Watching the stunning sunset and enjoying a gentle chocolate mousse covered with fruits and topped up with smooth dark chocolate souse garnished with a mint leaf, we spend couple hours in Joshua District restaurant enjoying the conversation with Simone, owner of Salty cowboy.
In the heart of Kedungu, just 900 meters away from the beach, there is a place full of love, fun, and horses called Salty cowboy. Started as a dream of one incredibly cherished girl from Holland, now it’s the home for 11 horses that have been rescued.
She opened the stables in February 2019 but the whole story started a long time ago. “Since I was a kid, I brought home animals that needed help — birds, dogs, and whoever I could find. It was my dream to help the horses”, Simone tells.
Simone grew up in the countryside and later moved to Amsterdam, she lived all over the world before she ended up in Bali with the concept of Salty cowboy.
By helping she means not only grooming and training. Here is the thing, all the horses in Salty Cowboy are rescued. Simone is buying them from the owners. The horses were not in a fortunate position when she bought them and brought them to the stables for rehabilitation. “Either they were misunderstood by the owners and sometimes beaten or working too hard, they all come in traumatized in some way. And I like to use all my experience and all my knowledge to heal it”, she adds.
Except for a deep love for the animals, Simone spent years in horse competitions and doing graphic design at the same time. Her life has changed while she was living in Thailand. “I started to work with problem horses while I’ve been living in Bangkok. But it was not my stable and during that period of time I started to think about what I really want”, she explains.
Once she went to Java. “I saw all these horses in there who’ve been treated ‘differently’ than i used to. I got back to the car crying. Then I realized that if I really want to do something, I need to dry my tears and go there with respect to the owners to help these horses. I gave up my graphic design, called to all my customers, sold all and everything and now we are here”, Simone smiles. She smiles all the time. And even if she’s not, you may see these cute signs of a happy person around her eyes.
“I made it clear: I have a little bit of money and I will put it all, and this is what I want”.
It’s 11 horses in here now and they all are from Java, to get a bit of the distance from the owners — in that case, they will have no idea where the horse is going to end up. They all are quite young, about 4 till 6 years old. “We rehabilitate them first, trying to make them forget what happened in their past. We start with lots of love and attention for the first few weeks to see how they develop, if they are ready to trust people again. As soon as they start to trust, we take them to the arena and just play with them, start to put the saddle on them”, Simone explains.
The rehab process is very different for every horse. Simone pointing on the brown horse in the first bars: “Loempia was the first one. When we brought him, he lay down on the bed and slept for three days in a row. I thought “God, what did I just buy? This horse is sick or what?”. But after three days he stood up and I took him in the arena and he was there like “I’ll do anything for you, just tell me what to do!”. This horse was so grateful that he could finally lay down on a soft bed and just sleep. Before he probably was tied up or had to sleep in his own shit. But he is more like an exception. Most of them need more time, about two or three months at least”.
“I want to share with people that you can have a lot of fun with horses without competing, just spending a good time together”, and when Simone is talking about the fun she actually means it. One of the brightest moments was on the 3rd JD anniversary when they did a race on the coast. Lukas (co-owner and ideologist of Joshua District) was riding a motorbike and Aep was riding the horse, Aramis. Guess who won?
Quarantine affects everyone and Salty cowboy is not an exception. “There is hardly any income now. We have a couple of regulars who are still taking some private lessons and the rest comes from people who help with donations. For the horses’ nothing’s changed, they still need exactly the same care as ever. On top of that, we have extra work because horses need to move every day. The care in the tropics is extra even during usual times: you need to wash and brush them daily, there are tiny flies that go into the skin and it can itch. We clean the boxes two times per day, we feed them 6 times per day”, Simone explains.
Also, Salty cowboy is doing a lot of medical care by themselves. “Aep is our stable manager who knows a lot. When the horse might be sick, or if they don’t eat the food he knows what to do. Plus, we do a lot of meds in a natural way with herbs and for skin problems, we use great Indonesian oils”.
To survive, Salty cowboy is providing virtual riding donations, where people can donate, and Salty cowboy takes a horse on a beach for a ride and mentions these people in their Instagram posts. They also provide “Corona packages” with prices lower than usual.
”I choose Kedungu. When I just came to Bali, I was living in Canggu but it’s so busy there and I could not have any access to the beach. I drove farther to find the land. I have even been to Balian, but this exact place was the best one, I could feel it. We have a beach that is very quiet, which is really great, and not every stable can provide riding in front of the ocean. People are coming here to ride our horses from everywhere — Ubud, Sanur, Seminyak”
Salty cowboy has a maximum capacity for 15 horses.
They provide boots and helmets and have a room with a shower in case of need. “We only ask people to wear long pants if they have it. If not they can borrow some of mine”, Simone smiles.
The whole house and stable are designed by Simone. “It’s a lot of thoughts behind the size of the stables and how they are designed. For example how doors in the bars are made. They are open so that the horses can see each other’s legs. They like that, cos in nature when they are grazing they are watching each other’s legs, so if there’s a danger they will see it with special moves. The wood in between is for them to have a bit of privacy while they are eating”, Simone explains.
Answering about the name Simone smiles even more: ”My nickname was cowboy since I was a little kid. So since I chose this exact place I wanted to ride on the beach, that was my dream. This is where the “salty” comes from. Plus, if you will lick any of us after the ride, you will feel that salty taste cos you’re always sweaty. And it sounds really cool!”
Salty Cowboy Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/salty.cowboy/
Writer: Valerie Noiman