Horse trails in Cinsta, Eastern Cape.

The last time I went horse-riding was at the age of 11.  I went for lessons, got to the cantering stage and stopped not long after to pursue dancing.  Today I hopped back on a horse and stayed there for 2 and a half hours.  My peppered horse’s name was Dusty and he was an absolute darling.  It turns out he was the friendliest of the group of horses out on the trail in Cinsta.  About ten of us set out with one of the Cinsta Horse owners, Asher, as our leader.

It was three o’clock and with the sun high in the sky, hats on and sunblock applied, we rode from the base of the Newhampshire Equine Rehabilitation Centre in Cinsta West.  Asher was out in front, with me following on the compliant Dusty close behind.  My boyfriend got the unruly Freddy who seemed to not like any of the others horses.  Unlike Dusty, he veered closely to the bushes, had an aggressive go at a fellow horse, Chief, and jumped at unexpected moments.

I was totally relieved that I had swopped my shorts for tights, as the very first five minutes saw us scraping against thorn trees and thistle bushes.  After my initial shriek, I decided to ignore the prickles and just enjoy the ride overlooking the sea and colourful clothing left out to dry beside the informal houses made of corrugated iron.

Once off the quiet road, we reached the beach and slowly manoeuvred our way across rocks, past my Dad who was fishing, sun worshippers and surfers.  The steep dune towered to our left with the breaking waves on our right.  The horses happily meandered on in the heat and I continued to sweat, attempting to balance my camera and take photos of the other riders.  I could let go of the reins and snap away whilst easy-going Dusty followed the black, Fresian beast in front.

Away from the crowds, we were shown how to squeeze our knees in, push our heels down and trot until we reached the fishermen.  Beach-goers took photos of us, children stared and dogs barked at the sight of the horses.  On the secluded stretch of sand, we were allowed to really dig in and canter.  Dusty, however, didn’t need to be asked twice and begun galloping at quite a pace.  By now, my bum bone was taking strain and coupled with the Nikon banging against my side, I missed the slow going.  Just a little. But the faster we went, the more free I felt.

Once we had a break, allowed the horses to rest and wet our feet, we were on our way past the lagoon, over the wooden bridge and through Buccaneers Backpackers.  The more experienced riders took their horses into the shallow lagoon and both rider and horse got a chance to cool off. Once in the bush, Asher instructed us to duck beneath the spider webs weaving in the low branches above our heads.  I happily obliged at the sight of the red, Kite spider.  

I leaned forward and tucked my feet in as we made it up a steep climb.  Gone was the cool sea breeze and mist rising off the ocean.  Now we rode towards the sun with green grass, palm trees and thornbushes all around.  The hills were covered in moss-like vegetation and as we reached the top, we took one last look of the spectacular view over the plunging valley and the coast below.

Cinsta Horses do way more than just horse trails and also rescue mistreated and injured horses and rehabilitate them until they’re in tip top riding condition.  Due to the three owners not being able to afford extra hands on the farm, they get volunteers from around the world to live, work and help with the horses.  One young, Brasilian volunteer was studying to be a vet and learnt a lot about horses and treating them whilst helping out on the farm.  A couple from the UK found the experience so rewarding when comparing it to a regular vacation and felt so free away from the office and amongst the wild, South Africa’s people and the horses.

There were green, rolling hills for as far as the eyes could see and it was breathtaking to experience it all from a horse's back.  At tough parts of the trail, I felt sorry for my horse, but our guide told me that when they’re not riding for a while, they lose weight and pine for the trails.  After that I was happy I could allow him to be out and about.  When my legs felt the prickle of the passing thistle, I knew the end was near.  We crossed the road and let the horses roam freely.  I was a bundle of bliss, sadly my legs and bum had not returned unscathed.  The thistle made me legs well up in red, itchy bumps, but all it took was some antihistamine and sunblock to calm it down.  We waved goodbye and I thanked Dusty for the trip.  

For more information on Cintsa Horses visit