Second Ride

August 9, 2016

A ride across Mandar Region (Youtube)




First Expedition

January 28, 2015

Salted Fish and Instant Noodle


The Equine Equator Expedition is undertaken with two horses whose origin can be traced back to the very soil of the equatorial Indonesia. One horse is a KPI (Kuda Pacu Indonesia, or Indonesian Race Horse), a cross-breed between local Sandalwood mares and imported Thoroughbred stallions. The other is a purebred Sandelwood pony whose ancestors came from Sumba Island. These two companions are able to exchange roles as the riding horse and pack animal. By using a modern racing horse and an ‘antique’ local pony, I imagined myself riding an historical vehicle that spatially connecting me to all corners of the earth where the clop of horses hooves can still be heard, an temporally transporting me to the near future of the earth and simultaneously to the late age of prehistoric times when mankind’s ancestors began to lay foundation for their cultures.

On the day commemorating the Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of Indonesia, August 17, 2014, the first stage of the Equine Equator Expedition began. Departing from the Pamulang Horse Farm, our party consisted of one rider and two horses moved towards Bogor, on to Puncak and Parongpong, and was planned to end in Sumba Island. On the second day I met a horse groom who, the next day, joined the expedition after I paid him three months wages in advance. Along the journey, I tried to turn my thoughts to the times of the dawn of civilization, but my body was dragged along by the horses stepping through the black arterial asphalt road, with the noisy markets and crammed houses like so much fat choking the blood vessels full of tense and unconcerned motorised passangers.

My efforts in search of lost time, to connect to that long-distant past were continuously trampled down by the reality of a world too full of today’s problems.

With my journey guided by a kind of strong nationalism (one of my horse is coincidentally named Merah Putih or Red-White, the color of Indonesian flag), I was forced to notice that the best and most impressive structure that I could find along the way were in fact the legacies of foreigners from the West.The neighbourhood of scientists at the Bogor Agricultural University, the pretty tea plantations of Puncak, the Bosscha Observatory’s dome in Lembang, and the horse stables at the headquarters of the Cavalry Detachment in Parongpong, all of this still bearing colonial fingerprints.The Indonesian people that I found along the way in general had yet to produce any impressive signs of their material wealth, that could be systematically shared around to enrich their knowledge and culture, and to improve the quality of life for all. Even their capacity to merely maintain and repair what was there seemed uneven and uninstitutionalized. But what made me want to continue the journey was that amongst the citizens that lived along the way, there were those sincerely tried to help me on my journey, treating me as a guest, even as a member of their family. Most of them were, of course, of advancing years, although it was not uncommon for young people to spontaneously offer me their hands. And children never fail to greet us with brimming enthusiasm which sometimes sent chill to our spine because those hysterical little fellows always swarmed from everywhere to squeeze and fondle the colts, ignoring that the animal might kick and bite. They were not people with impressive material wealth, but clearly they have in their limited possesion something that could helped me to be grateful to whatever comes into my way.


Children of Kartika Basic School, Parongpong, West Java, Indonesia

In the rock miners neighbourhood in Mount Masigit, Padalarang, West Java, we spent a night and were introduced to a number of residents whose walls and floors had been constantly harassed by local earth tremors that are always lurking. We spoke about many things, including the kinds of nocturnal insects that live in the rocky hills which produce a high pitched sound I have never heard before. The local told me that the insect’s name is Caricangkas. My host, Ibu Yati, about sixty-five years old, could only speak Sundanese, while I have only memorised two words of Sundanese: atur nuhun (thank you). However, the language barrier didn’t prevent her from welcoming us and kindly serving a plate of humble instant noodle and broken salted fish which I swallowed with relish. It was the most delicious meal I have ever enjoyed till then.

