Horse riding at Flametree Stables
To most people, horse riding isn’t a workout because they think the horse does all the work. But straddling a large animal with a mind and agenda on its own is a full body workout that will engage your mind and muscles. Riding horses regularly has its health benefits such as coordination, flexibility, balance and stability much as it’s a fun activity to indulge in.
Step one to riding a horse if you don’t own one, is to find a good horse riding stable.
Throw in Flametree horse stables and riding school which is one of the four public stables in Uganda located in Kijabijjo Village, Gayaza Road. Flametree Stables have been in existence for four years now and belong to Peter and Miranda Bowser who are both equestrians plus their daughter Katie Bowser. Getting to Flametree stables is quite easy. If you are using public transport, take a matatu (1,500 UGX) from the Gayaza stage right next to Mapeera house along Kampala Road. When you reach Gayaza town, take a motorbike (boda boda) to Kijabijjo village which is the next town after Gayaza. All you have to do is tell the ‘boda’ guys that you are going to the horse stables or ‘kumbalasi’. When you reach Kijabijjo town you branch onto a dirt road to your left, in between the shops. Drive straight while keeping an eye out for a small signpost marked “Flametree Stables and Riding School”, make a sharp turn to your right and there you’ll see it in all its gloriousness. The journey from Gayaza town to Flametree Stables is about 6Kms.
The first thing you notice when you reach Flametree Stables is the lush, green vegetation around you, horses and foals in the paddocks made of wood, the sand arena, the practice area for more experienced riders and the clean stables. Most of the stables have a plaque on the door with the name of the horse and the owner of the horse. I say owner because you see Flametree Stables allows horse owners who don’t have personal stables, to keep their horses at their stables for a fee and you get a discount every time your horse is rode by their students.
Robin Kasumba who is the stable manager and instructor and has experience of more than 16 years in handling horses explains that for the rookies, riding a horse is comparable to learning to drive a car. Whereas for a car, you are in control of a machine and with a horse you are in control of an animal. He runs me through a few tips on horse riding for beginners. Endeavor to have the right gear for riding horses, wear tight denim pants and boots suitably. Try to know your horse, know what the horse likes and what it doesn’t like or what might startle the horse and create a bond with the horse you are going to ride. Pat it on the neck and feed it some water if you can. He further explains that you shouldn’t ride a horse on an empty stomach so eat something before you ride. Make sure you have no stress because horses can feel when a rider is tense and being the unpredictable animals they are, anything can happen. When handling a horse, always stand on the left hand side and hold it by the saddle. Never feed a horse right from your hands but from your palm. The reason for this is that the way the dental structure of the horse was created; it can easily bite off your fingers. Never stand behind a horse because it can get startled and receiving a kick from an 800 Kilogram animal would leave any human in bad shape. He goes on further to say that no rider should think they know everything because even Olympic riders have lessons and are always improving and need support.
“Depending on your weight, age and riding experience, here at Flametree Stables the instructors will choose for you which horse to ride. For example: a horse like Chickadde is good for rookie riders” said Robin the stable manager.With more than 25 horses, two foals and still counting, most of their horses were imported from Kenya seeing horses aren’t native to Uganda. They have started a breeding progamme at the 20 acre spread of land where the stables are and the breeding progamme will in the future provide horses for sale.
Flametree Stables is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 2PM to 5PM and closed on Monday’s. Their horse riding lessons last a standard 45 minutes and can extend to one hour depending on how many riders are present on any given day. To attract more riders to the stables, they have a special offer that gives a discount to a number of riders, the maximum being 3. The more people in a group, the cheaper the lessons and horse rides are.
Their hourly ride descriptions and prices are as follows:
45 Minutes – 1 hour (Week days)
They have a variety of options for this gentle, beginner lesson. A private lesson during the week costs 75,000 UGX for one rider. A shared lesson of two is discounted at 40,000 UGX each rider. A maximum group lesson of 3 riders is discounted at 35,000 UGX each rider.
45 Minutes – 1 hour (Weekends)
A private lesson on the weekend costs 80,000 UGX per rider. A shared lesson of two is discounted at 45,000 UGX for each rider. A maximum group lesson of 3 riders is discounted at 40,000 UGX each rider.
20 Minute Pony Ride
Take an easy and fun horseback ride and circle around the 20 acre property. This is recommended for families and it is a fun activity for bonding. Each rider is charged 25,000 UGX.
1½ Hour trial rides/ Hacking (Week days & weekends)
Take a fun horseback ride for a 1 hour tour ride around Kijabijjo village. They promise you that this ride has it all and is more fun for both learners and experienced riders. It costs 75,000 UGX per rider. 2 hour trial rides cost 85,000 UGX per rider.
Flametree Stables doesn’t provide food or drinks at the moment, so you are allowed to take your own food and drinks and you can hold picnics at the stables. For those looking to hold functions, parties and corporate events at the stables, they have a catering company (Equator Catering) that will provide food and drinks for you.
In this era and age of smart phones and the internet, it is imperative to check the weather forecast to see if the weather conditions will be favorable for riding.
For horse riding/ lesson reservations at Flametree Stables and Riding School, you can reach them by:
Mobile: +256 (0) 776 70 06 97
Photo Credit: Sarah Banabe