Youth of the week: Lon Sopheaktra

Youth of the week: Lon Sopheaktra


While some Cambodian teenagers spent their weekend hanging out with family, chatting with friends, or watching movies, since the age of 13 Lon Sopheaktra has been spending his weekends training to ride horses at the Cambodian Country Club (CCC).

Although his involvement in the Madox Chivan Children Centre, an organization founded by Angelina Jolie, introduced him to riding horses as a sport, he has taken his good fortune and worked relentlessly to improve his skills. In the last two years he has risen from a beginner to being a level 6 horseback rider, the highest level possible.

He said that his foreign trainers would often accuse him of lacking the motivation to practice and learn how to ride horses expertly, but he never got angry with them because he knew they just wanted his to be the best he could be. When he began riding horses, Lon Sopheaktra said that it was really hard not to make the horse surprised or excited, and even more difficult to get the horse to settle down afterwards.

“Even once we have learned to ride horses it can still be really hard,” said the grade 9th student at Chea Sim Samaky high school. “That’s why we have to learn to control them.”

Psychological issues were not the only problem that Lon Sopheaktra had to overcome over the past two years; he recalls one time in particular when he fell off a new horse and broke his arm upon hitting the ground. He said he knew how to ride horses, but the new horse at the stable, recently brought from Siem Riep, became so excited that even the trainers couldn’t control it.

Lon Sopheaktra began riding only on Fridays, but his trainers told him that he would need to practice more often if he wanted to be competitive in equestrian events, so he started to practice on Saturday and Sunday as well. It was this determination and effort that ultimately earned the 15-year-old an invitation to join two competitions in Thailand, including X-mas Jumping last December, in which 9 countries participated.

He said the abilities of the riders was not extraordinary, but that the horse that contestants ride makes the biggest difference. “Thai equestrians were better than us and contestants from other countries since they knew their horse, bought them and fed them every day,” he said.

During the competition in Thailand Lon Sopheaktra made a few small mistakes that ended up preventing him from winning, but he still took home 2nd place. He said he felt so proud to have the chance to learn to ride horses and go abroad to join competitions like football players and other athletes.

During the Norodom Sihanouk du Cambodge Championship, held at CCC last week, we was awarded second place in the top level competition called the Grand Prix.

He said that he hopes to continue to represent Cambodia in international events and build up his reputation in competitions in the country. Eventually, he hopes to improve his English and become a horse trainer.


  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not