She refused the money I offered, and I was forced to leave it behind so she would find it. The walls of her house were also rich with deep cracks from the stubborn tremors that she had trid to cover up with cheap decorations. Her desire to embellish and to give, a desire older than the idea of the nation state, this seemed to be strong within her. The sincerity and generosity of this old women who didn’t speak Indonesian made me aware that the kind of spiritual wealth she possessed, in addition to her imagination and hope, was what had illuminated the powers that had decorated the walls of those pre-historic cave-walls with all kinds of figures, and opened the way for human culture and civilisation to find their form.

On the tenth day, we arrived at the head quarters of the Cavalry Detachment in Parongpong. My human friend along the journey acknowledged that he could no longer continue. I had anticipated that my friends would step down, and I took our party to Parongpong for this reason. I had hoped that at the headquarters of the Cavalry Detachment I would be able to recondition the horses and invite some officers and soldiers to join the expedition. Unfortunately, the horse soldiers at Parongpong were not prepared yet for such expedition. I had no one else I could trust to accompany me, on top of this the condition of one of the horses was declining sharply, forcing me to end this equestrian expedition temporarily.

Since I returned from my first journey last August, I have been training the horses to prepare them for the next expedition. If there are no obstacles, and the peak of the rainy season is already passed, I will continue the expedition to Sumba, with or without human companion. The first expedition have taught me a lesson that is also learned by many long riders: to have faith in the better side of human nature.***


Presented in Equator Symposium, The One and The Many: Ethic and Aesthetic Practices in Our 21st Century Democracy. Yogyakarta, November 17th – 18th 2014.

Art History

January 28, 2015

Tale of Two Horses


Horse is the most influential animal on the development of history. If there are three things that ushered in the dawn of human civilization, certainly they are: the creation of the alphabet, the discovery of the wheel, and the domestication of the horse. As was emphasized by Alfred Weber, the spreading of horse domestication as a mounted animal, and for hauling carriages, was the catalyst for the blooming of what Karl Jaspers called the Axial Age (die Achsenzeit) from the 8th to the 2nd centuries BC.

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Indonesian Cave Paintings

February 15, 2013

Paleolithic Horse

Horses of Kabori Cave

The Lascaux and Pech-Merle Cave of France, and Altamira Cave of Spain, will always pop up and come to fore every time people talk about cave paintings that present the figure of a horse. France and Spain are indeed home to many of the most well known cave paintings today.

Horses of Kabori Cave 2

Cave art with horse figures is surely not found only in France and Spain. In Indonesia, the paleolithic cave art that presents horse figures can be seen in the Liang Kabori of Muna Island, Southeast Sulawesi. The Liang Kabori or Gua Tulis in Indonesian Language which means The Cave of Inscription clearly indicates that the horse has been known to the ancestors of Muna People thousands of years ago. The Kabori Cave paintings even display that horses have been ridden and controlled with loop reins attached the horse’s mouth since prehistoric time, and become an important part of people’s lives.

The entrance of Kabori Cave of Muna, Southeast Sulawesi

The extraordinary importance of horse in the lives of Muna people is also immortalized in the photograph below taken at the first half of the 20th century. The photograph, belongs to the collection of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, beautifully displays the importance of horses along with the honorable position of women.

kuda dan perempuan muna sulawesi 1923

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Offshore offspring

January 24, 2013

Waler and Basuto Pony

Horse wooden Batak sculpture before 1940

It’s often mentioned that the Indonesian horses came from the ancestors that was originated from Central Asia, later upgraded by the infusion of Arab and Persian, and then European blood, especially English Thoroughbred. Interestingly, though rarely conveyed,  the Indonesian native breeds have also influenced the creation of new horse breed outside of the archipelago, across the other continent, in Australia and Africa.


The traces of Indonesian horse influence in Australia can be found in a poem written by Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, the romantic poet whose image is printed on the Australian $10 note. In the third stanza of his poem titled “The Man From Snowy River” there is the following lines:

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,

He was something like a racehorse undersized,

With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –

And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that will not say die –

There was courage in his quick impatient tread;

And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.


