The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 began with a talk on Save The Waterberg Rhino who will receive 50% of funds raised on the ride to increase security in the area.
While the rhino themselves were resting under a tree, the riders gathered to embark on an afternoon ride across Ant’s Nest game reserve to gain an understanding of the area.
The route was planned by Ant Baber, who would use his experience to lead the challenge ride over the next six days. Everyone had been in training, working on their fitness.
The horse managers at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill had carefully chosen and prepared horses for each rider. They needed to be young and hardy enough to cope with the challenge.
Some riders had found vented hot-weather helmets and wore gloves to keep off the sun. Long-distance McClellen saddles were used with specialist neoprene numnas.
It was magical to be riding through the African bushveldt. Being high summer in South Africa, everything was green and the dams were filling after last year’s drought.
The riders soon came across a number of giraffe browsing on blooming acacia.
A mature adult male giraffe was happy to let us get fairly close.
As the horses normally graze out on the reserve, the wild animals are used to their presence.
We let the horses browse to reassure the wildlife that all was well.
The riders moved on to see zebra, wildebeest, warthog and a variety of antelope.
Ant Baber was also able to show us his breeding herd of Cape buffalo that tend to prefer thick bush.
This would normally be a rare sighting but the animals were peaceful and behaved naturally.
We then picked up speed and managed to cover quite a bit of ground.
It was not a hard ride but we learnt a great deal and got used to dodging thorn trees.
Riders ended up gathering at Ant Baber’s house to as the sun went down to learn more about Save The Waterberg Rhino and the anti-poaching initiatives currently in place.
Here they could observe a number of white rhino who arrived with a few warthog in tow.
It was an opportunity to met some of the armed security guards who watch over the rhino around the clock and are in contact with the South African police.