Once upon a time, there was a couple that developed a fascination for horses and decided to get one, and then two and before you know it, they’re onto horse number forty. The couple here happens to be my parents, whom I also share with forty other horses and a couple of donkeys. And yes, you read that right, F-O-R-T-Y.
So here is our story.
Back in 2012, my parents set up Countryside Stables Penang as a safe haven for all of their horses. The stable is nestled in Sungai Burung agriculture area in Balik Pulau, Penang. There’s just something about this beautiful part of Penang, that feels untapped and filled with luscious greeneries. Such a perfect escape from the hustle & bustle of the city. One of my fondest memories was having to keep a pair of miniature horses at our home temporarily while the stable was still being constructed. I remember my dad constructing a temporary wooden shed for Mary Jane & Rooney, the miniature horses. Because they’re miniature horses, it was more like having two really big dogs at home!
A couple of days later, Mary Jane & Rooney were brought to their new home, at Countryside Stables Penang. Here is a picture of my mum & I during the opening of the stable taken almost a decade ago. To date, it is home to various breeds of horses primarily consisting of Miniatures Horses, Shetlands Ponies, Pure Bred Arabian Horses, Polo Pony, Thai, Myanmar, and Malaysian Ponies.
To be in the presence of these wonderful creatures, there is an entrance fee of RM12(adults) & RM8(children) for locals and RM20(adults) & RM15(children) for non-Malaysians. I would sometimes be there to help out especially on weekends and it is not foreign to hear some people complaining about how expensive the rates are which I find to be rather startling. I’ve encountered some customers who would fake having to go to the restrooms at our stable in an attempt to save the entrance fee. There was also a lady who insisted on entering the stable first to make sure that it was worth the price.
Amid the strangeness, the majority of visitors are always so happy visiting the stable. We’ve had little kids who would refuse to leave or some who wouldn’t want to get off the horse during joy rides. We’ve also seen familiar faces back at the stable time and time again, just because they miss the horses. We’ve also had a visitor taking up riding lessons to, later on, deliver a fantasy proposal. One of the most fulfilling things about the whole experience is how much joy these horses bring to both kids and adults.
Countryside Stables Penang is also a sanctuary for innocent stray dogs seeking refuge. Stray dogs in Balik Pulau are sometimes shunned upon, but they’ve definitely made their way into my parents’ hearts. I can go on and on writing about all these amazing stray dogs that have been guarding our stable or how amazing of a companion they are when my brother goes out for trail riding, but my favorite one has got to be the one where my mum stumbled a stray puppy by the roadside during the drive to the stable and decided to save it and to bring it home. We named her Jane, and the rest is history. So guys if you’re reading this, save the strays and adopt, don’t shop! There are so many strays out there waiting to be loved.
My parents are simple people looking to bring happiness to this sometimes crazy world through horses. I will always be amazed by the warmth and hospitality that is delivered by my parents to every single visitor at our stable. As majestic, hardworking, and loyal companions, horses have helped humans for thousands of years and, for this, they deserve our love, respect, and protection. In the words of Sharon Ralls Lemon, ‘The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom’.