We follow the New Zealand Code of Practice for Horse Trekking which means all customers are offered a helmet and there is at least one experienced guide for every 10 customers. The trek leader and guides are identified by wearing orange or yellow day-glow vests. On larger treks they are assisted by extra volunteer guides, trainee guides or other staff who might not be wearing vests.
The trek leader gives a demonstration riding lesson prior to customers getting on their horses. This is done at about 9.45am and 12.45pm. Please make sure that you arrive in time for the lesson and follow the instructions of the guides.
The trek leader and guides select horses based on information provided by customers about their ability, as well as their size, weight and age (for children). Overstating your experience, requesting a specific horse, or declining the horse selected for you could result in a less than ideal match.
Horses do behave differently with different riders. Sometimes we will swap riders onto a different horse during a trek if they seem to be not getting along.
For rider comfort and safety most horses have stock saddles which help you to stay balanced. Most small saddles have a ‘pommel’ which is like a handle on the front of the saddle. These are generally allocated to children to give them something extra to hold onto. Some of the horses have general purpose (GP) saddles which more experienced riders will be accustomed to.
During the trek
The guide at the front leads the way and the guide at the back makes sure nobody gets left behind. On larger treks there will also be other guides circulating.
All children 12 and under must be accompanied on the trek by a responsible parent or guardian 18 years or older (walking or riding).
Children 5 and under are too young to go on our treks. Children over 5 must be able to climb onto the horse from our mounting block willingly and without being helped or crying. This demonstrates their physical capability and courage to manage a horse trek.
Parents/guardians are expected to take charge of managing their children's behaviour at all times, particularly if their child becomes distressed.
Trotting, cantering, galloping and jumping
We recognise that experienced riders and some brave beginners want to do more than walk. We advise that this increases the chances of falling off but give adults the personal choice based on their knowledge of their confidence and ability. Children will need the permission of their parents or guardian.
We have selected specific places for these activities where we can split the group with one guide holding back the beginner riders with another guide leading the run and bringing it to a stop. This is usually in the second hour of a two hour trek, when riders have got used to their horses and guides have had time to assess people’s ability. Sometimes if the ground is too wet or the wind is too strong we are not able to offer this opportunity.
Jumping is especially difficult to master without falling off but experienced riders may get an opportunity to jump small logs of around 30cm – 40cm.
Weight and fitness
The ability to stay balanced on a horse is affected by a person’s level of fitness, balance, and body mass. Note that the largest saddle size is 46cm (18 inches) from front to back which can be uncomfortably tight for the more generous behinds.
We have a weight limit of 100kg for all riders.
It is very difficult for our horses to run safely with an unbalanced or heavy rider, so please don't be offended if we ask you to stay with the group that are walking. We need to look after our horses too.
If you have a medical condition that may affect you during the trek it is advisable to tell the trek leader. If you have a prosthetic leg please tell the trek leader who will ensure an appropriate horse is selected. People with hip and knee replacements commonly ride, however you need to be aware of the risks involved in falling, and of your level of flexibility to sit in a saddle. People with diabetes sometimes underestimate the amount of energy expended riding a horse so put a few jellybeans in your pocket and advise a guide if you feel unwell. If you are unsure whether you are medically fit to ride a horse please seek the guidance of your medical practitioner.
As with all adventure activities there is the possibility of losing your balance. We advise that you discuss this with your medical professional to assist you in making an informed decision. If you do not have much horse riding experience and are in the later stages of pregnancy the risk of losing your balance is quite high.
The trek leader and guides will administer first aid if required. Please advise a guide if you require medical assistance. We also have four-wheel drive rescue vehicles in the very rare event that someone feels they are not able to make it back to base on their horse or on foot. A spare guide or a family member can stay with you while the trek returns to base and a vehicle is collected. The lead guide carries a cell phone and radio so they have the ability to call an ambulance if one is required.
Respect your horse
We ask that customers respect our horses and remember that they are sensitive live animals with feelings. We do not allow whips, spurs, excessive unnecessary kicking, consistently hauling hard on the reins or “dragging” a horse around by its mouth. Customers who abuse their horse or refuse to comply with the requests of the guides may be asked to get off and walk at the discretion of the trek leader.