The 2 months that have disappeared
I arrived in Kande at the end of November 2015, riding hat in hand and a feeling of nervous excitement in my belly. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but I knew I loved horses and I knew I loved Africa and therefore making the journey to Malawi was bound to be a good decision. I couldn’t have been more right. I was due to spend just one month with Kande Horse but ended up extending my volunteer program for a further month and seeing in the New Year on the beach. It was safe to say I was in love with lake life.
It’s hard to write down a ‘typical’ day as one of the great things I’ve always found about working with horses is every day is different. However, my main responsibilities included helping to care for the horses day to day needs and any specialized medical care. I learnt how a horse yard runs and operates, particularly in an African environment where resources can be scarce and improvisation necessary! I would aid in grooming and preparing any horses that were being used for guest rides, meeting and greeting guests, accompanying them on rides as either a lead or back-up guide and of course official photographer when assisting with the bare-back swim at the end.
On quieter days, the manager Nancy and I worked with the horses in the arena, particularly Kande’s two youngest, to train, build them up and produce comfortable and responsive trail horses. When we didn’t have guests we would take the horses out exploring through the Malawi forests and down to the beach as good practice for some of the youngsters and to keep them exercised.
I also had a lot of fun working with the grooms in the arena to improve their riding. It was incredibly rewarding to see their impressively fast progress over the two months I was with them. The team at Kande are good fun and the guys are always smiling, even if it was just laughing at my attempted Chichawa. The management couple Nancy and Neil are also awesome which always helps!
It’s not a particular aspect that can be pin-pointed (except perhaps ticking swimming with horses off the bucket list!) which made me adore life in Malawi but the whole package. Waking up each morning in the gorgeous farmhouse and grounds, watching the sun rise through the trees as the horses munch their breakfast, meant you always woke up with a smile. The days then spent outside, in the sunshine, working with horses and in such incredible settings; be it the lake, the lush forests or even picking up some groceries in the village, just flew by. In the evenings we’d either sit out eating under the stars, go down for sundowners at Kande Beach Backpackers, watch films in the cozy living room or just read in bed – enjoying that beautifully exhausted feeling you only get from a day spent working outdoors.
All the elements that made up the Kande Horse experience of life on the lake with horses meant it was a truly special 2 months and I will be very sad to be saying goodbye. I learnt a lot, not only about horses but also the life and culture of rural Africa and made some unforgettable memories. I would definitely recommend to anyone who is looking to escape and adventure into a little African bubble of horses and beautiful places.