Happy Ranch | Horse Riding in Cmabodia
Cambodia isn’t particularly famous for horse riding experiences. When it comes to the horse ranches, it’s only natural that Cambodia isn’t the name that comes into your mind. Even so, there is a very impressive horse ranch here in Siem Reap, the only western-style ranch in all of Cambodia. Known as Happy Ranch, it is only 2kms from the center of Siem Reap and is a popular tourist attraction there.
It all began in 2002, when Mr. Sary Pann, a Cambodian who worked for the US Embassy in Cambodia decided to build a western-style ranch here in Siem Reap, first of its kind. Flash forward to the present time, and the ranch now has 44 horses. They now offer horse-cart and trail rides, for all kinds of skill levels. It has good popularity among kids in Siem Reap too.
Read more: Cambodia Holidays
What the ranch has to offer:
Not everyone is a born horse rider, and for someone like me, horse riding seems like the hardest thing in the world. Which is why they have different offers for people with all sorts of horse-riding skills. For the ones who are not interested in riding horses alone, the cart rides are there for them. The trail rides bring about the adventurous bit, as you’re given charge of a horse and you can control the movements.
For the trail rides, you can ride 1-4 hours through the greeneries of the villages and take a look at the Buddhist pagodas. This is a unique way to explore the outskirts of Siem Reap, and you can explore the remote areas in solace and style. The horses here are mostly crossbred with Arabia horses, while most of them are born and bred in their stables.
How safe are the trail rides?
The saddles they provide are western-style and imported from England. Safety helmets are provided, moreover, the horses are very well trained. But above all, riding a horse depends on your ability to cope with the animal. Some first-timers learn art easily and ride the horse freely, and some people still feel awkward despite riding horses for a long time.
But before you begin the trail ride, you need to clear out with your horse guide about your experience. Before riding you’ll have to fill out a form about your horse-riding experience, but you still need to clear everything out, because if you can’t handle the horse in the middle of the road, accidents may well occur. The horses aren’t very big, so people above 200 lbs. are not suggested to ride them. They provide water and bags to keep your belongings, so that section is covered.
How costly are these rides?
The ranch offers one to four hours of rides for people of all skill levels. The prices are a bit much considering the country, but the experience is quite worthwhile. The cost for trail rides is $28 per hour, $46 for a couple of hours, $59 for three hours and $69 for the full four hours. For the children, they can ride for 30 minutes on the ponies or the small horses. There are horse-cart rides too, they are mostly 1-hour rides. Any one-hour cart ride costs $17 per adult and $8 per child up to ten. For the kids under five, the ride is free. For highly experienced riders, they can book 10 one-hour rides for a total of $200. The rides have to be booked beforehand.
The local rate is $3 off per hour, but that is only for the residents. But if you can somehow prove that you live there then you might get them off, but chances are pretty low, I’ll tell you that!
Why would someone visit the Happy Ranch?
There’s something magical about horse-riding. You feel anxious first, a bit scared too, but it all gradually goes away once you get the control of this magnificent beast. Horse riding has always been a trend and tradition amongst the royal blood, and the thrill remains the same. The best time for going on a horse-ride in the morning and the late afternoon, and if you do the later you might have the luck to see a beautiful sunset on the back of a horse.
The countryside, the rice paddy fields would seem different once you go through them on the back of a horse. The view, the solace, the serenity- everything has a different taste, and the experience is one to remember. Plus, the warm hospitality of the locals and professionalism from most of the guides will make sure you have a ride to remember!
Shortcomings and issues with the ranch:
Despite being one of the most famous ranches in all of Cambodia, there have been a few complaints against the Happy Ranch over time. Horse-riding isn’t a very easy thing to do in the first place, and things can get wrong in a matter of split seconds.
The common complaint against the ranch is, as expected, the lack of explanations from the authority before someone starts their trail. They provide a long-form asking about experiences to fill up, but the follow up isn’t very satisfactory. Another problem is the language barrier because not all guides are fluent in English. Sometimes questions aren’t answered clearly due to this problem. Apart from these, the Happy Ranch has had full-on positive reviews about their professionalism and quality of the horses.
Finally, the best bit about Happy Ranch is that they treat their horses very, very well. The horses are fed good food, given time to rest and sleep. In long trail rides, the horses are given rest and water in the middle of the ride most of the time. Upon returning from a ride, the horses are cleaned with cold waters from hose pipes and given food. The professionalism and care for these animals make Happy Ranch an exceptional one, and it does seem like a must-visit when someone visits Cambodia.