“Equestrian” isn’t a word that springs to mind when listing sports activities in White River. Nonetheless, there is a lively, if small, horsey set stabled around town. Commercial yards (such as Nottinghill and Uplands) are supplemented by several private yards in the area.
One of these private yards belongs to the Spangenberg family, all keen horsemen. Their daughter Megan is a passionate and competitive rider who also organises local riding clinics. The clinics bring dressage and show-jumping instructors from around the country to White River, coaching local riders and helping them to improve their skills.
There are about 80 riders in White River, roughly half of them are keen show jumper riders but the three main riding disciplines, cross country, dressage and show jumping are all followed locally. To ride competitively, riders have to be members of the South African Equestrian Foundation (www.saef.org.za) and to participate in horse shows at graded venues. There are three such venues in Nelspruit but Uplands is White River’s only graded venue and hosts both dressage and show- jumping events. Uplands is a pony-mad child’s dream school – they can stable their four-legged friend at school and ride every day.
Megan recently loaned her beloved Shire horse, Gift, to a physiotherapist treating a child with Spinal Bifida. Displaying impeccable equine intuition, Gift adjusted his natural gait and responses to suit his novice rider perfectly and this experience has proved to Megan that horseback riding can successfully leap beyond a competitive activity or casual fun to play a role in therapy. She’d like to combine her Pilates instructor skills with riding and offer core training with a difference!
www.sashowjumping.co.za Lowveld Equestrian Club (also on FB)