Do you think you could manage this? Amazing images from one of the toughest rides out there

  • On 16 October 2018, the second ever KTC Race the Wild Coast took place. Described as a “new breed of horse race”, riders with a team of three horses raced over 350km on the remote east coast of South Africa.

    Horses and riders were required to swim, climb mountain sides and descend down cliff faces while keeping horses fit for vet checks.

    Katy Willings kindly blogged for Horse & Hound in the run-up to and after the race, sharing with us the ups and downs of the gruelling challenge.

    Here are some pictures, taken by Daniela Zondagh, that Katy has shared with us of the truly unique endurance race…

    1. Riding Zerango into the first night stop at 8.20pm at night after two hours in the dark which felt like an eternity

    2.Coastal riding is NOT the same as beach riding! Every beach we accessed involved getting up and over huge headlands like this one, picking our way up and then down again over cliffs and technical tracks

    3. Wet, slippery rocks and sharp descents made for slow going. Evidently much less scary on four legs than two, because the horses just took it in their stride every time, picking brilliant routes, never so much as tugging on their lead reins

    4. The weather did heat up in the last day and a half and I finished with lips so badly sun and wind burned that I could barely speak the day after. However the first half of the race was ridden, on the whole, in pelting rain and moody skies, which added to the technical and also the mental challenge. It reminded me of a rough day on the Golden Horseshoe on Exmoor — serious country, in serious weather. We were rarely cold however, the strenuous activity saw to that. And the scenery was truly glorious. I vividly remember struggling with a cliff ascent which dangled us right out over the Indian Ocean, and Courtney, who I rode most of the race with, saying “whale breaching”, and sure enough, in the surf out to our left if we could just find the headspace to look up, were multiple whales. That was quite a consolation. So much of the natural beauty that surrounded us was lost on us, ransomed as we were to the GPS and our immediate challenges. We did see the back-up helicopter multiple times each day, ferrying vets and farriers, and as evidenced by these incredible photos, Daniela the photographer. One of those occasions that definitely looked much better than it felt.

    5. Swimming the dramatic Mthatha River — I am second fro the right, and if you look closely, am directly behind my horse Kwacha’s head — still above the saddle in fact. This meant that I could easily wriggle back onto the saddle as his hooves found the floor again, and we walked up and out of the water as horse and rider. I loved this technique, and would definitely recommend it to the more vertically challenged Rocketeers in future.

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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