On the Job with Nihiwatu’s Horse Whisperer

  • Carol Sharpe on a beach ride, one of the resort's most popular equestrian activities.

    Carol Sharpe on a beach ride, one of the resort's most popular equestrian activities.

  • Nihiwatu's stables.

    Nihiwatu's stables.

  • Sumba style on horseback,

    Sumba style on horseback,

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Aside from its great surf and Pasola war festival, Indonesia’s Sumba Island is known for its horses, bred here since the 18th century. Thanks to Carol Sharpe, the Sandalwood Stables manager at Sumba’s Nihiwatu resort, guests can get to know the equines during rides around the island’s southwest coast—or lessons in horse whispering.

Finding horses for Nihiwatu was an adventure. Sumba’s horses are small, and I traveled quite a few kilometers on promises of having a big animal to look at, only to be presented with yet another 1.2-meter pony. But there are some that have been crossbred with Australian thoroughbreds, and this is the gene pool I’ve sourced from.

Sumbanese horses adapt to change quickly and rarely flinch at things that would freak out horses elsewhere. They’re also very willing, and extremely easy to love.

Our horse whisperer sessions teach guests to observe how horses communicate with each other and in turn practice this behavioral language to connect with them. Horses are very receptive to the emotional energy and atmosphere we emit. The best interactions occur when you’re in a more open, less distracted state of mind.

Our most popular experience is the Sunset Beach Ride; there’s nothing like watching the sun sink into the sea from the back of a horse. —Gabrielle Lipton

This article originally appeared in the December/January print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Easy Rider”)


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