The poem was first published in The Bulletin, an Australian news magazine, on 26 April 1890. At that time, almost all islands east of Java were called “Timor”, including Sumbawa and Sumba where the famous hardy Sandalwood pony originated. Nearly a hundred years later the poem inspires the making of a movie with the same title. Made in 1982 and starred by Kirk Douglas, Jack Thompson, Tim Burlinson and Sigrid Thornton, the movie is now remembered as one of the best horse-movie of all time.

timor pony sergeant

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Ancient trot

January 23, 2013

Megalithic Horse

Patung kuda Toba

A thorough DNA research would need to be done if we are to make sure when and how the first horse appeared and spread across the Nusantara or Indonesian Archipelago. It is certain that horses have been known in Indonesian Archipelago since thousands of years ago. The figure of a horse either as a monolithic statue or as a part of a scene carved on a temple wall can be found in many part of the archipelago.

Patung kuda Flores

Among the valuable collection of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, that would surely draw the interest of the Indonesian horse aficionado is a pile of photographs taken around at the cross of the 19th and the 20th century when Indonesia was still under the Dutch colonial administration. A couple of those photographs immortalize the rectangular horse figures found in the area of North Sumatra which was once the roaming ground of the Gayoe and Batak Pony. This horse statues, carved from volcanic rock, seem to be trotting from antiquity, from megalithic era to be more precise.

Patung kuda di Balige Prapat

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The Malay Archipelago

December 12, 2012

Wallace and Horses


Alfred Russel Wallace, OM, FRS (8 January 1823 — 7 November 1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution by natural selection and co-publishing a paper on the subject with Charles Darwin in 1858. Wallace did extensive fieldwork, first in the Amazon River basin and then in the Malay Archipelago, where he identified the Wallace Line that divides the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts, an western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the birds and mammals are more similar to those of Australia. He was considered the 19th century’s leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the “father of biogeography”. Wallace was one of the leading evolutionary thinkers of the 19th century and made many other contributions to the development of evolutionary theory besides being co-discoverer of natural selection. These included the concept of warning colouration in animals, and the Wallace effect, a hypothesis on how natural selection could contribute to speciation by encouraging the development of barriers against hybridization. (From Wikipedia)


Below are some excerpts from “The Malay Archipelago”, Wallace’s most celebrated book, considered as one of the greatest scientific travel books ever written. It is praised both for its well-constructed survey description of the region in question, and for its scientific value to the professional naturalist. The excerpts are selected for mentioning “horse” in it. The illustrations are from other sources, mainly from The Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. The white man in the photograph is not Wallace himself.


Queen Maya retreating on horsecart

Travelling in Java is very luxurious but very expensive, the only way being to hire or borrow a carriage, and then pay half a crown a mile for post-horses, which are changed at regular posts every six miles, and will carry you at the rate of ten miles an hour from one end of the island to the other. Bullock carts or coolies are required to carry all extra baggage. As this kind of travelling would not suit my means, I determined on making only a short journey to the district at the foot of Mount Arjuna, where I was told there were extensive forests, and where I hoped to be able to make some good collections. The country for many miles behind Sourabaya is perfectly flat and everywhere cultivated; being a delta or alluvial plain, watered by many branching streams. Immediately around the town the evident signs of wealth and of an industrious population were very pleasing; but as we went on, the constant succession of open fields skirted by rows of bamboos, with here and there the white buildings and a tall chimney of a sugar-mill, became monotonous. The roads run in straight lines for several miles at a stretch, and are bordered by rows of dusty tamarind-trees. At each mile there are little guardhouses, where a policeman is stationed; and there is a wooden gong, which by means of concerted signals may be made to convey information over the country with great rapidity. About every six or seven miles is the post-house, where the horses are changed as quickly as were those of the mail in the old coaching days in England. (Chapter 7; 105)

Kedungbadak Bogor 1880 JC Rappard


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Cuplikan Memoar Bang Ali

December 11, 2012

Ali Sadikin dan Pacuan Kuda

Di bab 29 dari memoarnya yang bertajuk “Menggali Kekayaan Jakarta”, tertera kalimat-kalimat Ali Sadikin yang ditulis Ramadhan KH sebagai berikut:

Waktu itu timbul pikiran untuk mengadakan gelanggang pacuan kuda, terpikir oleh saya, siapa yang bisa membantu saya?

