WITH 80m of beach to go, a gentle ridge of softer sand, then a sharp ascent up a dune path, Jono called it: everyone up for a final gallop?
My three boys were game, so we gave it stick: a few paces on the trot, a brief canter – then kicking into a full-blown gallop.
We raced up and over that dune faster than you could sing Nkosi sikelel’ i Afrika, carried on a super-charged thrust of horse-power, leaving us breathless and exhilarated.
None of us are accomplished horsemen, and my kids have only ridden half a dozen times. But they had hard hats on, and I was comfortable with Jono’s assessment of their ability to stick on.
It was a fantastic experience.
Jono Arnott is the owner of Beachcomber Horse Trails, which offers a range of different horse-riding options. The standard trail, which we took, takes you from the Beachcomber corral near Boknes, where you saddle up, past a lovely big pan, over the dunes and onto Kwaaihoek Beach.
The pan is full of birdlife and just ambling past we saw coots, ducks, heron and an African jacana, unmistakable in its smart brown and white pinafore, stepping across the lilies with its wide splayed feet.
On the beach, it’s easy to think one can just set off. But Jono explained the importance of staying behind his lead horse and not loosening our reins too much. Alternately walking, trotting and cantering, we rode south towards Kwaaihoek promontory, the bright sunshine glinting off the deep blue sea on our left.
Our party included a young man and his mom. He lives in England, where he works as a subway manager. It was a very different world to this, he agreed with a laugh.
Up on the promontory looking down, we had a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful patterns and shapes of rocks and pools exposed by low tide.
Up on the bluff next to the path, Jono pointed out the hop-along spoor of a hairy-footed gerbil, a little nocturnal creature, something like a cross between a springhare and a field mouse, which occurs on this part of the Eastern Cape coast, and nowhere else in the world.
If ever you need reminding why it’s great living in South Africa – take a ride on the wild side with Beachcomber Horse Trails.