|The beauty of horse riding holidays is that you travel in small groups and are in very close contact with your environment. This means close and personal contact with nature and the people who live there too enabling us to both learn about and contribute to the communities we visit.
As tourists visiting other cultures on a riding holiday we should ensure:
1. We do no harm to local environment or communities
If you have booked any of our horse riding holidays and would like to give something extra towards the projects that they currently support then please let us know and we will add your donation to your ride payment.
Below are details of some of the projects supported by booking the holidays listed:
About Ant's Reserve Conservation projects and eco management:
If you are interested in booking a riding holiday at Ant's Reserve your holiday funds will support all the above projects. Any additional donations will be much appreciated.
Over the years Horizon has committed itself to various projects of upliftment within the broader community. They began on the ranch itself where there was a crèche facility and a farm school of about 95 primary aged children, funding resources and providing clothes etc to the poorer children. There are now many other programmes of upliftment within the area and they attempt to help these projects by contributing where they can as well as making guests aware of the needs of the African community. Over the years they have been able to affect these areas considerably through donations of money, educational tools, medicines and manpower. Many of the guests have become involved in these projects, for instance, on one occasion through a corporate teambuilding exercise they were able to renovate an old farm building into a youth and community center which is now a core of activity on the ranch. Below is a list of the many outreach activities that are going on quietly within their area that Horizon are involved with.
The Waterberg Welfare Society
St John The Baptist Soup Kitchen
African Community Outreach
Limpopo Educational Services
Xtreme Soccer Team
If you are interested in booking a riding holiday at Horizon Ranch you can visit any of these projects and your holiday funds will support all the above projects. Any additional donations will be much appreciated and you are able to specify which projects they should support.
The Somogy Nature Trail is organised and run by the Somogy Provincial Association for Nature Conservation – SPANC. Employment and nature conservation go hand-in-hand in the wetlands of southwest Hungary by preserving species and at the same time creating jobs.
Founded in 1980 as a traditional conservation organisation, more specifically to protect species such as the European otter and the white-tailed eagle, SPANC has evolved into a complex sustainable development programme. To protect the threatened species required their habitats to be protected, not just as separate tiles in a mosaic, but as a whole chain of habitats. This has gradually led to SPANC undertaking the sustainable development of the whole region, encompassing thousands of hectares extending from south of Lake Balaton to the River Dráva. This involves land acquisition, habitat management and protection, job training, preservation of historic buildings and traditions, education and ecotourism. Its sustainable farming and visitor services now also support 15 much-needed jobs.
History and Developemnt of SPANC
Following the political, economical and social changes of the 1970s, the Hungarian government agreed in 1974 to the establishment of the country’s first conservation NGO, the Hungarian Ornithological Society. Its popularity quickly grew, and in 1980 a local group was founded in Somogy County. A turning point came when, as a result of research on wetlands, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) decided to hold its conference on otter conservation in Kaposvár, the county town, and the Somogy group of the Hungarian Ornithological Society was one of the hosts. One of the conclusions of the conference was that the otter population of Somogy was of key importance for the species’ survival, and the government and NGOs should work together to ensure its protection.
Parallel with the otter protection activity, SPANC developed a ‘Black Stork and White-tailed Eagle Protection Programme’. From the beginning, one of the most important tasks was to protect the breeding sites of birds and other animals threatened by extinction in Europe. Artificial nests were constructed to encourage these endangered species to breed.
As time went on, the association realised that the only way to protect breeding sites from invasive agriculture was to buy them. And it became obvious that without the support of the local villagers no successful conservation work could be carried out. In order to secure their support, SPANC knew it would have to demonstrate the value of its work as a farmer and employer.
The association turns landowner:
With the purchase, the protection of some very important habitats – the fishponds between Nagybajom and Mesztegnyo – became possible. Then in 1991 the Boronka Landscape Protection Area was established and, in another first for Hungary, the ministry gave the association the task of managing it for conservation.
The association contacted the local authorities of the surrounding villages and explained the economic potential of ecotourism in the area. As a result a union of the villages surrounding the Landscape Protection Area was formed under the name of ‘Bridge over Boronka’. This was the start of the Somogy Wild Water Programme. The Boronka Landscape Protection Area now covers 8,000 hectares.
SPANC showed good political judgement, and survived political changes. In 1993,
By buying land during the process of privatisation, SPANC became the owner of the most significant wetland areas in Inner Somogy that connect Lake Balaton with the Dráva River. This chain of habitats functions as an ecological corridor between the two basins, providing the flow of genetic information needed to sustain biological diversity.
Fish, cattle and cultural heritage:
In 1996, to manage the meadows around Somogyfajsz that are the last remnants of the Hungarian acid sandy grasslands, SPANC bought nine Hungarian grey cattle, an
Sustainability means job creation:
The jobs it creates are important for local people, as the county of Somogy is one of the least populated parts of Hungary and from an economic standpoint is a very poor and disadvantaged region. In Somogyfajsz, 28% of the able-bodied population is unemployed. Given the fact that most of the local population is unskilled, in 1996 SPANC started the “Gypsies as land managers” project, supported by the PHARE-LIEN programme. The project had two objectives:
Through the extensive management of the fishponds owned by the organisation, the project created new and permanent jobs for gypsies and other economically deprived families. The project has reduced the gypsies’ social isolation and improved their economic situation. The nearly 500 hectares of fishponds provide work for 15 people, while conservation and livestock management jobs on the 250 hectares of grazing land also require a steady workforce. Today there are 25 families in the area, who earn their living while helping to protect nature.
All the association’s properties belong to the NATURA 2000 network. After the finalisation of the development projects, farming and ecotourism will make the operation totally self-sustaining. SPANC has thus managed to combine ecological sustainability with responsible land management:
• In the ponds, extensive fishing provides a food base and habitat for species which are connected to the ponds. The income from the fish farming covers the expenses of the management of the area, provides employment, and is reinvested in nature conservation;
• The acid sandy grassland is managed by grazing ancient Hungarian domestic
• The association introduces its visitors to the natural and cultural values of its reserves. Ecotourism creates employment possibilities for the local people, adding to their interest in the protection of the nature.
For the future, the association plans to install mini-hydro and solar energy plants, not only to generate renewable power but to demonstrate to the public that nuclear energy can be replaced with environmentally friendly methods.
If you choose to ride on our Somogy Nature Trail, your money goes directly to SPANC and you are accompanied by a nature guide along the entire route. The projects are explained in detail including a slide presentation one night.
R10 per rideris donated to visit the project and take part in the cultural activities. Guests are also encouraged to buy from the craft shop and also to leave a tip of between R50 and R100 per rider.
- On the route riders visit a local ‘trading store’ and are shown how this works for the community.
- The local community adjacent to Trennery's Hotel overnight stop is paid R10.00 per horse per night for use of their paddocks and the local community is paid R5.00 per horse to ride through ‘The Gates’.
- At Wavecrest Hotel overnight stop donations are made to the local Church.
- On the farm where the horses are based between rides, two self employment opportunities have been opened for people who live on the farm.
So all riders are educated about the local community, their needs, projects being undertaken to meet them and how thier horse ridnig holiday fits in. By allowing riders through their beautiful villages, rolling country side and stunning beaches communities are being developed and supported. Thus tourism gives value to their environment, ensuring that it will be valued and protected for many years to come.