Wright Park Riding Circle
The reason I love Baguio (oh, well there are many, many reasons but this is #1) is because I can ride a horse and explore the mountains and hills of Benguet on any given day!
One of my earliest childhood memories is Wright Park when I was about 6 or 7 years old during one of my first trips the Summer Capital of the Philippines.
I remember that it was a pretty large black horse that was a little frisky that I first rode -- and what a rush it was for me to ride like the wind. That was when I KNEW I was in love with the place and that I would one day live here!
Of course the hourly rates for horse rides four decades later have changed from the Php5.00 it was in the 1970s, and there are now other riding areas in the City of
Pines, but the most popular venue for horseback riding for visitors and locals alike is still Wright Park Riding Circle, where are always 200 horses to choose from.
Let me tell you more about one of my favorite places in Baguio City -- and some tips and tricks about enjoying an exhilarating ride on horseback for you and members of your family.
Wright Park or Ride Park?
Wright Park is located right across The Mansion (the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines) with the beautiful, and much photographed Pool of the Pines. Wright Park Riding Circle located within the flat and wide triangle below it where 200 horses are available for hire. Little kids often refer to the riding area as "Ride Park" because of the horses of course -- after all, they have no idea who Luke E. Wright is, after whom the park is named (you can read a bit about him at Americans and Baguio City if you like).
This is the riding area for beginners.
Parents prefer to treat their young children to a hour's pony ride here, where they can be observed, photographed and videoed althroughout.
There is an inner circle for walking horses and an outer circle for the running horses. Only pony boys are allowed in the Riding Circle, parents and yayas (nannies) will just have to use zoom lens.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Riding Circle, although it is part of Wright Park should only have horses, riders and guides in the riding area, while everyone else must watch using the viewing decks and benches.
I once actually screamed (yup, screamed) at a yaya who was in the riding area pushing a stroller with her ward in it, half a minute from getting trampled upon by a bunch of horses and riders, to "GET OUT OF THERE!" Did she actually think that a ring filled with horses was a promenade for babies in strollers?
"Pony Boy" guides.
Usually the horse owner himself, or his assistant, will watch the horse and rider at all times. He can lead the horse, walk alongside it or ride behind the child for the latter's protection and enjoyment of a faster ride. The pony boys are experienced handlers, as their fathers were before them.
Oh, and by the way, please don't take the 'boy' literally -- most of the Pony Boys are grown men, some are grandfathers even!
The grooviest and nicest Pony Boy I would recommend is Scott. He knows how to take care of his customers -- looks more like an Indian than a cowboy, by the way. The more seasoned Pony Boys are Adonis and Julius. These men have large horses that run well.
The Pony Boys are professional -- they do not cheat you, they keep the correct time as far as your hour is concerned. As a default, I would recommend you choose the older and more experienced ones. They usually own the better horses, too.
Should you tip the Pony Boys after a ride?
They will never say no to a Coke, or maybe some ice cream, or even cheap lunch at Cowboy's Haven. But tipping is up to the customer and definitely not required.
I just usually extend my hours at Wright Park Riding Circle by 'interviewing' the Pony Boys and talking for a few more hours about horses. Building a relationship with them as a regular customer ensures that they offer you the best rides every time!
"Oh, but I don't want a fast horse for my child!"
Oh there are many "walking" horses, too. Choose a horse that is proportionate in size to your child. It would be better if you asked around first or observed other riders before choosing one. You may also want to read Ponies With Pink Hair that was published at my old blog that I have included recently as one of GoBaguio!'s articles.
How much does an hour on horseback cost these days?
I remember that in the early 1970s, an hour on horseback was just Php5.00, which was about a day's wages in the Philippines!
Four decades later (2012 rates), an hour on horseback will cost about Php400.00 -- still cheap considering how much it costs to maintain a horse (ever hear the phrase "eats like a horse?"), still about a day's salary for minimum wage earners.
Still cheap compared to the Php600 they charge in other tourist destinations in the Philippines, like Tagaytay or Subic, where horse rides are offered, too. And yet the temperatures here are way cooler -- perfect for exploring the surrounding hills of Baguio or just riding around the Riding Circle.
Horses in the Philippines cannot usually take the heat of high noon but in Baguio City, horses can be ridden at all hours of the day!
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