Bang Ali di Pulomas 1-2

Satu nama muncul di benak saya, yakni seseorang yang di mata saya amat suka pada kuda dan mempunyai pengetahuan banyak tentangnya. Yakni Pak Alex Kawilarang.

Sekian waktu ke belakang, waktu Permesta muncul, Pak Alex di pihak lain, sedang saya di pihak lainnya lagi. Tapi di mata saya Pak Alex adalah seseorang yang mempunyai pendirian, mempunyai kepribadian. Saya menghargainya. Dan terutama lagi, siapa yang tak kenal kepadanya jika kita di tahun-tahun revolusi fisik berada di Jawa Barat? Sebagai orang  asal Jawa Barat saya mengenal nama Alex Kawilarang. Pada saya sudah ada rasa simpatik kepadanya. Sebagai prajurit dia itu betul-betul prajurit sejati. Bahwa ia kemudian berpisah karena munculnya Permesta, itu saya lihat terutama disebabkan munculnya masalah pribadi yang letaknya di pusat hati, bukan disebabkan karena masalah prinsip. Saya percaya, ia masih tetap cinta pada Indonesia, pada sang Merah Putih. Dalam soal keadilan rupanya perasaannya terganggu. Begitulah ingatan saya tentangnya.

Alex Kawilarang

Maka tidaklah sulit munculnya nama itu di kepala saya. Dan saya ajak ia untuk mengatur soal pacuan kuda itu dari mulai persiapan sampai pembukaannya.

Untuk menampung segala kegiatan yang ada sangkut pautnya dengan pacuan kuda, termasuk usaha-usaha peternakan kuda, usaha totalisator  dan lainnya, saya bentuk Jakarta Racing Authorithy (JRA). Pengelolaannya dilakukan secara bekerja sama dengan suatu sindikat Australia, berdasarkan persetujuan sewa beli Hire Purchase Agreement 1970 antara Pemda DKI dan sindikat itu.

Sebagai wadah penyelenggaraan pacuan kuda dibentuk Jakarta Racing Management (JRM). Badan ini dimaksudkan sebagai suatu wadah pelaksana penyelenggaraan pacuan di bawah pengawasan dan pengendalian JRA.

Saya angkat Pak Alex Kawilarang sebagai Deputy Manager JRM Pulo Mas.

Gelanggang pacuan itu kami adakan di Pulo Mas, sebagai tempat rekreasi dan olah raga. Luasnya sekitar 80 Ha, dan menelan biaya 2,5 milyar rupiah. Ini merupakan sebagian dari proyek Pelita DKI.

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Of Sumba Horse

Arab sailors and traders with cargoes of ivory and spices first came to the island of the Indonesian Archipelago in the 6th century, and by the 16th century, Islam had become the region’s main religion. There were horses on Sumba even before the Arabs arrived. They were similar to those descended from the prehistoric wild horses of central Asia, but interbreeding with Arab stallions produced a small horse of more slender build. The breed became known as Sandalwood, because Sumba was called Sandalwood Island by early Europeans who visited it to collect the valuable timber of the same name. (Page 12)

Beneath the dense vegetation that covers the Indonesian Island of Sumba the heat is stifling. Matthias and his nephew Nellys are used to it, for they were born, 20 years apart, on this island situated in the eastern Indian Ocean. Ridja, the horse that Matthias most often rides, was born not far from the Village of Tarung, on the lush hillside where aling-aling, a nourishing type of grass, grows in abundance. Ridja is a small horse with a dainty head and a broad forehead, both of which signify Arab blood. (Page 11)

Wild Lives: Horseback Cultures from Idaho to Indonesia. By Sylvie Lebreton and Tibo.

