Of horses and carraiges

Riders Lodge Manor

FOLLOWING the signposts, I turned off the main road and was quickly swallowed up into the heart of a matured oil palm plantation. 

Bordered by shady palm trees, the short driveway did not give me any hint of what to expect when I rounded the bend. The trees on my left gave way to wide paddocks as I drove up the hillock and through the gates of Riders Lodge.

Walking towards the building, I saw a groom leading a handsome horse into the stables. Picking my way up the gravel path, I paused to look at the fa├žade of the gleaming whitewashed manor and my first thought was that this looked like a page from Town & Country magazine!

Bathed in bright sunlight, the stately manor stood in stark contrast against the greenery of the oil palm plantation. As I walked across the threshold on terracotta-tiled floors, I was half expecting a liveried footman to come forward and take my bags!

All around, guests were making themselves very much at home. On a seasoned sofa, a father was reading a book with his young son while several children, dressed in riding habit and talking non-stop, trooped out to the stables. Another clutch of riders streamed in after wiping their muddy boots on the doormat. Through the glass-paneled windows, groups were having a convivial time on the patio, eating and drinking around wicker tables spread with dark green and white checkered tablecloths.

Sennet Tzinberg with guests on horse carraige

Musing on how the Riders Lodge was clearly a fun and familiar leisure retreat, I heard a gentle greeting and turned to meet Kumar Muniandy, the resort manager. I followed him to be introduced to my host, the man I privately regarded as the Lord of the Manor.

Standing tall in his knee-high boots, the affable Sennet Tzinberg wasted no time in showing me the stables. Falling into step with his long strides, we stopped at the various stalls to meet the horses. Calling them by name and saying a few encouraging words to each horse, the magnificent animals responded with mutual familiarity.

Happy and Heady

At the stables, grooms were busy saddling up the horses and guests anxiously waiting to leave on jungle trail rides. While beginners and young riders were escorted by grooms, experienced riders could ride their own horses. There was an air of excitement as riders got ready for a unique riding experience in nearby Sedenak National Park.

In the next paddock, an instructor was guiding a young rider through a routine and in a separate jumping trail, another instructor was coaching a rider on the finer points of jumping.  The resort has three professional instructors, including Sennet’s own daughter, who conduct small group lessons, riding camps and individual training.

Signature Milo Frappe

While I sipped a Milo Frappe, a chocolatey creation unique to Riders Lodge, a few kids assembled at the porch. Their excited squeals signalled the arrival of the horse carriage.  As the kids piled into the carriage, Sennet invited me to join him in the driver’s seat.

Comfortably settled, I felt the carriage sway into motion in response to Sennet’s instructions. It was simply exhilarating to feel the swirl of cool winds whipping around us as the intelligent animal changed its pace from a gentle walk to a happy trot and then to a heady canter!

Pure Indulgence

Even as horse riding is the main feature at the resort, the style and ambience of the manor exudes a charm reminiscent of America’s Deep South.  Built with wide verandahs, its elegant rooms are tastefully designed with the opulence of a bygone era. Reeking with romance, the charming resort is also the preferred choice for cosy wedding celebrations!

Warm Bread Pudding with Ice-Cream

Riding, I’m sure, builds up a healthy appetite. To cater to the hungry riders, the Agnes Cafe offers European gourmet meals. Even a humble bread pudding looks irresistible when it is presented with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with slices of mango, a split fresh strawberry and drizzled in chocolate sauce. The intimate setting of the manor is particularly pleasing and a romantic candle-lit dinner prepared by the resort’s award-winning chef is reason enough to drive out there.

Getting There 

The Riders Lodge is just 45 minutes by car from the Johor Baru Causeway and an easy three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur by the North-South Highway. From the south, exit at Kulai toll and from the north, exit at Sedenak toll. Located in Sedenak oil palm plantation, Riders Lodge is adjacent to the Legends Golf & Country Resort.  For reservations, call 07-652 5330 or fax: 07-652 5331. For more info, visit website: http://www.riderslodge.com.my/

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 22 October 2007

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