Hooked on horses

Y. Mousouloo, the horseman from Iran
Y. Mousouloo better known as Mos, 46, grew up in Mamouniyeh, a traditional town in Iran where he enjoyed horse-riding in the desert.  He’s so at home astride a horse that he started to introduce horse-riding lessons and fun rides at Amigos Horse Riding in Pasir Gudang.  His passion for horses and his homeland is so contagious that he recently brought riders from this part of the world to explore Iran on horseback with him as personal guide and resident cowboy!

Fresh from an 11-day adventure in Iran with a small group of riding enthusiasts, Mos is upbeat about how riding fans are finding their way to Amigos Horse Riding.  He attributes this interest to good press coverage in a foreign publication and from online postings by riding enthusiasts from the Riders without Borders group.  With enquiries and email bookings flooding his mailbox, Mos is kept busy every weekend.

“I was impressed with his quick response to my email,” said Nicole Forwell, 27, a riding enthusiast who first came to Amigos for a riding experience with her aunt.  Forwell lived the last 10 years in the UK and took up riding as a hobby but when she started riding with Amigos several months ago, she got hooked on horses.  She became such a regular that Mos accepted her as a volunteer to help out especially on weekends and Public Holidays!

Mos [2nd from Right] with horse-riding enthusiasts
on the paddock at Amigos Horse Riding

“Women have more affinity to horses than men,” insists Forwell as her eyes sparkled with passion for the handsome horses under her care.  She certainly has her cake and could eat it too because working with horses and riding them works out as a win-win situation all around. Working regularly with Mos at Amigos, she observed how horse-riding is fast becoming a popular sport here.

Since her discovery of riding in several places in Johor, Denise Liu, 26, has been a regular at Amigos over the last 12 months.  Her love for horse-riding led her to organize groups of likeminded people from Singapore to share her experience of the free and easy ambience and exciting jungle trails in Amigos.  Liu, an accomplished rider, was a member of the group who explored desert trails with Mos in their recent tour of Iran. 

Mos [Top Left] escorting riders on hills near
Saveh City, Iran

“It was hilly and stony, and the weather was cool in late winter-early spring,” said Liu about the vast contrast she experienced in both terrain and temperature.  

She also had a new experience riding and handling Arabian horses but her training with Amigos and being escorted by Mos in his homeland made a great difference to the whole adventure.

Horses at Amigos Riding cooling off after exercise
J. S. Koh, 29, who has some riding experience, observed that the horses at Amigos looked healthy and are well treated.  Housed in clean stables and exercised regularly, the 7 horses and 1 pony at Amigos look smart in their sleek coats and muscled flanks.  Each time after exercise, the horses are watered as they cool down in the paddock before being showered and given a relaxing rub-down.

A track rider with a turf club, Isa Suad, 27, loved horses so much that he wanted to be with horses even on weekends.  With his experience, Isa is a natural on horseback and he enjoyed himself tremendously on the paddock and jungle trail with Mos, but best of all, he could try something new like this more relaxed form of riding at Amigos. 

Mos firmly believe that riders should first acquire basic riding skills and techniques before attempting to go on a riding trail.   Riders are always escorted by horse handlers but Mos will personally escort even experienced riders, especially on their first visit to Amigos to ascertain their riding skills. 

“It’s a horse, not a machine,” said Mos, explaining about how the lack of skills and experience will put both the rider and horse at risk.  So while the atmosphere in Amigos may be relaxed and casual, Mos still insists on uncompromised safety standards for his customers and horses.

Mos [Far Left] escorting riders on jungle trail ride
Beginners, both adults and children, can start with fun riding around the paddock with the horse handler guiding the horse and learn basic horse handling techniques like how to get the horse to respond to the manipulation of bridle and reins. 
Children above age 5 are welcome to go on the jungle trail but they should be accompanied by an adult guardian as a Couple on horseback. 

Once riders have acquired some basic skills and confidence with the horse, they will enjoy the 45-minute jungle trail that will take them through an oil palm plantation and green fields that ends on a beach at the edge of the Straits of Johor which commands a panoramic view of the sea and Pulau Ubin in Singapore.

Another volunteer at Amigos, Rachel Lee, 29, recalls helping a customer set up a table on the beach complete with wine, cake, fruit and a beautiful bouquet of roses because he planned to propose to his girlfriend there.  So while Mos led the customer and his girl through the jungle trail, a horse handler was posted to guard the table set-up lest a mischievous monkey helped himself to the goodies.  While the romantic proposal went on at the beach, the guard and Mos moved a discreet distance away and she will always remember how the couple returned happily on horseback, waving that bouquet and the girl – wearing his ring!

Besides fun rides, jungle trails and a professional Riding course, Amigos sometimes hosts charity rides for underprivileged groups and offers its horses as photo props for special events like weddings.  Couples use Amigos as the backdrop for their wedding photos and horses are also hired out for the bridegroom to arrive in style to wed his blushing bride! 

Amigos Horse Riding is located within the compound of Tanjong Puteri Golf Resort in Pasir Gudang, Johor.  Weekend traffic is light and smooth on the convenient highway from Johor Bahru and Second Link which directly links Singapore to Pasir Gudang.  For more info and reservations, email: amigoshorse@gmail.com or call Mousouloo on Tel: 012 – 7966 806.  Visit webpage: http://amigoshorse.tripod.com/

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets in May 2010

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