Meet our German agent, Saskia

Meet our German agent, Saskia

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We are delighted to welcome German-based agent Saskia to our growing Equus family. In addition to being a globetrotter and experienced rider with her own horses at home, Saskia brings a wealth of safari experience to the team and loves nothing more than talk about Africa and horse safari  adventures! 

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and riders?

Hello fellow horse travel enthusiasts! My name is Saskia von Sperber and  I am a horsey and travel-mad artist from Germany. I was born and educated in Germany and started to ride at the age of 6. I spent a year in Australia, travelling and working as a Jillaroo, before my journey took me to Africa: training horses in Namibia and working with various safari operators in Africa. In 2014, I returned to Germany and now live here with my young children and an assortment of dogs and horses, enjoying hunting and teaching children to ride.

You have travelled far and wide and had the opportunity to work for several safari outfitters in Southern Africa. What horse safari guides have you worked for?

I have worked for what was Reitsafari Namibia back then – now the Namibia Horse Safari Company, the team that organises our trail rides in Namibia. I subsequently worked for Limpopo Horse safari with Louise (Tuli Trail), Horizon Horseback (Horizon Ranch, African Explorer) and Okavango Horse Safaris (Kujwana).

This must have been a very special experience – can you tell us more about it?  Would you change anything about it?

 I spent 10 years working in the horse safari industry in Africa and absolutely loved it - it was hard work and it threw many challenges at me but I am very grateful for everything I had the chance to experience and learn. Some of my best friends are former work colleges and former clients and  I will treasure those years for the rest of my life.

Guiding horse safaris in Africa
Guiding horse safaris in Africa

What brought you to Africa in the first place? What inspired you to travel and work with horses?

It was all a bit of a coincidence really - I got the opportunity to work with horses on a farm in Namibia. Having always wanted to travel to Africa I decided to take it and within two week, I knew that Africa was for me!

You kept returning to Africa throughout the years… What is it about Africa/the bush that you love so much?

Apart form the incredible wildlife, mind-blowing landscapes, adventures in abundance and the chance to meet the most fun and interesting people, you mean :-)? I just have a very strong sense of belonging in Africa - it just feels like home.

You are a qualified Field guide – what does this entail and where did you take the exam?

In a nutshell you get taught how to bring back your safari guests alive and well :-) You learn about fauna and flora, tracking skills, how to handle a rifle, and how to show and teach your guests about the wildlife without causing any or at least very little disturbance - basically the idea is to give your guests a fantastic time in the wild without getting them into danger - and should something dangerous arise how to get you all out of trouble.

What other safaris have you been on, and what is your most memorable moment from your travels through Africa?

I have been on riding safaris in the Fish river canyon and Bushmanland, Damaraland and Caprivi in Namibia. I also travelled quite extensively through South Africa and Botswana - apart form the horse Safaris I worked for, I rode with David Foot who guides the Okavango Mobile safari and Kalahari ride. I also stayed at Macatoo in the Okavango Delta, and did quite a few Jeep , walking and canoe safaris throughout Botswana - both organised or just myself or with friends. I also spent a season working for a safari camp in South Luangwa, Zambia.

There were many, many memorable moments but crossing the Namib desert for the first time was somewhat of an epiphany. I also remember a cold , crisp morning in Mashatu (Botswana) watching two big elephant bulls fighting in a dry riverbed from horseback - an incredibly sight. Some close encounters with lions, elephants and buffalos I shall never forget, but I think the most special moment was galloping alongside a herd of buffalo in the Okavango Delta.

Riding in Mashatu, Botswana
Riding in Mashatu, Botswana

Have you been on non-safari riding holidays?

I have done some trail riding in Canada, USA, Poland and Spain.

What rides (safari and non-safari!) are on your bucket list?

Kenya, Rajasthan in India, and hunting in England and Ireland!

Tell us about your horses at home!

I am lucky enough to own the world’s best Shetland pony who is my children’s best friend - he was the logical consequence to a positive pregnancy test. I bought him off the side of the road as a two year old and I love him to bits. He is very small, very fat but is incredibly patient and kind and we have a lot of fun with him.

I lost my rather eccentric but brilliant and much loved Trakehner mare last fall but was lucky enough to get a lovely little TB mare from Ireland. She’s a very, very moody mare but has a super work ethic and will basically do anything you ask her to do as long as you mean it! She’s only 5 now but I m planning to take her hunting next year. Named her Safari - as I like saying “I’m on Safari!“.

Hunting at home in Germany
Hunting at home in Germany

In addition to being an experienced rider and horse-owner, you are also an artist. Most of your work seems to be inspired by Africa – can you tell us more about your artwork?

Well, while living in Africa I certainly was most inspired by the beauty around me but nowadays I paint mainly horses -and fat ponies- as well as hounds. I discovered hunting over the past few years at it seems to be the next best thing to a horse riding safari ;-) and so of my paintings are very hunt-inspired these days!

What essential advice would you give to someone going on a horse safari/a riding holiday?

To be rather modest about your riding ability. Since you will ride a horse you don’t know, with potentially different tack than what you ride in at home, you may feel a bit out of your depth so rather choose to be underhorsed then  overhorsed. And to bring your sense of humour on holiday!!!

How do you feel about joining the team at Equus Journeys? :)  

Like opening a bottle of bubbly :-)