up and other gentling techniques
  • Riders will be expected to assist with taking clients out on shorter beach rides
  • Riders will be given an opportunity to practice their teaching skills
  • Riders will be given an opportunity to go to and possibly ride at an endurance ride (in season)
  • Depending on your abilities and experience, we may ask you to ride as back up rider and groom on other trails
  • Opportunity will be given to riders to learn all aspects of the equine business
  • Riders should have a valid driver’s licence.
  • This is a excellent opportunity for riders to get experiential training in the equine tourism industry
  • They will be given a letter of reference to add to their resume on completion of their stay
  • Includes one 4 night/5 day trail along the Wild Coast

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