The Jakarta Post
Dozens of horses were tied up under lush trees at Plembon Market in Klaten, Central Java, while prospective buyers were moving across the market to inspect the animals accompanied by their owners.
Deals after deals were made from the morning to the afternoon. The market is known as the go-to place for various animals, including cows, sheep, goats and birds. Each kind of animal is sold on particular days in accordance with the Javanese calendar.
In November, Plembon Market began to sell horses. The animals are available every Pon day, attracting buyers and sellers from cities such as Yogyakarta, Central Java’s Ambarawa and Karanganyar, East Java’s Pacitan and Blitar, as well as towns around Klaten.
Warsito, acting head of the market, said Plembon had become the second horse market in Indonesia after Jeneponto in South Sulawesi. "We established this market for horse lovers, where they can have secure and comfortable communication and transactions," he said.
He added that many horse enthusiasts had tried online transactions but had been disappointed upon finding that horses they had bought were not as advertised. “That may explain the warm response to Plembon," he said.
Fifty to 100 horses change hands at the market on a typical day. Most are used for tourism, for instance to pull tourist carts. Prices start at Rp 15 million (US$1,068) per horse.
There are also superior breeds for connoisseurs, and the market management has been working on selling race horses.
For the convenience of buyers and traders, the management provides a veterinarian to help assess the animals' health. The service is offered for free.
Veterinarian Agung Dwi Riyanti of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta said the service she provided in Plembon included a general checkup and a pregnancy test with the help of an ultra-sonography (USG) device.
“Horses in good condition can be identified by their movements and healthy appetite," said Agung, adding that advance health checks were also available at the market.
The Plembon horse market also sells andong (four-wheeled wooden carts) and dokar (two-wheeled carts) at Rp 3 million per piece, with accessories like bells, lamps, wheels, bridles, eye covers and saddles available for purchase as well.
Growing public interest in environmentally friendly transportation could contribute a great deal to the Plembon horse market, despite motorized vehicles being the preferred mode of transportation in the country.
In parts of Klaten, horse-drawn carts are still popular a means of transportation. They are also a favorite option among tourists visiting Klaten, especially during Car Free Day events.
At Islamic boarding schools in the region, students are taught to ride horses, based on the teaching of Prophet Muhammad.
The horses sold at Plembon Market are categorized based on katuranggan, Javanese teaching on horses' physical characteristics and behavior that has been passed down through generations. The categories are satria pinayungan, dandang bring, tunggul mega and durga jaya. Each name is based on the horse's body shape, eye color, mane and fur.
The katuranggan categorization helps would-be owners identify horses that would bring them fortune or bad luck, as well as which horses would suit their line of work.
For the Javanese people, owning horses has been a tradition for generations and is still considered a prestigious hobby.
In Javanese culture, a man is considered whole with five items in his life: a wife, a house, a kris (or some other weapon), a horse (or some other vehicle) and a bird (or some other pet). (yun/wng)
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