There are all manner of wonderful ways to explore all of what Boschendal has to offer, and experiencing the farm on horseback is definitely a firm favourite.
Head Groomsman, Jakes Mbalula, is the gentleman who makes it all happen. Jakes started at Boschendal in 2015, first as a bartender and then moving across to head up the horse riding experience. He came to the position with a wealth of experience, having practically grown up in the saddle. As a boy back home in the Free State he would herd the family sheep and cattle bareback and admits he revelled in the task. “I’ve always loved horses,” he says, clearly passionate about what he does and the animals he works with every day.
After a brief stint working in the mining sector, he moved to Cape Town in 1991 and took various interesting jobs within the equine industry. Over the years Jakes has worked with horses in many different ways, from shepherding as a young man to travelling around the country with dressage and showjumping teams to make sure horses looked and felt their best for events. “Each job is such a pleasure, especially when there are horses involved!” he grins.
Jakes spends his days fussing over his charges, ensuring their every need is met, that the tack is well-maintained and that they’re always ready for a ride. “The Boschendal environment is like paradise for them, and me!” he laughs. “As an experience guide, I get to show off the beauty of this valley in a unique way.” Horses walk the route and outrides that can be up to three hours in duration, are a tranquil experience, easily managed by novice riders and young children. It’s a memorable way for guests to explore the lesser-seen parts of this working farm. Tracks traverse through unspoiled nature, conservation areas, past vineyards, fynbos and orchards, ending up with a trot past the lush gardens, the Werf area and the historic Rhone Homestead.
One of the most charming and popular experiences that Jakes leads is the one-hour trip in the 19th century landau carriage, ably pulled by the royal Friesian pair. The carriage is a delightful throwback to a bygone era and as always, Boschendal has taken great care to preserve the tradition. It’s a magical experience for young and old.
“I love it at Boschendal”, concludes Jakes. “I feel at home here and it’s my favourite place to be, for the people and for my horses.”