I rave about all of South East Asia, but Cambodia was one of those countries that goes above and beyond everything that you expect. The people were incredibly friendly and the countryside and temples were so beautiful.
Since Cambodia was country number 7 and month number 4 on my trip (probably the longest I’ve gone without being on a horse since my first ride) I was beyond excited when my number one travel buddy, Teresa, found a trail riding place in Siem Reap. The night before we went I danced around our hostel room singing “ponies, ponies ponies” probably much to the amusement of our other hostel mates. We had high hopes but low expectations upon booking our 3 hour ride through the countryside and local villages. After working at one of the top rated guest ranches in Canada we didn’t think anything would come close to what we have in our backyard. Happy Ranch sure proved us wrong! We took a tuk tuk the few kilometres to the ranch, and as soon as we turned down the driveway we knew we were in for a treat.
A well manicured exterior is always a good sign that the company is legit and the animals well cared for. The grass was green and well cut, there was a sandy arena where some chubby Khmer ponies were playing, and the stable hands were out front in a cemented wash rack bathing and tacking up the horses. We were ushered inside the barn to the office where we signed our lives away before grabbing helmets and heading out to meet our horses. Teresa got the cute little gelding I had my eye on named Paris, and I got a sweet but very mareish pony named Delilah. We adjusted our stirrups and got on our way walking through a forested trail to the dirt road.
We rode though a small local village with kids calling out to us and puppies barking, galloped down a narrow trail between rice fields, stopped for a photoshoot (of course), splashed through water and ended with a canter home to the village. The horses were pretty hard mouthed but as both of us are used to that we really enjoyed them as well as the incredible views and chatting to our guide Johnny Walker.
It is always a struggle to ride horses while travelling, as to the untrained eye it is hard to tell how well they are cared for. We got criticized for riding in Cambodia but these Khmer ponies are built very differently than horses in North America. They are all very small but very strong and were so well cared for at Happy Ranch, some were probably even too chubby! While we were there the vet was out floating teeth and all the horses are on a strict farrier routine. It is very safe to say that Happy Ranch cares for there horses just as well as we do at Sundance or as I care for my own personal horses.
Cruising around Cambodia on my trusty Delilah is a memory so close to my heart and one of the best times I’ve ever had on a horse!
All of the photos on this post were taken from my favourite travel buddy, the incredibly talented Teresa!