Phuket is better known for its elephant treks than for horse riding but you'd be surprised at how popular an hour or two's clip-clopping through the rubber plantations, back streets and along the beach is.
Phuket Riding Club - operating for two decades now - is the logical choice for those looking for an equestrian adventure with some pretty cool sights thrown in.
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
It's eight o'clock in the morning and here we are at the Phuket Riding Club, donning riding shorts, socks, boots and crash helmets. We're led outside into the morning sunshine and clamber on to our mounts, two 15-year old mares. However, because I'm with a six-year old boy he's given a Thai horse rather smaller than my Australian mount.
Two guides lead us out and away we go at a regal pace. "Basically, just gently pull left on the reins if you want to go left and right if..." Yeah! I get it and before long the little guy does too. Still, we're trotting through a built-up area so the guides - wisely enough - will not let us proceed entirely alone.
Once in a while the guides stop in a shady zone and it's a very welcome move because, as anyone will tell you who has worn a helmet for any extended time in the tropics... it's very hot in it.
We emerge from the greenery onto the main road where two ladies with red flags proceed to halt the traffic in order to let us cross over to the beach side.
A Canter Along the Beach
Here, the breeze picks up and the morning views out over Chalong Bay, Lone Island and distant Coral Island are enchanting. The big surprise is that riding a horse on sand is a completely different experience than over concrete. It's much more physical and involving.
We pass fishermen casting their lines, fancy resorts next to derelict buildings, shipyards and houses with gardens sweeping down to the beach. "Fancy a canter?" asks the guide, "Simply rise up and down in the saddle with the horse's rhythm," and off we go. It' s been years since I've done this and even though it's not at a blistering hat-losing pace you can tell that the horse is enjoying it.
Reaching a convenient shady spot, we dismount; and not a moment too soon for me as my right leg is starting to cramp. We tear off our helmets and swig water while one of the guides tells me that there are close to 40 horses at the Phuket Riding Club and that it is extremely popular with visitors who are looking for alternatives to the usual sun-sand-and-sea combination.
Ten minutes later we are back in the saddle and retrace our way along the coast. The ladies with the red flags appear out of nowhere and we finally clip clop back into camp.
Facts and Figures
Equipment – shorts, boots, socks and helmets are all included in the price of the tour. Phuket Riding Club is open seven days a week from 07:00 – 18:30 and offers one and two-hour treks through the jungly neighbouring areas and/or on the beach. Therefore if you plan to trek until 18:30 it is best to book a 16:30 or 17:30 trek ahead of time. Because of the heat factor, early morning or late afternoon is the best time to go.
Rain does not stop play: The riding club's horses go out in all sorts of weather. As in all outdoor activities in Phuket, slap on the suntan lotion beforehand and wear sunglasses. There are all sorts of horses available, from ponies to stallions, Australian and Thai horses... ours were extremely gentle rides. The club also has dressage riding rings for beginners and small children. More experienced riders will be accompanied by mounted guides.