October 22, 12 | Fumiko Magota
Welcome to the "Abashiri Gensei Ranch Sightseeing Center,” where you can enjoy a ride on one of their many gentle horses. To start your journey, the staff, which is made up of horse-lover Mr. Yukiteru Konishi and several Tokyo agricultural students, will go catch a horse for you to ride and gladly provide lessons and riding tips to whoever require them before you set out. From beginners to experienced riders, all are welcome here, so no matter your level you can enjoy a relaxing ride!
▲ Horses grazing peacefully. Because they are allowed to roam stress-free and graze year-round these horses have peaceful personalities.
So let's mount up and ride off into the sunset!
▲ A commemorative photo with Mr. Konishi and the ex-racehorse, Lily-chan.
After leaving the ranch through a forest of Japanese White Birch trees we trotted through fields of beets and wheat. I was soon surprised by several close encounters with wildlife, including wild birds and foxes. It seems that the barley being cultivated around this area will later be used in the making of Sapporo beer.
We crossed over a railway, through fields of thick, shoulder-high grass, and made our way out into the river, which was way deeper than I thought it would be! But while I may or may not have been freaking out, the horses calmly made their way through the waters.
▲ When I nervously glanced down at the feet of my horse I was quickly met with a "Don't look down!!" from our guide, Mr. Konishi. (lol)
Next we went out to see the ocean.
We made it to the ocean just in time to see the intense waves of full tide crashing along the coast. It was my first experience riding a horse out into the water and with the waves moving beneath me, although my horse was standing still, I had the strange sensation of moving. Quite a unique experience.
▲ The open air felt great!
▲ Lily-chan would occasionally drink the ocean water, which meant that she got extremely thirsty. I was a bit worried about her.
▲ The view from horseback is exceptional!
After playing in the ocean for a bit, we made our way back to the original trail and followed it back to the ranch. It seems that in winter this is the same trail used to go see the ice floe. I'll be sure to be back and tough out the cold air!
網走原生牧場観光センター (Abashiri Gensei Ranch Sightseeing Center)
Location: 225 Mokoto, Abashiri, Hokkaido
Price: 10,000 Yen
Coastal Course: Roughly 90 Minutes. Available from April to December.
Ice Floe Course: Roughly 90 Minutes. Available from January to March.
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)
(Photographs by Isao Kawamura)