Coming soon: Gallop across Seychelles’ white sandy beaches
Turquoise Horse Trails offers beach rides, sunset picnics, swimming with horses, photo shoots and riding lessons. ( Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A new horse riding facility on Seychelles’ main island will allow visitors and residents to ride across the nation’s white, sandy beaches and even swim in crystal blue waters with horses.
Turquoise Horse Trails imported seven Appaloosa horses — a breed marked by bright spots that Native Americans in the United States once rode — for their new stable in Barbarons, on the western side of the Seychelles’ main island of Mahe.
|Damien Dryer rides his stud stallion Angelos at low tide on Barbarons Beach. ( Damien Dryer) Photo License: CC-BY|
South African husband and wife team Damien and Tamara Dreyer visited Seychelles and fell in love with the 115-island nation during their 2013 honeymoon. The couple had been thinking about leaving South Africa because of political turmoil to find their happily ever after.
“I grew up in Africa, I love Africa. I love everything about it, and Seychelles is like Africa but with the friendliest of people and the most beautiful of sceneries. I thought ‘Why don’t we just move here?’” Damien Dreyer told SNA during an interview.
Though Turquoise Horse Trails will not open until March, the couple is already taking bookings through their Facebook page and website. They offer beach rides, sunset picnics, swimming with horses, photo shoots and riding lessons.
The horse center charges tourists $70 an hour for a horse ride on the beach. Seychelles’ residents will pay $37 per hour. A horse riding lesson costs between $15 and $26.
Owners of a stud farm in South Africa, the Dreyers approached the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB) with their plan and learned about a former horse project at Barbarons. They soon after bought the land.
|Turquoise Horse Trails will not allow bits, spurs, or any kind of force on the horses ( Salifa Magnan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The Dreyers sold their South African farm and moved their prize-winning horses, which were kept in quarantine a total of 90 days.
“The flight to Seychelles and the quarantine here were quite stressful for the horses, so we haven’t tried to force the issue to start. This is a long term, lifelong project so we are rather taking it easy in the sense that we are making sure that the horses are acclimatizing, are getting settled, are not stressed and getting back to training,” explained Damien Dreyer.
Appaloosa horses, a spotty equine breed, are the descendants of horses bred and prized for their leopard-like spots by the Nez Perce, a Native American tribe from the U.S. state of Idaho. Today, the Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds of horse in the U.S. and is recognized for its speed and agility, but most of all for its placid temperament.
Damien Dreyer brought in a Malawian groom to work with the horses — “not to take away work from the Seychellois “ but because of the handler’s experience, Dreyer said, who noted that he would train locals in the craft.
To ensure the horses are well treated, Turquoise Horse Trails will not allow bits, spurs, or any kind of force on the horse, Damien Dreyer said.
Feeding the horses is a challenge because of a lack of locally available nutritious feed; the Dreyers import food from South Africa. Grasses are grown locally and fed to the horse every two days.
Horses vs. turtles
Horse rides on the beach can have an extremely negative impact on turtle nesting. For this reason, horse rides will take place at low tide.
Excrement is collected and sent to the centre’s compost pit to be turned into manure. Farmers in the vicinity are already using the animal waste, which Dreyer said is “basically just grass with lots of good bacteria and microorganisms.”
Turquoise Horse Trails held an opening day launch in late January at the AVANI Resort & Spa. Dreyer said he and his wife “have also done a beach cleanup with AVANI to make the Seychelles more beautiful.”