Hachette UK (Sep 2003),  Octopus USA (Dec 2003). Hardcover. 242 pages.

Buffalo Horse

October 22, 2012

Reliable Partner

After searching for the right road horse for more than half a year, I finally bought my first riding horse few weeks ago. He is an ex-racer colt and was born in Padang, West Sumatra. December 27, 2007 is his birthday, sired by Snap Happy (TB Aus) out of Nefertari Sumbar (G2). He was slightly underweight the first time I saw and rode him, but I bought him the very next day mainly because of the good manners he displayed. Unlike most of racehorses, he is calm and easy to handle. He knows how to gallop, no doubt, and yet his former groom called him a kuda kebo or buffalo horse. Actually he is not as docile as a water buffalo, although he is just as obedient and reliable.  His only vice is his love to chew and undo his tied rope. Now after he puts up some weight and his coat shiny, he still behaves more like a gelding rather than a savage young stallion aggressively eager to cover any mares he sets eyes on. According to the paper issued by the Indonesian Horse Registry, his name is Century Get, but I prefer to call him Buyung, meaning “kiddo” in Sumatran vernacular language. He stands 16.2 hands high.

Lately, the West Sumatra Province where Buyung was bred, has made its mark on Indonesian horse breeding landscape as the most promising area in producing champions. Inspired partly by this fact, I consider to change the destination of the first leg of my horse expedition across the Archipelago. A couple of months ago my first destination was still Sumba Island, hoping that I would find suitable and affordable road horses whose close maternal ancestor came from the famous Sumba Island. Now, Sumba Island might be moving down on the waiting list becoming the destination of my second expedition. Let’s see. I will make up my mind in a week o two.

Actually, Madam Oetari Soehardjono, the most influential horse breeder in Indonesia whose farm is known as the Home of the Indonesian Standard Race Horse, has expressed her willingness to give me two horses for the expedition. The Indonesian Standard Race Horse or Kuda Pacu Indonesia (KPI) is a new breed, bred mainly from Sumba mares and Southern Hemisphere Thoroughbred stallions. Anyhow, Madam Soehardjono asked me to postpone the expedition and wait for another year. That’s because the KPI horses she bred and considered fit for this expedition have all been sold, while the remaining horses she has in her farm now are mostly pregnant mares with yearlings and stallions that are not trained to be a road horse. She hopes that in one year, a couple of her young KPI horses would grow into road horses fit for this expedition. Of course I thank her for her generous offer, but the idea of postponing the expedition for one whole  year is almost unbearable to me.

Timbangan Buku

September 18, 2012

Menghormati Tradisi Memuliakan Tanahair

Dua dekade yang silam, terbit sebuah buku berbahasa Indonesia yang sampul depannya dihias penuh dengan foto kepala kuda Sumba berwarna  hitam.  Di mulut si Hitam terpasang kendali buatan lokal yang ditautkan dengan tali temali yang dijalin secara tradisional.  Jalinan kendali berwarna cerah yang kontras dengan kulit dan surai itu bukan saja membuat si Hitam terlihat makin ganteng, tapi juga tampak seperti menghimpun tenaga yang siap berkobar. Memang, hanya kuda yang akan atau sedang bekerja yang biasanya dipasangi kendali — entah ia bekerja menarik beban, atau membawa penunggangnya maju ke medan tempur. Dengan memilih sampul yang menghadirkan berbagai unsur tadi, buku mewah berkertas tebal itu jelas membocorkan niatnya untuk tak hanya memberi penghormatan pada tradisi, pada yang lokal. Sampul itu terang menunjukkan agenda untuk sekaligus bekerja memuliakan apa yang diwariskan oleh tradisi dan Tanahair.

