“It is only the whim and subjective opinion of man that values a horse at €1 or €1 million, all horses deserve to be cared for and protected regardless of what a man says they are worth.”
The horses at Faka Ranch are all special in their own individual and unique way, you see the majority of these horses are rescued, saved from a life that surely would’ve ended in slaughter. For many, they spent time entertaining the frequent race goers of Mauritius…….. every Saturday the race track at Port Louis is thronged with people cheering, betting and urging their chosen one to win. In this brutal sport, if the horse does well he is revered, placed upon a pedestal and earns his owners and trainers vast quantities of money. If the horse doesn’t succeed he is cast aside, sold or slaughtered in a conveyor belt fashion. In this competitive sport money talks, you have one chance to prove your worth, if you fail, there are many more waiting in the wings, time is not spent on those who don’t earn their keep and reap the riches of the track.
Thankfully there was light at the end of this dark, gloomy tunnel for these noble beauty’s in the guise of one man’s dream and passion to invite tourists to explore the magical island of Madagascar on horseback. And show these valiant steeds hung up their racing boots and came to live the life of a safari horse at Faka Ranch.
“Saving just one horse will not change the world……but surely it will change the world for that one horse.”
Sweep Forward raced in both South Africa and Mauritius before he came to live at Faka Ranch. The first horse I rode in Madagascar and one that is truly very hard to forget. He gave 110% at all times, he put so much of his heart and soul into everyday we rode. Strong and fast he challenged me at times but only because he gave so much of himself into his work. After a nice gallop around the Lake on our penultimate day together, I found it hard to understand why he wasn’t successful on the race track…….incredible speed and unbelievable acceleration, married with a competitive nature, surely a recipe for success………….but a twist of fate brought him to Faka Ranch and I was honoured to ride him.
Unfortunately Sweep Forward is no longer at Faka Ranch, he passed away in December 2016 after a bout of colic and despite enormous effort made from an incredible team, he was unable to be saved. His loss was tragic and serves to highlight the immense lack of veterinary resources and availability of medicines in Madagascar, another obstacle in a never-ending fight.
I like to think he is still galloping his heart out amongst the clouds, a wonderful, amazing, special horse, a true angel.
Although a lot of the horses at Faka Ranch have come from a racing background, there are also some locally breed horses…….and Cador is a local Malagasy Horse. The Malagasy Horse’s are a lot of fun to ride…….extremley tough they just get the job done, always on a mission, they never tire and walk with extreme purpose and intent……and they know the terrain and the ground so well, like mountain goats they never put a foot wrong.
Cador took me to the end of the world on the Coastal section of my first trip………super little horse who gave his all whether swimming through water or cantering along forest tracks. He is quiet opinionated and definitely knows his own mind, and although we didn’t always share the same opinion, we managed a compromise and rode as one. Cador performs his job to perfection and is a horse that will really take care of you on the trip. He is a true little star.
I first met Surprising Dream in July 2016, but I didn’t ride him until April 2017 and he really did surprise me! It really interests me how horses respond differently to different riders and different energies and Surprising Dream is a classic example of how horses respond to energy. The first time I met him he was being ridden by quite an in-experienced rider and he was a complete gentleman, the perfect beginners ride who really didn’t put a foot out of place, so when I decided to ride him in April I figured I’d be in for a pretty relaxed ride, I was definitely surprised…..he was a completely different horse to the one I remembered and I absolutely adored him! An ex -reachorse he may be, but I think Surprising Dream harboured a secret desire to be a hunting horse, he certainly showed bravery in facing any obstacle, scaling a vertical bank to avoid the mud was a personal favourite!!! This boy posesses incredible stamina, despite the heat and humidity, Surprising Dream was still full of beans at the end of our long days in the saddle and very eager to get moving every morning. Once we established our partnership and connection he was veryhappy to ride seperate to the group, enjoying nice long lengthy powerful canters with plenty of space to roam. An absolute pleasure to ride and a quick learner eager to please, he’s a horse that enjoys being ridden.