As of 2013, we have had two international trainers . One from Italy and one from California, USA.
Wind Horse will continue to seek skilled volunteer trainers, passionate about horses and the Himalayas.
Kystal Kelly from California trained for a month in July 2013. She was involved in training our staffs, riding all all trails and in advising us about the project.
Below is a short article she wrote about her trip.
Horseback Riding in Bhutan
(Not just for Royalty Anymore)
I first came to Bhutan during the Monsoon season, in the month of July. Having worked previously in six other countries as a professional horse rider/trainer and instructor, I thought I was in for another routine job.
Boy was I wrong!
I learned very quickly on my flight, compliments of DrukAir, that out of the seven other passengers on the plane, I was the only American Citizen. My blonde hairs, green eyes and pale skin had caused me lots of hassles in the nearby country of India, however, the local Bhutanese citizens seemed genuinely unfazed by the sight of me. In fact, during my entire experience in Bhutan I saw nothing but friendly smiles and warm greetings.
I was amazing to see the beautiful architecture, still upholding the traditional construction plans, the men and women wearing their traditional clothes…and the Himalayas! The greenery and mountainside views and winding roads were truly a sight to see. I felt as if I had flashbacked a thousand years in time.
And to think I had never even heard of this country six months ago.
Although the culture was rich, the temples and monasteries were incredible and the scenery was breathtaking…there was one problem. Horse riding was next to none. In fact, prior to my visit, I was told the only horse riding facility belonged to the Bhutan Military and Royalty.
When I spoke to the local men and women I received blank stares and awkward smiles when I told them my profession. “You ride horses?” They seemed to ponder how anyone in the world could make a living by doing something so unpractical.
I had started taking riding lessons when I was nine years old, however, growing up in California made horseback riding an expensive endeavor—one that my parents could not afford. I worked hard to muck stalls and do odd jobs to pay for my riding lesson every other weekend. Hard work at various stables and years of saving every penny I had finally paid off the day I was able to afford to buy my very own horse at the age of fifteen. By the age of nineteen I would enroll in one of the few Equestrian colleges found in the United States and at twenty-one years old I got my first International job working in Belgium for a 4-time Olympic Rider.
In 2011, I worked for a top Showjumping stables in Egypt, and although I landed—literally—in the midst of a revolution, I continued to work there for almost a year before landing a job at a 10 Million Euro facility in Romania. It was there that I competed in my first International competition, on various horses at different heights. (Jumping anywhere from 80cm to 1.40m depending on the age and training of the horse.) Recently, I found myself working in multiple stables throughout the country of India before fatefully landing the opportunity of a lifetime by coming to the country of Bhutan to oversee and start a horse riding program in Bumtang.
“That’s right. I ride horses for a living,” I smiled. The Bhutanese girls and women seemed excited at the idea of riding a horse, especially considering it was a woman they were looking at. They told me again and again that before me, they had thought horse-riding was only for the men.
“It’s a man’s sport!” They were told, and believed the words to be true.
“Horse riding,” I explained, “is the ONLY sport in the Olympics where men and women compete equally.”
My friendly hosts, Wind Horse Tours, had invited me into their country and riding stables to help them start a riding program. I was leaping with excitement at the thought of riding day and night from morning until evening on the beautiful landscape and riding trails that were found in Bumtang. My expectations were exceeded as I met the wonderful mountain ponies, selected specifically for the upcoming riding endeavor. Seven horses, six riders, two weeks and one incredible journey later and I have nothing but fond memories to share. I absolutely fell in love with the horses, the trails, the scenery, the staff at Wind Horse Tours, and of course, Bhutan.
Riding in the Himalayas on horseback is an experience more magical and breathtaking than any other feeling. You will visit temples and museums, explore villages, meet the locals, ride across rivers, bridges, ridges and trot through meadows. You will see the country the way it was meant to be seen, the way the founding fathers of long ago discovered Bhutan…atop a majestic horse.
We are seeking volunteer service of experienced and passionate horse ranchers and trainers to develop horse riding club and sports in Bhutan. Interested candidates contact us with details.