Spending the day with horses at a Singapore HeritageFest 2023 programme

I got to interact with horses and watch a live show jumping demonstration.

Kelly Chin

Gets emotionally attached to fictional characters.

Published: 11 May 2023, 5:51 PM

The annual Singapore HeritageFest (SHF), organised by the National Heritage Board (NHB), made its return on May 1 and will run till May 28. This year, the festival’s focus is on sports and transport heritage and history

Out of the wide range of programmes curated, I was able to experience Wheels on the Bus: Horses & Heritage in Singapore.

There, I got a full tour of the new Bukit Timah Saddle Club grounds at Kranji since its move from the old location at Bukit Timah on Feb 25.

Bukit Timah Saddle Club was set up in 1951 as a place for retired race horses to be retrained with other skills to represent Singapore in international competitions. 

The tour granted me access to the competition grounds where the club holds training and monthly friendly competitions. At the site, we were treated to a live demonstration of two types of equestrian sports – show jumping and Dressage – where the horse and rider have to perform a series of manoeuvres, trots and canters.

After the live demonstrations, we also got to have a small chat with Predrag Marjanovic who represented Singapore in show jumping during the 2015 SEA games. He shared with us fun facts about his horse while they posed for photos.


Show jumping showcases the accuracy, agility and speed with timing of the horse-rider combination. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KELLY CHIN


While walking back to the main building, we were introduced to the vehicle used to transport horses from one venue to another. When the tour guide revealed that the maximum speed of the vehicle is 50km/h, it was met with laughter from all the tour participants.


One of these carriages can hold four horses, along with other supplies such as water and hay. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KELLY CHIN


Throughout the tour, the guide shared about the Saddle Club’s rich 72-year history. On display were pictures of competing riders and horses from as early as 1984.


The tour guide explained that, while they wanted to digitise these photos, some of the older ones could not be taken out of the frame without damage. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KELLY CHIN


One of the main highlights of the tour was when we visited the naturally ventilated stables where we got to interact and pet the horses. For our safety, we were instructed by a handler on the proper way to pet the horses and how to approach them to avoid getting bitten or kicked.


The handler explained not to approach the horse from the back and to pet the nose and cheek of the horse. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KELLY CHIN


The horses were generally very curious and quite friendly. While most of them towered over me, they were very gentle. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/KELLY CHIN


The Saddle Club has 78 horses, including those from the riding school, as well as privately owned animals.

While Wheels on the Bus: Horses & Heritage in Singapore is fully booked, festival goers can look forward to a similar tour, Bukit Timah Turf Club Walking Tour happening on May 20 at $50 per pax. There are two sessions to choose from, at 10am and 1pm.

For an air-conditioned and art centric tour experience, festival goers can opt for Art in Transit, a guided tour of the four key artworks that were commissioned by MRT stations along the Northeast Line. At $20 per pax, Art in Transit has two remaining sessions on May 13 at 10am and May 14 at 2pm.

Other than tours, SHF also offers film screenings, including the third edition of Cinema Reclaimed: DRIVING, KICKING, AND PUNCHING! on May 14, 21, 28 at Oldham Theatre. There are two timings to choose from, 2pm and 5pm. The film gives audiences a glimpse at how Singapore’s sports and transport have been shown in local cinema.   

The full list of programmes can be found on the Singapore HeritageFest website.

You may like these