Sunday, January 9, 2011


Once again, guided by our Lonely Planet faith, we decided to look under the activities section, close our eyes and point. What we came up with was The Happy Ranch Horse Farm. A place where you can ride horses around the Siem Reap countryside - far from the noise of motors, grabs of street urchin kids, and miles away from old men screaming "LADY WANNA TOOK TOOK RIDE!?" at you.

First of all, it was truly beautiful. We left at around 1515 and were riding for almost 3 hours, coming back along the rice fields at sunset. We rode through small villages filled with children and dogs and locals doing mid-week things that locals do. Our guide was a lovely young lady from New Zealand, and there were just four horses plus hers on the trip.

One of the things that worried us before we arrived at the ranch, was the potential for the horses to be mistreated. This is a country where just today, I found a postcard with a picture of a young orange-robed boy holding a pet monkey by a chain around the neck, pulling it and laughing. This is the same country which offers elephant rides around the temples on elephants who are tortured into carrying excessive weights, walking too fast for too long, and whom are subjected to inhumane and cruel 'training' methods.

And so it was with great relief that we were greeted by the "sherrif" of the ranch (a cheery and rather portly man who proudly wore a toy gold star on his cowboy hat) and shown the stables where the horses are kept. They are clean, well cared for, obviously well fed, and most importantly, provided with love and affection.

Enter Bitey.

Bitey was the noble steed I recieved after disclosing my estimated weight and the sherrif deciding I wasn't lying. I was introduced as such:
      'This is Bitey. You have to keep him away from the other horses because he will bite them. Also, don't let him eat anything he tries to bite - and just be a bit careful in general.'
Wow. I didn't tell them that I had never ridden a horse before because I wanted the sherrif to think I was cool, but now I'm thinking maybe I ought to own up to my inexperience. Before being able to consider the options in front of me, the line of horses began moving away and I had to clamber on quickly to keep up with the trail!
Little did I know at the time, that this was just the beginning of a what was to be an excellently forged friendship between horse and (wannabe) rider.

The greatest horse to ever bite was Bitey.
Bitey had personality. Constantly straying from the line of riders, and sporadically breaking into a canter, he kept me on my stirrups in anticipation for the whole ride. We had an understanding, Bitey and I. Each time I rode him close to my friend Liz's horse in front of us, Bitey would bite her horse on the arse. We soon became close. He provided me with an excellent view of the rural Siem Reap not many get to see. He has also stirred within me a desire to ride horses, and so it is added to my 'upon return to-do list'.

I think it must have been a general, unspoken understanding that Bitey was in fact the best of all the horses. Truly. I can recommend the ranch to anyone heading on down to Siem Reap, and if you are less than 80kg, ask for Bitey.


  1. 'Bitey', Love it. My first horse was 'blaze away'. The name usually says it all. Great experience.xx

  2. Oh Bitey, the things you do to me.


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