Horses for causes
Life can offer up turning points - even to those who are happy with what they’re doing but are kind of looking for something more fulfilling.
For happily married engineers Zarina binti Ismail and her husband Naslan Jujali, their moment of change came in 2008 when they bought a horse for their sons 17thbirthday.
“One horse soon became three horses and suddenly there were four,” laughs Zarina, who finished her 25 years corporate career as a project director for Motorola in Malaysia and Thailand – “Naslan soon discovered endurance riding so then we needed a place to care for our horses, retiring them, caring for them, resting them etc, so before long we outgrew our small plot of land in Port Dickson and Seremban to be where we are now”.
‘Now’, is a wonderful 60 acres of undulating land situated at the foothills of theTitiwangsa range, Cape Cavallhonear Rembau, that has grazing pastures, some forest that is surrounded by palm oil plantations offering open spaces and shaded areas for the horses and other pets, called Ladang Ternakan Kuda Rembau (LTKR).
“Our core activity here now is mainly breeding horses for the endurance racing and our hope is to breed pure bred Arabian with our local ponies which will help acclimatise the Arab horses to the humidity and heat here and improve the hooves of the horses.”
“We also have horse rehabilitation, retirement, spelling as well as horseback riding lessons, horseback archery, joyrides, hacking and horse camps.”
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“It may look like we’re just teaching them balance and how to ride properly but it is the teaching inside which happens silently that cannot be described, because at the end of the day you and the horse are partners and like all teams you have to trust each other - when you have trust, magic works”.
“We’ve had teenagers come here with some problems and confusion about their world, leave, and return again, saying, ‘I want to be that horse’.
“It’s therapeutic for children and adults, they feel safe and when they feel safe they can go back out into their world and take it and when they feel like coming back they do. They mend here and they heal here-and I thinks that’s part of it you know, we all have scars, all kids will have scars wherever they go, but the more important thing is for the scars to heal. Spending time with the horses helps children and adults heal”.
LTKR has programs designed for special needs children and provide a program for special schools in the area every two weeks or once a month which is free and psychologists have come to see how the program helps the children.
“ We don’t want to take money from people who already have big challenges to overcome and when they come they bring experiences with them that we learn from, that benefit us and they leave learning something from us, that magic comes into play again.”
Brain surgeon and horse trainer Dr. Allan Hamilton who analyses the horse-human bond from the neuroscience side explains how a horse and human commune.
”When free of language, we can relate directly, viscerally with the horse. We do not need to understand how the horse knows what we want, we need to feel it. Horses teach us that what we access by feeling is just as valid as what we know by reasoning.”
“As a neurosurgeon and a horse trainer, I am always impressed by how the non-verbal nature of horses forces us to quiet our inner voice. We cannot use language for encouragement like we might for a dog. We must build up the horse with our intention. The horse seems to simply take a short cut around our language, our inner voice, which is constantly distracting us from connecting with the world around us”.
Visitors can wake up to the sounds of birds singing and nature, no trains planes or cars. There is accommodation, it’s not 5 star but it’s comfortable, a room, a bathroom and AC for when it gets hot, but Zarina tends to notice people don’t spend time in the room they are outdoors with the horses in some capacity.
They get up in the morning take a horse for a walk, feel at peace and can assist in the maintenance and care of the horses carried out at the moment by two volunteers, overseas visitors Clare Hopkins from the UK and French woman Marine Ducognan.
Both ladies have extensive experience with horses and have stayed months at the complex nurturing the horses with their love and attention.
“I’m not saying it as lip service, I’ve seen horses at work with people, I’ve seen them do wonders, I’ve seen horses turn people around from hopelessness to hopefulness, I’ve seen horses turn troubled kids into wonderful productive kids, it is truly magical,” says Zarina.
Many people are now beginning to realise the benefits of horse riding are beyond simple enjoyment - it affects one physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Riding a horse in the natural environment relaxes the mind, creating an overall feeling of well-being and peace. Reconnecting with nature on this level is a must for every human being, at some point or the other, in our busy lives.
So head to Ladang Ternakan Kuda Rembau (LTKR) in Rembau to ride ahorse and recharge-you won’t regret it!
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