Friday, March 01, 2013

Horse Riding in Johor


Warming Up Before Our Lesson
 
A rare strike that sends Rosie leaping in the air
 
On a jungle trail, deep into the forest
 
It was my first horse riding event, not the usual adventure events I used to organise but I was really looking forward to it.  Our trainer, Mos can only handle 10 novice riders and we have to spilt into two batches of 5 each.  So, this group  of 10 of us will comprise Kevin, Abigal, Rose, Shangyi, Sherlyn, Darren, Swee Leng, Angeline, Nicole and me. 
 
This event was confirmed on 23 Feb, Saturday at Amigos Horse Riding in Pasir Gudang and we were to spend a night at Tanjong Puteri Golf Resort.  The resort is in a vast compound which boosts of 3 18-hole golf courses, a clubhouse, villas, a recreational centre and some restaurants, among others and even Amigos Horse Riding is located within its perimeter.  Save for Abigail and Kevin, I will be meeting the rest for the first time at Marsiling MRT Station.  Our transport was to pick us at 1000 hrs and I reckoned we left for Johor at around 1100 hrs, waiting for Nicole who had gone the wrong way to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and had to make a detour when she realised her mistake.  There was no rush to leave on time as we had plenty of time to spend and we even joked that Nicole will pay for lunch for making us waiting.  She seemed to be in the stage of shock, judging from her facial expression.  But she turned out to be quite a darling when she warmed up with us later. 
 
The horse stable in Pasir Gudang is not far after crossing the Woodlands Causeway and with the new highway already up and running for quite a while, it will take us about half an hour to reach.  We decided to pull over at Permas Jaya for lunch before resuming our journey.   
 
At about 1200 hrs, we reached Tanjong Puteri Golf Resort but our villa was not ready yet.  I called Mos on his mobile and he walked over from his stable which is opposite the main reception to meet us.  I made a formal introduction of each of us to him, 7 ladies and 3 guys.  Mos clicked well with the group almost immediately and that was a good start.  Mos is an Iranian of a modern sort who knows all his 7 horses at his stable well and he is quite a joker too. 
 
After checking in, we spilt into 2 groups of 5 each and randomly, I chose Kevin, Darren, Angeline, Swee Leng and Nicole to be in the first group and the second group will comprise Abigal, Rose, Shangyi, Sherlyn and me.  We were given one villa which has 5 rooms to accommodate all of us.  It is a spacious villa, decently furnished and fairly clean too.  There is WIFI too.  
 
After we have checked in and a short while later, we will troop to the stable.  Mos will take us through our first lesson.  He gathered us around (see picture above), slowly warmed us up with simple exercises and then, we were to mimic the trotting posture in a squatting position.  He stressed it is important that we learn to trot the right way.  It was still midday and was quite hot with the afternoon sun hovering above us.  After the warm up, Mos will start the practical lesson with the first group of 5 while the second group will come back 2 hours later.  I was in the second group and we decided to go for bowling at the recreational club.  We had 2 fun-filled games which ended just around 2 hours for us to walk back to the stable to resume our horse ride.   
 
The first group had, by then finished their horse riding lesson and now, it was our turn.  One by one, Mos chose a horse for us.  I was given Chili, a 14-year old horse.  All the horses are tamed and they seemed to only follow Mos' instructions.  We were taught how to get the horse moving by kicking on the side of its body.  To move right or left, we just pulled the reins to either side.  At all times, we have to ensure that our fingers are holding onto the reins which is attached to the horse in order to be able control it.  When the reins is made shorter, we can better control the horse.  Mos was watching us closely, telling us what we should do and what we did wrong, etc.  We walked the horse around the course, pulled the reins to make it stop and kicked its body to get it moving again.  It was quite fun and the adrenalin rush in me did get me excited.  We were made to stand up and sit down while walking our horses round the course.  We have to get used to it as once the horse started to trot, we will move up and down in sync with the horse while it trots.  I had hard time balancing when I started to trot the horse.  My right foot was caught in the stirrup (the things on either side that hold my legs), almost losing my balance while still trotting but I managed to re-position myself back.  After few tries, and I managed to get the momentum right.  Very soon, I was trotting around the course following the rhythm of the horse.  Sometimes, the saddle can hit the sensitive part of my lower body - ouch!.  When I asked Mos later whether it is normal for guys to get kick on the vital part and his reply is no help either.  He too had it, sometimes.  Chili is an obedient horse, he followed all my instructions and I had no problem handling him at all - much to my delight. 
 