Di Majalah Matra No. 56, edisi Maret 1991, Ricardo I. Yatim mengulas buku yang berjudul “Kuda” tersebut. Ricardo mengutip pengakuan penyusunnya, Oetari Soehardjono, bahwa buku itu memang dikerjakan untuk ikut “melestarikan kuda asli Indonesia, sebagai salah satu jenis binatang yang perlu mendapat perhatian kelangsungan hidup di Indonesia, dan memuliakannya guna dijadikan jenis pacu dan olah raga berkuda yang tangguh.”

Buah dari upaya panjang untuk melestarikan sekaligus memuliakan kuda asli Indonesia itu, ditunjukkan dalam buku baru yang juga diterbitkan oleh Yayasan Pamulang Equestrian Centre.  Buku yang juga dirancang dan dicetak untuk bertahan lama itu diberi judul panjang “Kejuaraan Pacuan Kuda Pordasi (Persatuan Olah Raga Berkuda Seluruh Indonesia) Tahun 1966 – 2011”.

Di sampul buku ke dua itu tampak seekor kuda dengan karakter lokal yang masih membayang kuat. Di dalam tubuhnya memang mengalir darah kuda Priangan. Ia bernama Dewi Karunia II, induk dari Pesona Karunia, pemegang gelar juara Piala Pertiwi dan Derby Indonesia 2005. Yang menarik pada sampul itu adalah bayangan si kuda yang tampak jatuh pada bidang datar yang tegak. Bayangan itu menghadirkar sosok seekor kuda pacu yang tampak berlari, dengan seorang joki di punggungnya yang seperti bekerja melambatkan laju sang kuda, mungkin setelah berpacu melewati garis kemenangan.

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Latihan Bersama

September 18, 2012

Bosscha, Jarmusch, Nusantara, dll.

Selasa, 4 September, 2012, adalah hari yang layak dicatat dalam blog persiapan Espedisi Kuda Khatulistiwa. Siang itu, untuk pertama kali, saya dan Pak Billy Mamola (BM), berkuda bersama, menuju puncak salah satu bukit di lereng Gunung Tangkuban Perahu. Kami berangkat dari kandang kuda Kawasan Wisata d’Ranch. BM memilih menunggang si Woody, kuda lokal berwarna dragem dengan surai yang tebal rimbun. Langkah si mungil bulat ini sungguh mantap dan teratur.

Saya mulanya diberi pilihan tiga ekor kuda. Pertama adalah seekor kuda betina yang memiliki perawakan paling besar di antara ketiganya. Kuda ini ditawarkan karena saya memang lebih suka menunggang kuda yang berukuran besar. Kadang-kadang perasaan miris muncul di benak saya jika harus menunggang kuda lokal yang kecil. Alasan lain ditawarkannya kuda betina yang punya tinggi sekitar 150 cm itu adalah karena langkahnya yang ritmis. Karena salah satu mata si betina tampak sedikit belekan, saya jadi tak tega untuk menunggangnya. Walau sudah diterangkan bahwa si betina itu hanya mengidap alergi ringan yang segera bisa pulih, saya putuskan kuda ini lebih baik beristirahat saja.

Arif, salah seorang perawat kuda-kuda BM, lalu menawari seekor kuda belang (pinto, skewbald) bernama Balance. Saya langsung suka karena ia tampak aktif. Ternyata si belang memang sangat aktif dan rajin meringkik sambil mengangkat kedua kaki depannya. Belakangan BM memberitahu bahwa si belang itu dulunya adalah kuda Renggong yang memang dididik untuk sering berdiri dengan dua kaki belakang saja. Ketika saya hendak menunggang si belang yang kuku-kukunya sengaja tak dipasangi ladam logam, saya menangkap sedikit rona cemas di mata Mba Heni, salah seorang pengelola usaha BM yang mengatur pilihan kuda-kuda untuk saya tunggangi. Saya pun meminta pertimbagan BM, dan ia menyarankan untuk memilih kuda yang lebih kalem yakni Red Wine, kuda lokal yang berwarna napas (chesnut). Adapun si belang akhirnya ditunggangi oleh Arif yang ikut menemani kami dalam trek ini.

