Horse Neglect in Indonesia - Tourists Find Another Ride 🐎 My Deztination

The unspoken affects of tourism in Indonesia

After traveling to Indonesia and experiencing the interesting culture, styles, food and beaches, I was hooked.

The unique architecture, the universal ease of communication and the first class level hospitality, I was under the self-impression that Bali and the Gili Islands could do no wrong.

I felt like I had found my own little special slice of paradise.


Seeing the Neglect First Hand

I was surprised when I arrived on Gili Trawangan Island and was immediately surrounded by locals aggressively soliciting mini horse-&-buggy rides.

Exhausted travelers desperately handed over their luggage to be transported to their hotels on an island smaller than a few football fields.

I watched patiently as 4, 5, 7 passengers with their giant pieces of luggage climbed in the back of these carriages, pulled by malnourished horses no larger than the average pony.

Dressed in all the bells and ribbons to appear visually appealing to unsuspecting tourists, the animals jumped to the slash of a whip, often pulling 3 times their limit in weight as fast and far as their owners will push them.

Photo credit: The Dodo



The horses were exhausted. Each of them had their bits tied a bit too tight, panting excessively, ribs protruding and no fresh water in sight.

Photo credit: The Dodo



Abused and neglected, these horses were showing the wear and tear from the constant hours pounding the pavement for a thriving tourism demand. 

Photo credit: The Dodo


What I Did Next

I asked my friend how far the hotel was.

“One Kilometer, max.” he says.

“We’re walking.”

There was no way in hell I was contributing the clear tourist trap exploiting these animals for a few mere rupiah.

We were walking.


The Sad Truth About Tourism

It was then I’d realized the pattern among the tourism industry in Southeast Asia: locals were exploiting natural resources, children and endangered species for quick cash from eager tourists uneducated about the affects of the tourist industry.

I wondered how I could even do anything to change this.

I can’t hold up a sign on the beach by the locals selling the horse-&-buggy rides, trying to educate the tourists while advocating for the exhausted horses.

I’d get kidnapped.

Or worse…

But that’s when I’d realized I was already doing something.

By simply not riding the horses, not contributing to the demand, I was ever so slowly making an impact on the product being supplied – the horses.


What You Can Do

My best suggestion when you are traveling is always be aware of the type of tourist activity you choose.

Ask yourself, is it really eco-friendly?

Am I making a greater negative impact on the environment than the positive impact of my personal experience?

Do I really need to take this horse-&-buggy ride or can I walk the few hundred feet to my hotel room?

Listen, I understand.

You don’t want to spend your entire trip wondering if each activity is something you should or shouldn’t do. 

However take a second to consider your impact.

Remember nothing can be observed without being changed, so your presence in this other country is making an impact.

Consider making a good one.


…And Don’t Forget to Share

Social media can have the largest impact BY FAR on educating people about similar causes.

Think of a way to share your experiences and perceptions, and have fun with it

People love interesting, inspiring, educational posts!

Find a way to get your message across in a positive way, keeping the reader’s attention while inspiring them to do something different.

I hope this article inspired you!

If you have any questions about the Deztinations I’ve been to, tips on travel, exciting volunteer experiences or would like to partner for a cause, send me a message or visit my website!


And remember, you are only one decision away from a totally different life.


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To show you how to travel the world on a budget,
& truly make a difference while doing it.
— Dez

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