owning horses in Thailand
IT’S true that Thailand is not yet on par with the likes of Western and European countries in terms of facilities and care for horses, but over her 25 years of owning and riding horses in Thailand‘s capital Karen Wainwright has seen a definite improvement.
“Stables here employ a lot more grooms so that when you come to ride your horse will be tacked up and ready for you and taken care of after you ride”, said Karen. “In Europe you would often be expected to do that yourself. Also, if you have your own horse stables here provide full livery whereas elsewhere you have options of full, half or DIY livery.
“In Europe stables tend to be in more rural areas with access to land for hacking out and trail riding, which is not really the case here. Riding here is purely arena based. Horses also tend to live out more in the fields in Europe, especially in summer. Here, mainly because of the climate, this is not possible so horses tend to spend less time turned out and more time stabled.
“Riders in Thailand need to be extremely heat-conscious
and should only ride at certain times of the day. Luckily the Horse Lover’s Club has two indoor arenas so we can train throughout the day. Every stable is equipped with at least one fan and a cooling system similar to that of chicken farms. Motorised walking machines are also a common piece of equipment found at riding clubs in Thailand.
“Equipment is limited and extremely expensive, but has improved over the years. Most horse owners still import their saddles and tack from Europe due to the high prices. Unfortunately, there are no saddle fitters or repairers in Thailand yet so any repair work usually entails the owner carrying their saddle overseas for repair.
“In terms of facilities for horse owners, there are several smaller riding clubs within Bangkok. On the outskirts of Bangkok you’ll find more space and bigger clubs. Nonthaburi Equestrian Sports Club, Thai Polo & Equestrian Club, Equestrian Paradice, Bangkok Equestrian Centre, and the Horse Lover’s Club are some of the most popular riding clubs in Bangkok and its surrounding areas.”
When speaking about the costs involved Karen said: “The fees involved are extremely high. As conditions are not suitable for breeding, most horses are usually bought outside of Thailand and shipped over. Thereafter it will cost the owner up to 100,000 baht in yearly membership fees and up to 4,500 baht in monthly fees. These prices vary from club to club. Livery costs roughly 20,000 baht per month and private lessons range from 2,500-3000 baht per lesson depending on the club and teacher.” Despite the high costs, horse-riding has wonderful benefits. It’s provides an enjoyable form of exercise, allows you to connect with animals, teaches disicpline, and is a healthy interest for young girls and boys. But for Karen it’s benefits extend much further than exercise: “It gives you a structure and focus to your day which many expat women lack; horse riding is far better than coffee mornings and shopping that’s for sure.”
But it’s not just expats enjoying the company of our large four-legged friends; over the years the number of Thai riders has dramatically increased. Major competitions including the Thailand Championships, FEI World Cup Jumping SEA League, FEI World Challenge in showjumping
and dressage the biannual Southeast Asian Games,
and the Asian Games (held every four years) have become coveted events on the Thai-equestrian sporting calendar with smaller competitions sprouting up across the country.
With the equestrian sports becoming increasingly popular in Thailand, hopefully we will see an even greater improvement in terms of facilities and care for horses in years to come.