Indigenous Horse Riding is a newly affiliated and recognised equestrian sporting discipline in South Africa that offers a fun environment for any equestrian enthusiast in search of something different… which promises loads of excitement.

Sechaba Seotlolla and his horse Kolomane

Melissa Reynolds, Development and Training Manager of the South African Indigenous Horse Riding Association explains more.

Indigenous Horse Riding is a riding discipline, which takes months and even years of preparation to get a horse to the top level to compete in the more advance divisions.

Indigenous Horse Riding is a gaited horse riding discipline; a gaited horse will do a four-beat gait where each foot will hit the ground individually. A horse that is gaiting will appear smoother than a horse that is trotting. The trot has more bounce in it, where an ambling gait will look like the horse is gliding. It requires extensive training over a long period of time for a horse to achieve the perfect movement and balance, all of this, at an incredible fast speed around the track.

“Tripel”(as it is known in Afrikaans), racking, pacing, single-footing (internationally) is simply a term used to describe the footfall of a horse's hooves . A true “tripel” horse performs an even timed, four beat gait from a relaxed trail riding gait to the ground covering “tripel” in which the horse is moving with one foot on the ground at a time.

10 111, owned by Ntate Lebitso and ridden by Rantoko Ramanehella

What is unique to the horses competing in Indigenous Horse Riding is their broad range of speed and their natural ability to remain smooth and consistent from a slow gait all the way up to the fast gait. Some of these horses are capable of reaching and exceeding exhilarating speeds of 48 kilometres per hour or more. Trainers work diligently for many years to produce an exceptional gaited horse, with the focus of the horse moving smoothly, safely, swiftly and in style. Swiftly, being the prevailing difference.

Horses competing in Indigenous Horse Riding come in all shapes, colours and sizes and originate from a strong background of horses bred for working. What is most important is how those four hooves hit the ground and how fast a horse can go at a “tripel”.

Indigenous Horse Riding horses should ideally have a great temperament, a willing nature, and must be easy to handle and manage. These horses should also demonstrate an even timed, four beat gait with a broad range of speed. Horses must have the ability to perform this gait and range of speed naturally without the aid of weight or action devices, all of this whilst being barefoot or no more than a keg shoe on all four feet.

Indigenous Horse Riding has multiple talented female riders involved in the sport. This age-old equestrian sport is just as enjoyable for ladies as it is for men. Most Indigenous Horse Riding events that are hosted across the country, include events for women as well as kids under 18 years of age so that the sport can be enjoyed by the whole family. There is a variety of divisions for riders and horses competing, ranging from novice to more advances horses.

A huge part of the development and growth of Indigenous Horse Riding has been the education and training of riders and owners on the importance of care and welfare of all working horses. The project started in January 2019, in collaboration with the Brook Innovation Fund of the United Kingdom and has been successful to date. Indigenous Horse Riding is now also affiliated to the South African Equestrian Federation.

Gustsus Roux of the Free State Equestrian Federation, Wessel Strauss of the South Africa Equestrian Federation, Gerda Liebenberg President of the South African Indigenous Horse Riding Association and Melissa Reynolds Development and Training of the South African Indigenous Horse Riding Association. This meeting took place in Botshabelo, as part of the affiliation process to SAEF.

The Indigenous Horse Riding Association of South Africa is committed to continued education and training of horse riders and owners and strives to take the sport from strength to strength.

To find out more about Indigenous Horse Riding, please feel free to get in touch with the Indigenous Horse Riding Association of South Africa,

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