I’m on a Horse (on Noordhoek Beach)

Cape Town Bucket List: One of the unexpected benefits of being an Airbnb host is that I have been able to do some very touristy things in Cape Town under the guise of showing guests around – like going horseback riding on Noordhoek beach – #13 on my Cape Town Bucket List.

Look, that’s me. I AM ON A HORSE!!!

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And for those of you not familiar with this pop culture reference:

Along with TJ and Lauren – a young Canadian Airbnb couple – I set off on a sunny Saturday morning to conquer my fear of horses. (Well, maybe not quite a “fear” of horses as much as a distrust of any animal with that much muscle tone.)

After a quick and delicious pitstop at Hout Bay’s version of the Old Biscuit Mill, the Bay Harbour Market, we headed off to Sleepy Hollow Beach Rides.

Highlights:

Upon our arrival at Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding in Noordhoek, we were tasked with finding suitable riding boots and helmets. Unfortunately there were no sexy riding boots in my size and instead I got shafted with pretty butch-looking ankle boots (everyone knows big girls should not wear ankle boots – c’mon!!!). But somehow I still felt like I pulled off the look – mainly due to my side plait.

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Looking like I was born to ride 🙂

Our instructors could sense my fear/ distrust of horses from a mile away – I mean I cannot help that I had so many questions and what-if scenarios to run by them 🙂

As a result I got paired with Cognac – the one-eyed horse – a good, reliable horse who likes to kick it at the back of the group (sound familiar?). He also likes grass so much that they had given him shortened reins – making it impossible to reach the grass. Basically Cognac is my spirit animal.  (And it kind of made me wish I could find a similar apparatus to prevent food from getting into my mouth too).

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Strolling onto Noordhoek Beach

Turns out most (okay, all) of my fears were unfounded. These horses ride themselves – slotting into order and walking single file without any human intervention.

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Single file along the beach

The only times I had to tug on the reins was to alert Cognac that we were approaching the rear of the horse in front of us (shame he only has one eye man) and to get Cognac going again when he eventually managed to get hold of some long grasses.

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Experience:

I am not the world’s biggest animal lover – this title certainly belongs to my zoologist sister (who is off at sea watching whales and dolphins right now). But this experience made me feel so close to nature. There is something so special about trusting such a powerful animal so completely. And something so magical about the very human qualities these animals have.

If you are after a wild, “Brokeback” ride then Sleepy Hollow and their uber-chilled horses probably won’t do the trick. But for beginners and gentle creatures, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Logistics:

I can definitely recommend Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding – the instructors are all knowledgeable and experienced trial guides and seem to have a great understanding of people and horses alike. Plus it seems like they really take great care of these lovely animals.

Need to know

  • Age limit: 12 years to 65 years of age
  • Weight limit: no persons over 95 kg
  • Experience required: none
  • Almost everyone is a novice (< 100 rides)
  • The ride is mostly a walk (no galloping allowed)

Opening times

  • There are three beach rides a day.
  • Rides start at 09:00, 13:00 and 16:00.
  • Rides are for approximately 2 hours (just enough).
  • Booking is essential.
  • Arrive 30 minutes prior to start time to kit up.

Costs

  • R450 per person
  • For some reason they do not accept credit cards – so it is only cash or debit cards for payments on the day.

Getting to Noordhoek

  • For detailed directions click here.
  • Unfortunately the MyCiti bus will only get you as far as Hout Bay, so if you are visiting Cape Town try to combine the horse ride with other activities on the days you rent a car.
  • Alternatively, take the MyCiti bus to Hout Bay and then Uber it the rest of the way.

Bring this

  • Riding hats and closed, secure shoes with a small heel are compulsory but provided by Sleepy Hollow,
  • Wear long pants – I feel like this is kind of obvious, but hey.
  • Bring a warm top – it is often windy on the beach.
  • Remember the sunblock especially for the 13:00 ride.
  • Bring sunnies – the white sand can be blinding.
  • No fancy cameras or bags go on the ride. If you want to bring a camera, I suggest using the GoPro for this.