After it discovered a group of children between the ages of 14 -18 were unable to return to Myanmar to continue their education, The Good Shepherd Centre in Phuket Town set up a program of support. They were, and are still, seeking the support of additional volunteers to help teach the children basic English, simple computer skills, maths, art and craft etc for just an hour a week.
Red Bamboo stepped in to offer a complimentary Beginners Riding Class to all the students and to raise awareness of the plight of the students.
On September 3rd they welcomed 10 students from Good Shepherd to partake in a half-day beginners riding class, led by an experienced team. The session started with horse care and grooming to build a bond between the horse and rider, followed by saddling instructions and ended with a ride around the stable grounds.
The school offers horse riding classes to beginners and more seasoned riders alike led by Lolei Soudachan, a French national who grew up in Phuket. All the 12 horses at the center are rescue horses.
They opened only recently and celebrated by hosting their first show jumping competition which consisted of a formal show jumping contest in the morning with three classification groups and jumps up to 90cm. Children joined in the fun by dressing up in the formal wear of white jodhpurs and jackets and by decorating the horses to match.
In the afternoon, the Thai cowboy community, very much an unknown quantity in local circles but much larger than most would imagine, joined in the festivities. Children and adults competed in Western style events like barrel racing and obstacle courses and great fun was had by all.
“We are also offering as many opportunities for the Thai community to get involved in this project,” commented Karen Newell, founder of Red Bamboo Equestrian Center.
“Horse riding is not a traditional Thai sport and is also expensive but we are witnessing change,” added Karen.
HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana is a huge fan of horse riding and established the ‘Princess’s Cup, Thailand’ with the main objective to promote awareness of equestrian sports among Thais.
“The princess has done a great job in raising the profile of the sport and establishing its image,” added Karen.
The Kingdom formed its first Olympic team in the sport last year and also hosted the first FEI Asian championships in Pattaya last December which included three Olympic equestrian disciplines: Dressage, Jumping and Eventing. The host country fared very well in securing 3 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze from all three disciplines.
The next Red Bamboo competition will be held in December where increased participation from the ever bourgeoning Thai cowboy community is expected.
For further details on this and the classes Red Bamboo specialise in please contact Lolei on 082 806 1695 or visit their Facebook page here.