Tag Archives: polocrosse horses

Pessoa Rein~ Georgina Roberts



As helpful as gadgets may be, there is no replacement for good schooling and conditioning. Both horses and riders ultimately need to learn how to balance themselves, develop correct muscles for sustained quality, with the rider developing accurate sensitive aids. Artificial aids can assist where there is a fundamental problem and the rider is less than experienced, helping to speed this process up by allowing both parties to get the correct feel for such work. Never assume that your groom knows how to use a specific gadget – always be educated and supervise their use.


The Pessoa Rein is the only full-body gadget, i.e. does not focus solely on the neck and head position. It cannot be used while riding, but is highly effective on the lunge. It works by teaching the horse body awareness, connection from back to front, suppleness, lightness, and to push and engage the hindleg. 


It is particularly effective for horses that struggle to work through and over the back, whilst staying light in the contact. Try imagine it as teaching the horse to be “contained” in a forward bubble of movement; the second the horse leans on the bit, it will literally pull its own hindquarter further under itself. If it pushes out instead of under with the hindleg, it will immediately feel the light pressure of the rope around the hindquarter; it will also pull slightly on the bit, which is why it is important to instill the forwardness from the ground, that they never learn to correct “backwards”. It one of the best aids to use for regular lunging, and once the handler knows how to fit it very little adjusting is needed in a session – all that the handler needs be responsible for is maintaining the ratio of balance and forward tempo, and knowing which rope goes where!


There are several different fittings for the Pessoa, depending on the horse’s level of training. By far the most common way for attachment is pictured: above the hock, clipped midway on the surcingle, through the bit rings, ending between the front legs. This encourages the horse to work rounder and lower, stretching the topline to encourage the “rugby ball” shape. With a more experienced and balanced horse, they can warm up like this and then have the end clips moved up to the top of the surcingle to simulate the position of the riders hands, encouraging the horse to work in a slightly more uphill frame through the wither, while still in self-carriage and pushing from behind.


The feeling of containment, whilst one that we encourage more and more throughout a horse’s life, is initially a very claustrophobic one for a flight animal. Too tight, and the horse may panic and throw itself over. Too loose, and the dangly ropes are not only ineffective but a tangling risk.

Horses can learn to lean quite comfortably on themselves and may need to be pushed forward more to lighten in front. On the other side, a horse that is particularly shy in the contact will tuck his nose in and suck away from the bit, not pushing forward, as he might not like the lack of steady pressure on the mouth.

The Pessoa, being on a pulley system, can also slide a little to the horse’s favourite side. It may need to be shifted back into the correct place when changing rein, and if the horse consistently shifts it due to severe one-sidedness, then long-reining (where the handler can control the straightness directly) will be a better option.

Horses also commonly kick out at the feeling of something toughing their hocks – try not to panic, but gently push them forward. If they are reluctant to go forward, make sure that it is not too tight to begin with that they feel they can “go somewhere”, and try maintain the rhythm until the horse relaxes into the frame. If the horse wants to shoot forward away from the back rope try keeping his head bent slightly in towards you and not letting the circle get too big. If the horse is particularly sensitive about his hindquarters you can desensitise him first by lunging with a crepe bandage tied from the girth, around the hindquarters, and back to the girth. This arrangement will not change pressure with the frame, thus allowing them to get comfortable and confident working like that before upgrading to the Pessoa.


Colour code the ropes in the beginning if you have trouble remembering which goes where! Also remember to only put it on once in the lunging arena in case the horse does panic. The ends of the ropes can tend to fray, so to ensure longevity tape them. Make sure the pulleys turn easily and don’t jam, and once you and your horse are confident, don’t be shy to experiment with other settings: it’s a great way to develop an eye for how small changes can alter the biomechanics of your horse.