Setelah melangkah, sesekali menderap, melalui jalan raya beraspal, kami akhirnya mendaki lereng Tangkuban Perahu yang dihiasi dengan hamparan kebun bunga dan sayur mayur. Dari puncak bukit, kota Lembang tampak terhampar membuka diri di bawah sana. Gedung bulat Pengamat Bintang Bosscha, yang penuh sejarah dan sejauh ini satu-satunya observatorium besar di Asia Tenggara, terlihat agak merapat ke kaki langit. Melewati puncak bukit yang membuat dada terasa lapang itu, kami bergerak menembus masuk hutan. Pokok-pokok cemara tegak berdiri sela menyela. Perjalanan menyusur jalan setapak di antara batang-batang pohon mengingatkan saya pada film western Jim Jarmusch yang berjudul Dead Man (1995), ketika kedua tokoh utamanya bergerak menempuh hutan aspen dan seqoia menuju tepian Samudra Pasifik.

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Selayang Pandang

August 11, 2012

Sejarah Ringkas KPI

Pembentukan jenis kuda baru yang sesuai dengan idaman adalah bagian dari sejarah dan kebudayaan manusia. Bahkan bisa dikatakan bahwa penjinakan dan pembiakan selektif kuda untuk mendapatkan yang terbaik adalah bagian dari kegiatan manusia yang, bersama dengan penciptaan aksara dan penemuan roda, telah menyingsingkan fajar peradaban manusia. Seperti ditandaskan Alfred Weber dan Karl Jaspers, meluasnya domestikasi kuda sebagai hewan pacu dan penarik kereta adalah penyebab mekarnya die Achsenzeit (sumbu sejarah), di sekitar abad ke-8 hingga abad ke-3 SM.

Keberhasilan penciptaan bangsa atau rumpun (breed) kuda baru yang sesuai dengan kebutuhan, akan membuat masyarakat penciptanya memiliki keunggulan yang tak dimiliki oleh masyarakat lain. Keunggulan paling nyata adalah kekuatan militer. Namun demikian, penciptaan breed baru bukanlah hal yang gampang. Tapi karena nilai dari penciptaan breed baru itu demikian besar, berbagai cara dapat ditempuh, sejak dari cara diplomasi hingga ke penyelundupan dan serbuan militer. Kaum yang berhasil mendatangkan kuda unggul dan menciptakan breed baru, mendapat tempat yang sangat terhormat di masyarakatnya.

Di jaman modern, upaya penciptaan breed baru yang paling terkenal dan berakibat luas adalah penciptaan Thoroughbred. Seluruh kuda Thoroughbred modern di dunia dapat dilacak silsilahnya ke tiga pejantan yang didatangkan dari Timur Tengah ke Inggeris pada akhir abad ke-17 dan awal abad ke-18. Ketiga pejantan itu adalah: Byerley Turk (1680an), Darley Arabian (1704), dan Godolphin Barb (1729). Pejantan lain dari Negeri-negeri Timur meninggalkan pengaruh yang tidak terlalu besar, walaupun juga telah memberi sumbagan penting. Menurut catatan, sekitar 160 ekor pejantan yang berasal dari Negeri-negeri Timur, telah berjasa dalam penciptaan breed Thoroughbred.

Di Indonesia, impian untuk menciptakan kuda idaman yang sesuai keadaan alam dan masyarakat, telah muncul bahkan sebelum Kemerdekaan. Namun upaya sitematis dari Bangsa Indonesia sendiri yang hendak mewujudkan impian itu, baru muncul pada dekade 1960-an. Impian yang menggerakkan upaya sistematis adalah juga menciptakan kuda pacu seperti Thoroughbred, namun yang memiliki identitas Indonesia, yang bisa disebut sebagai Kuda Pacu Indonesia (KPI)


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Native and New Breed

August 10, 2012

Indonesian Pony and Horse

Per capita, Indonesia may have the most pony breeds of all countries. The ponies of Indonesia are quite similar in ancestry, but have been shaped over the years to meet local needs from island to island.

