In the last ten years, Chiang Mai’s very own equestrian scene has taken off! Whether you’ve never saddled up before or you’ve been riding since you could walk, the stables of Chiang Mai offer a little something for everyone. Citylife sat down with retired equestrian Dominique Leutwiler to get the scoop on this new trend and her personal riding project. Here’s what we learnt.
Laddaland Equestrian Club
Laddaland is home to forty plus horses which have been imported mainly from Europe; it is one of the biggest stables in Chiang Mai and is geared towards those seriously interested in training and competing. Located in the Jet Yod community near the end of the Canal Road, this riding centre offers both indoor and outdoor riding facilities on ten rai of land, so you’ll never have to worry about the rainy weather putting a damper on your stride. Having trained and competed for several years himself, the owner of Laddaland knows the importance of safety and will guarantee your comfort and satisfaction. From recreational riding to more competitive training or even learning how to jump, you can do it all at Laddaland Equestrian Club. If you’re interested in a trot through the wild however, this may not be the place for you as riding is not permitted outside of the stable facilities. Laddaland hosts competitions once a year, so if after a couple lessons you’re feeling confident; grab the opportunity to go show off your new skills! Keep in mind that membership is required.
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
137/33 Irrigation Canal Rd., Soi 3, T. Chang Puak
Tel. 053 414 022, 01 882 0271
Pack Squadron Riding Club
PSRC is conveniently located on Mae Rim road just after the Lanna Sports Club and although it isn’t a favourite among Chiang Mai’s equestrians, these army barracks offer both private and group riding lessons for those just getting started. They also offer the most competitions per year, so more experienced riders in the city can enjoy the excitement of competition and stay on top of their game (and their horses) all at once. The facilities may not be the most scenic and the horses aren’t exactly the best kept, but Pack Squadron Riding Club is great for those who enjoy the outdoors as it backs straight into the mountains and there are many trails for riding.
Drive up the Chiang Mai-Mae Rim road and the Pack Squadron army barracks will be on your left.
McKean Rehabilitation Centre
If being cooped up in a stable and riding within the limits of a fence isn’t the experience you were hoping for, McKean Rehabilitation Centre offers an alternative to the typical stable experience. All riding is done outside of the stable, so you’ll be sure to feel like you’re part of a movie as you trot around in the wilderness. There are currently only a few horses ready for riding at this centre as it is mainly used by those requiring therapy of both physical and mental sorts, but leisurely riding is facilitated and even encouraged.
McKean Rehabilitation Centre
Tel: 053 124 263
Chiang Mai University Veterinary Facility
A simple solution to your little one’s curiosity for cantering. This stable is small and run mainly by veterinary students of the university, so classes are not available, but leisurely riding is. There’s even a pony! The facility is safe and sanitary as the animals are well looked after by the vets-in-training – perfect for a Saturday outing with the kids.
The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
Chiang Mai University, Mae Hia, A. Muang
Tel. 053 948 026
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In conjunction with the Veterinary University, Dominique Leutwiler founded a programme of her own which she hopes will foster further development within Chiang Mai’s riding community. She has developed an intensive training course for children from orphanages and nearby hill tribes between the ages of sixteen and eighteen who haven’t benefitted from a proper education and therefore cannot read or write. By law, these children have no identity as they lack the proper government documents to prove their citizenship, thus getting a job is almost impossible. Working against all odds and illiteracy, Dominique has realised the potential in these youth to connect with the animals.
For one year, they are provided with food and shelter and are instructed on how to be skilful horse groomers. After that year has passed, they are released into the work world and are encouraged to seek independent jobs at stables nearby. Many of them have gone on to work at veterinary clinics or stables and have even taken up riding themselves, as they are allowed to practice at all the stables mentioned above during their one year stay. The programme itself is currently only two years old, but there are definite plans in the making to expand in the coming years. In fact, this year, boys will be sent to Pattaya where polo clubs are seeking assistance at their stables to service their Argentine horses.
The future looks bright for riding in Chiang Mai, so don’t miss out on the excitement, it might just be your turn to ride off into the sunset!