Shangyi was riding on Murano.  Everything was going smoothly.  Murano was walking too close behind Shiba, a brown colour well-groomed horse which was ridden by Rose but the tail of Shiba was caught in Murano's reins.  Shiba gave a kick from the back, probably trying to loosen it but it hit Murano, unfortunately.  Seething in pain, Murano started to make a high pitch noise and was standing on two hind legs.  He went somewhat 'bersek' and Shangyi could not control him.  She could lose her grip and fall.  Luckily, he fell on one side, broke the wooden barrier but Shangyi was able to get off in time.  Probably sensing some danger and despite the pain, he had made sure he let Shangyi off first and after that, resumed to trot around the course in a rather frantic manner.  It took a while for him to simmer down.  There was a cut on the lower part of his hind leg.  Shangyi felt so sorry for her horse and gamely, she still chose to ride on him for the rest of the evening.
 
Probably sensing it was coming to the end of the lesson, Shiro which means white in Japanese, the only white horse which was ridden by Abigal suddenly dropped on four.  It caught Abigal off guard for his strange behaviour but she managed to dismount before Shiro started to roll over on his back.  According to our trainer Mos, Shiro is the only horse that likes to roll on his back.  We later joked that Abigal had a 'Princess' dismount when her horse went down on four for her. 
 
The two hours lesson ended and we will be ready to tackle the one and a half hour jungle trail the following morning.  We re-joined the first group at our villa, had a good bath and a good rest.  In the evening, we had BBQ dinner at our villa.  Mos came over to join us for dinner and he brought along a carton of beer too.  We ate, some drank and we chatted the whole evening.  It was quite enjoyable and everyone helped to clean up later before retiring to bed.     
 
The following morning, the second group that went for lesson will start first for the jungle trail.  We had our breakfast at the resort.  I must say the breakfast was good and I had few rounds, quite unusual for me.  After a hearty breakfast and it was almost 0900 hrs, the five of us, Rose, Shangyi, Sherlyn, Abigal and I walked over to the stable while the second group comprising Kevin, Angeline, Swee Leng, Nicole and Darren will commence at 1100 hrs.  I even joked it will be cool in the morning for the first group and later on, it will rain to take a swipe at the second group. Nobody took me seriously and rain did not come.     
 
I was hoping to ride on Chili again but Mos chose Soheil for me.  Soheil is the oldest horse, already 16 year of age.  Mos preferred Abigal to ride on Chili which is easier to control and I agreed.  Once everyone had their own horse and raring to go, Mos and his horse, Hachi led the way.  Soheil walked in a very slow pace and soon, he was overtaken by the rest of the horses.  The two dogs, Boy and Girl followed too.  It was my first experience riding on a horse and all of a sudden everything looked so small from the top.  We strolled past tree, after tree and spiders resting high on some trees were so near us.  We had to keep a watchful eye in case one spider happens to jump on us.  Our horses had no problem walking through thick and long 'lallang' but we had to make sure our horses do not drop its head and started to eat the grasses.  It will take some strength to pull its head up so that it can continue to stroll on.  Some of the ladies had some difficulty trying to stop their horses from not eating.  My Soheil too, he cannot resist not to 'steal' a bite in between and strolled on munching away.  We strolled deep into the forest, passed the beach which overlooks Ubin on the opposite side and back into the forest before coming to the main road which will lead us all the way to the stable.  This jungle trail took us one and a half hour to complete.
 
The second group took over from us led by Mos again but this time, Boy and Girl decided not to follow anymore.  Smart dogs, but I cannot say much about the trainer though (he followed the second time but guess he had no choice). 
 
We had a rather late lunch at the resort, about 1400 hrs I think.  And as it was the last day of the lunar new year, we had 'lo-hei' for our starter, which was specially arranged by Mos.  Sumptuous lunch it had been and prior to that, I had downed a big bowl of ice-kachang while waiting for the rest to join for lunch.  Iran is where he has hailed from but having stayed in Malaysia for some 8 years now, he has definitely acquired a good grasp of the local culture and language.  To hear him saying, 'wah lau aa...' in between conversation has certainly sent the girls giggling away.  He even openly confessed he is still looking for a Chinese wife and I have no idea whether he is still single, hitched or otherwise but I wish him all the best of luck. 
 
After completing our check-out and biding good bye to Mos, we hopped on to our coach and left for Jusco at Bukit Indah for some shopping.  We had another sumptuous seafood dinner at a busy Orang Asli Restaurant before heading home.  It was a smooth ride all the way to the Causeway, no heavy jam on either side and we reached Marsiling MRT station well before 2100 hrs.  It had been a wonderful trip and the horse riding aside, I truly enjoyed the great company and we certainly have bonded well from start to end.      

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