Namibia from the back of a horse

Namibia from the back of a horse – a unique kind of safari Almost everyone has been on some sort of African safari; few get to do so from the back of a horse in one of the most breath-taking environments on the planet, the Namib Desert. From the dramatic landscapes of Damaraland, the great plains of the central Namib, and the biodiversity of the Fish River Canyon, we are privileged to ride in extraordinarily diverse environments. The Namib has an indescribable yet very tangible appeal to both nature-lover and soul-seeker alike and what better way to explore this wild beauty than on horseback? With over 20 years of experience in perfecting mobile riding safaris, Namibia Horse Safari Company has specialised in extreme but infinitely rewarding riding experiences.



Covering up to 300 km in 8 days over rough desert terrain, these challenging riding safaris are certainly not for the unfit or inexperienced rider. But for those who are confident and fit enough to ride any type of horse, this is possibly the most thrilling riding you will ever experience. Wide open spaces invite long, long canters – sometimes with zebra or ostrich racing alongside the horses. There is enough space to breathe, time to enjoy the natural beauty and the silence…. that is precious. Comments by guests often express the inadequacy of words in describing the sheer majesty of these impressive landscapes – especially the joy of no phones, computers or TV for a whole week. Another frequent comment is that this is the ‘reset button for your soul’ – and guests have been known to make extraordinary changes in their lives after one of these riding safaris. Stripped bare of seemingly unnecessary complexity, these hauntingly beautiful places remind us of how vulnerable we are in such extreme environments and of how supremely adapted the animals and plants are which survive this wild desolation. Long mystified by poets and mystics, deserts often evoke an ineffable feeling that invites a much more broad-minded approach to life. For those brave enough to allow a radical shift in perspective, enlightening experiences have known to happen. Days on safari are leisurely; beginning at sunrise with the comforting aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen and horses quietly nickering for their nosebags. We keep pace with the westward orientated sun, reaching our overnight camp in time for chilled sundowner drinks. The delight of a hot shower at the end of an exciting days riding is simply heaven.



Nights spent sleeping under the splendid Milky Way with picketed horses quietly eating nearby have an indescribable magic about them. Warm duck down bedrolls keep even the winter chill out and although tents are provided on request, it seems a shame to sleep in a tent when such magnificent night skies are on offer. Campfire camaraderie and the lasting bond between horse and rider often linger long after you have left the desert. So addictive is the appeal of these extraordinary rides that 60 % of our guests are repeats and some have completed up to ten safaris. They almost always ask for the same horse and of course we are happy to oblige. Our plucky horses are wonderfully adapted to life on safari. Bred and raised on rough mountain terrain, they come from mixed stock including German sport horses, quarter horses, Arabs and of course the supremely adapted Boerperd. Calm on a picket-line, yet forward going and willing, they do their job well and always seem to have more to give. For the comfort of both horse and rider we use skirted endurance saddles which are best suited to the challenges of desert terrain. The saddles also provide for the tying-on of shed fleeces as the days warm up, only to be untied again as winter evening temperature rapidly drops Deserts can be unpredictable places and any self-respecting desert rat will know that dressing in layers is the sensible way to survive the Namib’s surprises. To make the most of these unique riding experiences, it is best to come well prepared. Spending up to six hours in the saddle without being riding fit to begin with can be rather a surprise to both horse and rider alike. At times the going gets rough and you will be required to get off and lead your horse through the tricky bits. However, there are always friendly crew on hand to help, including with saddling and the care of your horse while on trail. One crew member who is always fondly remembered by guests is our ever-smiling chef Vincent. Proficient at producing remarkable cuisine over an open campfire, the creations he produces from his three-legged potjie’s will surprise and delight the palate. It is our mission to make these remarkable safaris available to horse lovers from the SADC regions and to this end we are planning a special Namib Desert Safari in October 2017. Aimed at endurance riders, this will be an opportunity to test your and your horse’s metal on these incredible rides.

For enquiries please contact us on email:info@namibiahorsesafari.com


And so another group of picketed horses watch as eager riders, full of expectation, arrives at their first desert campsite. In the hush of evening the sun sinks into the distant sea of sand and a lone jackal calls in the distance. This sublime Namib.