Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Horse Haven

Fond of horses? Me? Definitely not!

I am neither a fan of horses nor am I keen on ponies or the weekend races. But I get to see these animals often because they are one of Mr. Hubby’s passions. (The other is collecting stuff to clutter the house just to annoy me.) So I guess I’m one of the rare non-horse-crazy persons who get to see horses and ponies often. Even daily if I wanted to. But no, thank you.

The very first stables I visited were the ones at Tanjung Aru—before they were moved to Tuaran. I erroneously thought I’d just see several ponies in their stables or running around the padang. I didn’t expect to be assaulted by the peculiar horse smell as soon as I opened the car door. The stench was so over-powering—like a wall of indescribable odour rushing to suffocate me—that I almost pulled the car door shut and not step out of the vehicle.

I’ve been to the stables countless times after that first visit. However, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the stench of fresh dung and horse pee, the smell of ponies and the stinky puddles the horses leave all over the open space. Then there’re the horses’ neighing and snorting; the stamping of hooves, and the shouts of men. Even if you don’t look at the horses, you could feel the eyes that stare from the stalls, from under the trees and from behind the wooden fences. Horses scare me and I know they can smell my fear.

The old stalls in Tanjung Aru were made of planks and odd pieces of wood nailed together. Above many of the stalls, between pony and metal roof, a loft was added. This was where the syce slept if he couldn’t afford to rent a room.

(Note: Syce—from the Indian word meaning male servant—doesn’t earn much. He is paid based on the number of animals under his care… about RM100 to 200 per horse. In order to make ends meet a syce sometimes takes care of more ponies than he could manage.)

The stables at Tuaran are better planned and are built of better materials than the old ones in Tanjung Aru. There is more open space where the ponies are let loose in paddocks or  tied to a post but still be able to move around.

 After getting used to seeing the typical stables, whether in Tuaran, Tanjung Aru, Kinarut or Keningau, it was a pleasant surprise to see a horse haven nestled among tall trees between the sea and a huge open space somewhere in Tuaran. It is a picture of tranquility: sunlight is filtered through the foliage; cool breezes blow from the sea and the waves crash softly along the deserted sandy beach. Even the horses are quiet and relaxed instead of staring suspiciously at strangers. And, there is no stench!

This picture-perfect place is at the end of a narrow, winding road that snakes past kampong houses that are surrounded with fruit trees and gardens. The haven must have been built by someone who really loves his horses.


  1. Thank you, Charles! I appreciate your visits and welcome your comments. I may not write a reply but that doesn't mean I don't read the comments!