The last time I sat on a horse was when I was 9 years old during our family trip to Baguio, Philippines. My memories about that experience are a little fuzzy now (Well, it has already been 14 years) but many thanks to the photos we kept from that trip, as they help remind me the memories of my childhood.
NO HOUR OF LIFE spent in the saddle is WASTED
Who would have thought that after 14 years, I would be able to do it again and this time, IN CAMBODIA! The early morning of September 24th, I came to The Happy Ranch Horse Farm in Siem Reap, just showed up and decided to take on a horseback riding journey without a solid horseback riding experience. The Happy Ranch Horse Farm is home to more than 45 horses, and offers a variety of guided trail rides and horse-cart rides to suit all ability levels. The trail rides crafted by The Happy Ranch venture off the beaten track through traditional villages and the scenic countryside the kingdom of Cambodia is known for. Be enthralled as you get a glimpse and get a taste of the real Cambodian life right straight from a horseback ride.
My Horseback Riding Journey
I took on an hour and a half horseback riding journey and Mexico was assigned to me. Hello Mexico!! Mexico is a 7 year-old cross-bred horse (Cambodian + Vietnamese) and it was pretty easy to ride on him. According to Ms. Sokun who is the General Manager of the ranch, horse assignment is based on experience and the weight of the rider. As these horses are smaller compared to western breeds, there is a weight limit of 90kg or 200lbs.
Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground
Mr. Kong who is one of the seven experienced guides at The Happy Ranch was assigned to me. He is a very friendly guy and is very knowledgeable about the horses. I had a couple of portraits right in front of the main office of the ranch before we finally left for the adventure. I was handed a bag which I strapped around my waist. It was very handy as I got to put my stuff (phone, keys, wallets) inside. At first, I was feeling afraid since the last time I had an experience with the horses was over a decade ago and I did not even go horseback riding back then. I just sat on a horse and smiled for the camera. But this time, it was an adventurous one as I was solely controlling the horse – yes, nobody was there to assist me. Turn left, turn right, and then stop.
After a few minutes of horseback riding, I eventually got by and Mr. Kong told me that I was already riding like a pro (I felt proud of myself, could not deny). We first passed through the Cambodian countryside. Lush and green paddy fields, red-dirt roads, lotus farms, water buffalos gazing at us were a delight to see. Children in the local villages saying hello with their biggest smiles also made the journey memorable. I told Mr. Kong many times how friendly Cambodians were and I told him that Khmers were the gems of this town.
A Little More About The Happy Ranch
The Happy Ranch Horse Farm is founded by Mr. Sary Pann, a Khmer who left Cambodia and headed over the United States to escape from the civil war in 1975. Being an employee at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, he was given the opportunity by the embassy to escape from the war and fly to the US when the civil war broke out. After 30 years of living in the US, he decided to come back to Cambodia. He bought one Cambodian horse and very soon he fell in love with horses and decided to build a ranch in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Where Is It?
The horse farm is situated about 1.5 km (10 to 15 minutes) from the bustling city center of Siem Reap and is open daily from sunrise to sunset. The farm is close to the rice paddy fields and rural villages which add up to that unique horseback riding experience. The ranch is accessible via bicycle or tuk tuk. View the map here.
The Happy Ranch offers everyone the chance to explore Siem Reap on horseback, taking in surrounding villages and the stunning scenery of the Cambodian countryside. This is a relaxed way to experience real Cambodia, far from the hustle and tourism crowds.
How Much Is It?
The Happy Ranch Horse Farm offers guided trail rides from one to four hours for all levels. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, there are always options on offer. The cost is $28 per hour, $46 for two hours, $59 for three hours or $69 for four hours – all are with an experienced guide. Horse-card rides are also offered ideal for adventurous families.
- Take some time to understand how to handle a horse. Make sure you understand everything correctly. If you would like to clarify anything, do not hesitate to ask.
- Wear comfortable clothes and wear shoes. Wearing flip flops is a no-no.
- Wear your helmet. This is a must.
- Bring a camera to capture every moment. However, if you are a first timer, it will be difficult for you to take photos on your own as for sure your hands will be holding the horse rein most of the time. Better yet, ask your guide and hand him your camera to take photos of you during the horseback riding journey.
- Listen and follow your guide. The guides at The Happy Ranch are trained and they know how the horses behave.
- Put some sunscreen on especially if you are starting your journey from 9:00 a.m.
In A Nutshell…
The horseback riding experience with The Happy Ranch Horse Farm should not be missed out on when visiting Siem Reap. It is a great way to see how the locals live their lives, their culture and experience Cambodia. Therefore, if you have some time to spare or looking for activities to fill in those hours while on holiday or traveling around Siem Reap, a horseback riding journey with the Happy Ranch should definitely be added to your list. Siem Reap is not only about the temples of Angkor. There is a world of things to see, do and experience in this charming town.
The Happy Ranch