Travel

Langkawi Equestrian Adventures

There’s a hand-painted wooden sign on the rails of the corral at the Mutiara Burau Bay Equestrian Centre that says: ‘I’ve spent most of my life riding horses – the rest I’ve wasted.’ I didn’t notice this until after I had returned from riding along an isolated jungle track at the base of Langkawi’s highest mountain of Gunung Raya. It did seem rather appropriate though considering the excitement of the half-day ride. While helping unsaddle the horse I reflected upon the experience of riding through primary rainforests, the near solitude of our group of just four riders, drinking cool water from a mountain stream and the sense of achievement in riding a thoroughbred through an area that tourists rarely visit.

I’ve been to Langkawi many times before and participated in just about every activity that this resort island has to offer. When I heard about horse riding I suspected the usual bunch of nags following each other in an aimless procession through some uninspiring patch of forest. Oh, how wrong I was. This is a very professional operation with great facilities, enthusiastic and compassionate staff and some splendid looking horses. The horse I rode on my jungle adventure named Carlos was worth a cool RM500,000. Let me clarify that. He was worth that amount as a thoroughbred racer but once his competitive days were over, his value nose-dived. However, he and his 15 colleagues in the stables look in peak condition. I noted that the staff were caring of their charges. The team led by Muhammad Hamzah Abdullah and capably supported by Kamal, Taquiddin, Nazri and Pacik talked to and tendered the animals like they were their children. Horse riding is a recreational activity that I’d pushed to the dark recesses of my fading memory as there are little opportunities to pursue the sport in Malaysia or Asia for that matter.

The Mutiara Burau Bay Equestrian Centre is the only centre attached to a resort in Asia that I know of and one of only a few equestrian centres in Malaysia. For anyone interested in a horse-riding holiday combined with a relaxing seaside location, this is definitely the place to visit. Once the news gets around Malaysian teenagers there will be long queues at the stable doors for those seeking an opportunity to ride. While the equestrian centre has only been established a few months, it has already developed some superb facilities and more and more horses are being added.

The Mutiara Burau Bay Equestrian Centre is the only centre attached to a resort in Asia that I know of and one of only a few equestrian centres in Malaysia. For anyone interested in a horse-riding holiday combined with a relaxing seaside location, this is definitely the place to visit. Once the news gets around Malaysian teenagers there will be long queues at the stable The centre offers rides through kampungs, rubber estates, rainforests and along the beach. Resort General Manager, Abdul Razak is the driving force behind the centre’s success and now a convert to the sport. His son, Anwar has also taken up riding and recently won a national title in Penang. Some high -profile decision-makers have also saddle-tested the facilities and the trails. Recently, Malaysia’s noted world champion endurance rider, Dato’ Kamaruddin Awang rode along the Perdana Trail at the base of Gunung Raya. Malaysia’s senior riding instructor, Johari Lee has conducted O-level classes at the centre and Malaysia’s Equine Council has also given it its seal of approval.doors for those seeking an opportunity to ride. While the equestrian centre has only been established a few months, it has already developed some superb facilities and more and more horses are being added.

One of the most interesting features for Langkawi is that only three of the 99 islands in the archipelago are settled and that most of the land is still forested. While experienced guides offer guided jungle treks, the chance to see the island from the back of a horse was a great motivator for me. After a few refresher courses on riding, we headed off to near Gunung Raya. Once geared up, we set off along the nine-kilometre Perdana Trail past a golf course and into a rubber plantation. The land was flat and great for adjusting to and getting to know the horses. The trail traversed undulating land and the horse handling lessons of the previous few days were immediately appreciated. It was hot and sweaty work for both riders and horses but we rested for awhile besides a cool mountain stream from which we were actually able to drink.

Hamzah, our guide for the five-hour ride is the centre’s horse trainer, farrier, horse educator and nature guide. He explained the various features along the trail and I acquired a new perspective of Langkawi. First timers need not be too concerned as Hamzah and his team are patient and will not send riders immediately into the wilds of the Langkawi forests without some basic training. Riders are all equipped with safety helmets too, just in case they come out of the saddle.

Costs range from a few ringgit for pony rides, RM99 for a one-hour beach ride to RM399 for the Perdana Trail. The resort also plans to obtain a horse carriage to be used as a shuttle between the resort and the growing number of tourist attractions around Burau Bay. While most of us know Langkawi as a relaxing island destination the new horse riding activities at Mutiara Burau Bay will definitely appeal to those who enjoy riding or who want to learn.

This article has been edited for ExpatGomalaysia.com
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