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18 July 2011

A little info about my job

I live and work in the Sunny city of Durban in the southern most tip of Africa in a country named South Africa. I am sure you have heard of it, maybe even visited or lived in it.
When I tell people that I work with tourists, I guess what goes through their minds is working in a travel agency, or maybe a hotel concierge. But the truth is, my job is a lot more fun than either of those careers , not that there is anything the matter with those.

Let me give you a little taste of the great job I have. I am a guide and advertiser for Horseback Beach Adventures.
For starters, it’s generally an afternoon only thing, which means unless I really have something planned, I get to sleep in. And being a holiday activity, its mostly a weekends thing. Then, I only deal with clients half of the time, the rest of the time I am dealing with animals.
So my work day usually starts with finding the one horse that lives close by in the homestead, putting a saddle and bridle onto him, and going out into the bundus to find the herd of 15 horses that graze out in the fields. It normally takes me about half an hour to find them and herd them back home. Once we get home, myself and the other guides get together and put out feed for all the horses in their stalls. They come in to eat and we start brushing them and getting them ready to be ridden while they are eating. As soon the horses are done eating we take them out to drink some water, then to the tying up area to put their saddles and bridles on.

By this time its close to 2pm and the clients have normally arrived. So we get them signed in and fit them with correctly fitting riding hats. When the clients (riders) originally booked in we assigned them each a horse according to their weights and any previous horse riding experience they may have had, so once they have their helmets on, we get them onto their assigned horse. Then comes the pre-flight pre-ride basic instructions and check, where we make sure that each rider is able to make their horse go, stop and turn. We don’t give all the in detailed instructions that professional horse riders need to know as 90% of our riders will not ride a horse again for the next few months up to a couple of years. However those that come again to us, we always endeavor to teach them something new.

Finally then it is time to hit the road! We ride out through a bush trail that most people who come are surprised exists in the Durban area, as this is supposedly a concrete jungle, but you just have to look a little deeper to notice. We often get to see various interesting birds, like Goliath Herons, Grey Herons, Crowned Cranes, Fish Eagles, Long Crested Eagles, Hammerkops, Brown Hooded Kingfishers, and many more. We also get to see small wildlife, the Vervet monkeys are commonly sighted everywhere in Durban, including on our rides, as well as sightings of Banded Mongoose and Nile Water Monitors (a small version of a crocodile that eats frogs and crabs).
All this time I’m chatting with the riders, it’s always nice meeting the new people from all over the world, also as guides we are constantly making sure all the riders are OK, keeping up with the group, not falling off and so on. We have to cross a road and go past a few small factories, but fortunately the horses are all so used the noises and traffic that we pass and so they don’t get frights too easily. And then just as suddenly as we entered the 500m of industrial area, we leave it into a calm park. It is just one of the diverse things that I so love about South Africa, and Durban in particular.
We pass through the park and onto a serene beach. There are often fishermen and
bathers there, but we all have the right to be on the beach and so we are friendly and courteous to all. If the riders have got enough experience, we pick up the pace, if not, we keep a calm and enjoyable walk along the beach. If it is as the right time of the year, we get sightings of dolphins and whales. At our halfway point we normally climb off to rest our legs and have some light refreshments. Then we take the saddles off the horses and take them down to the water’s edge where they like to roll in the sand and the shallows. And then we com home, in winter we normally get to see gorgeous sunsets on our way home.
Once we get home, we untack the horses, they have a roll and we put them back out to their paddocks.
And such is the basics of my job. But that is all I have time to describe for now. More to come soon on the various aspects and details of my job.

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