Netflix-inspired ‘Natural Horsemanship’ bond to open the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup

Netflix-inspired ‘Natural Horsemanship’ bond to open the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup
Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup

The power and resilience of horses will form an important part of this year’s Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup but it’s not just the sporting prowess that audiences will get to witness. The incredible bond between Zecks Samu and Viceroy – featuring in a Netflix series later this year – will captivate the crowd as they showcase ‘Natural Horsemanship’ as part of the World Cup’s Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, 17 July at KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban Shongweni Club. This is one of the many festival programme events taking place at the Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup from 17 to 28 July 2024.


Natural Horsemanship is the philosophy of working with horses based on the horse’s natural instincts and methods of communication. This prioritises building a foundation of trust between horse and rider through gentle interactions, and by focusing on clear communication and understanding.


The incredible bond fostered between the horse and handler is mesmerising to behold, and Zimbabwe-born Zecks Samu (43) will have crowds mesmerised as he puts Viceroy through his paces at the Opening Ceremony. But the story behind how these two came together makes the display even more impressive.


A Journey of Respect


Viceroy is based at Galloping Winds stable on the KZN North Coast. Liezel Mitchell, Viceroy’s owner, explained that she’d had a very bad accident riding Viceroy in 2011 and decided to stop riding. It coincided with the arrival of Zecks, who came to South Africa in search of a better life, and started as a groom before training under another Natural Horsemanship trainer in the area. Zecks was then introduced to Liezel who fortuitously connected him with Viceroy.


“The first issue I had with Viceroy was he didn’t want to box so my first call was to Zecks to see if he could get this very dominant horse into a horse box, which took a bit of skill and time, but Zecks managed to succeed,” she recalled.


“He asked if he could train Viceroy as I was no longer sure of my future with the horse. Zecks said from day one that Viceroy would not be an easy horse to train because of his dominant personality – or ‘horsenality’, and he would need a person who could match this while allowing Vicey to have a voice. It was a challenging journey as Vicey always pushed boundaries but it was a match made in heaven.”


Picking up the story, Zecks said he’d benefitted from some incredible Natural Horsemanship training over the years, enjoying the opportunities to travel to France, Belgium, and Guadeloupe to enhance his skills: “The bond that l have developed with Viceroy is through communication and understanding horse psychology. It’s patience and dedication to understanding the horse. It takes time to build trust and confidence with a horse, because of a dichotomy between humans as the ultimate predator and horses being the ultimate prey.”


For those interested in this field, Zecks said it’s all about passion: “You have to love the horse. Without that, it’s a non-starter. It takes patience, perseverance, and dedication to the craft because it’s not easy to build trust. But once the horse has opened its soul, there are no words to describe the feeling and how fulfilling it is to have conversations with the horse.”


While Viceroy has retired from eventing life, he has enjoyed a decade with Zecks, showcasing his talents to the equestrian world. The pair have performed in some of the most prestigious South African horse shows including Horse of the Year, the Easter Festival Showjumping, the Nissan Winter Classic, and more.


The incredible bond has garnered international attention with a US production company funding a Netflix series that will feature Viceroy later in the year. Zecks has also been invited to The Mustang Makeover in Europe where top horsemen showcase their skills by taming wild mustangs and building relationships with them.


2024 Ignition Group PWC Entertainment Programme


Guests attending the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup Opening Ceremony will get the chance to witness the incredible relationship between Zecks and Viceroy cultivated through love, communication and leadership. This forms part of a full programme of family-friendly events planned for this year’s Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup – outside of the polocrosse itself! The daily on-field entertainment includes:

  • Gumboot dancers, choirs and school marimba bands
  • Comedy by Aaron McIlroy and Lisa Bobbert
  • Music by Tanner Wareham, Qadasi & Maqhinga, The Kickstands, Golden Super Hawks, Gwyn Viljoen & Hayden Rattray, Steve Umculo, Carol Souki, Black Whiskey, and Rob Warren & The Lapels
  • East Coast Radio broadcasting live on certain days
  • Food and beverage vendors selling an array of delicious eats
  • Pop-ups selling locally made, handcrafted goods


2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup Details


BUY TICKETS NOW from TicketPro for the:

  • Welcoming Cocktail Evening (17 July 2024)
  • Official Opening Ceremony (19 July 2024)
  • First Round of Polocrosse World Cup (20 to 22 July 2024)
  • Second Round Polocrosse World Cup (25 to 28 July 2024)
  • Day passes, VIP tickets, packages, and parking passes are also available.

For the full schedule of events, visit and keep updated on all 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup information by following @southafricanpolocrosse on Instagram.