The origin of Indonesian ponies is very ancient. Groeneveld cited a great deal of literature regarding China in his book, Het Paard in Nederlandsch-Indie (1916). During the T’ang Dinasty (627 – 649) the Chinese presented several horses to the King of Java as gifts. Later, during the Yuan or Mongol Dinasty (1280 to 1736) the imperial Chinese cavalry landed near Tuban, in Java. When they were driven away by Raden Wijaya’s army who founded the Kingdom of Majapahit, the defeated cavalry left their though and precious mount behind. From this sources, it was concluded that Indonesian ponies were descended directly from Mongolian, from which most Chinese horses are in part descended. It is also known that China obtained horses centuries prior to that time from Ferghana (Turkmenistan) and other area of western Asia to cross with their native horses. Exact identification of the horse breeds introduced by the Chinese to Indonesia is not possible yet.

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August 6, 2012

Equator Equine Expedition

Ekspedisi Kuda Khatulistiwa or Equator Equine Expedition is a horse expedition across the tropical Indonesian Archipelago. Indonesia lies between latitudes 11°S and 6°N, and longitudes 95°E and 141°E. It consists of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited. These are scattered over both sides of the equator. The largest are Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan (shared with Brunei and Malaysia), and Papua (shared with Papua New Guinea).

The expedition will travel across Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and nearby islands. For hundreds of years, the inhabitants of Indonesian Archipelago were famous as seafarers. River and ocean are their transport and communication links. They even have been producing perahu sandeq, the swiftest traditional boat in the world.  Anyhow, Indonesia also produces some native ponies and for centuries these tough ponies used to serve as the major mode of transportation especially for those who live off the generosity of the land.

There will be at least two riders in this expedition, Nirwan Ahmad Arsuka and Billy Mamola. Nirwan has been planning and working out the preparation of the expedition since 2010. For Nirwan, the expedition will be something similar to a pilgrimage, a journey to some remote and overlooked parts of Indonesia as well as a visit his childhood, for the oldest memory he has is his horseback riding across the idyllic forest and mountain of Lajoanging, South Sulawesi, with his grandpa behind him who held his grandson tight  in his stomach, an infant aged no more than two years who was struggling to resist  the unmerciful bite of saddle sores.

Billy Mamola is an extraordinary person, a horseman through and through. If there was a religion based on horse worshipping than Billy is one of the prophets. He can show the path to enlightenment and transformation through the way of horsemanship. On Aug. 10, 2008, with a pony from Sumba Island, Billy achieved a MURI (Indonesia Record Museum) record for a marathon journey on horseback, riding more than 602 kilometers over 12 days. For this equator equine expedition, which will cover distance more than 1900 kilometers, Billy will provide a couple of horses he chooses from the herd he rises on his ranch. The horses are the offspring of the Sumba pony he rode and the Sumba ponies given by  the Sumba people for proving the endurance power of their famous native breed. More about Pak Billy is here in The Jakarta Post.

The first expedition is planned to hit the road in November or December 2012. Starting from Jakarta, the capital, it may take time as long as two months and cover at least 1200 miles across Java, Bali, Lombok,  Sumbawa, and Sumba Island.

The second expedition is planned to travel across Sumatra Island, while the third across Sulawesi and neighboring islands.


June 27, 2012

First Training

Training session in Gunung Salak, Bogor

This picture was taken few months ago, back when I have my first training to undertake a horse expedition across the Indonesian Archipelago.  The first expedition is planned to cover about 1200 miles distance from the Capital, Jakarta, to the cradle of the most famous Indonesian local horse breed, the Sandalwood pony, which is on Sumba and Sumbawa Islands.