Krishna ranch was recommended by Lonely Planet as a top choice activity in the countryside surrounding Udaipur. Once I had looked up them up on trip advisor and seen all 40 excellent reviews I was set and Charlie luckily agreed with me/ quickly resigned himself to two days of horse time.
We arrived exhausted having left Bundi that morning and stopped off at Chittorgargh fort (the biggest in all of Asia according to our driver) on the way. We were shown to the cottage we were staying in, which was large and authentically rustic looking. Very clean for India standards but as befits somewhere on a farm, there were a few too many bugs for our liking! They said they would bring dinner over to our veranda but we instead wandered over to the centre where the horses were tied up and dozing in front of a tree house type raised table and storage area. A lovely woman called Navrani served us freshly made food in huge quantities. This tiny lady worked incredibly hard, when were were there I never saw her stop, be it cooking, feeding the various animals, or stripping the banana plants.
So we ate our first meal on the ranch in candle light with horses on every side including a foal and mother in an enclosure. Pretty dreamy stuff (for me at least).
The next morning we went on a half day ride with a French couple too which was lovely. Just walking and jogging, we passed through tiny villages, various spice and fruit fields and visited a huge lake. Our guide was lovely and told us lots of little facts about how the houses were built and these giant over a metre across woks that rural families use for group occasions. They use cow manure for everything – in housing walls, as fuel and ofc for fertiliser. We went past many women busy scraping it into piles with just their hands, and once again cows and buffaloes were everywhere.
When we got back to the ranch the guide took Charlie off quickly by himself for a canter. Charlie, having previously assured me that he could ride and had cantered round a ring and everything, returned 5 minutes later looking rather pale. Going round a ring on a bored riding school pony is very different from a pure bred Malawari horse and the open countryside! He said he was terrified but loved it. In England there is no way you could have an experience like this as thanks to health and safety and insurance most riding schools would have made him have several in ring lessons costing probably 30 pounds for half an hour before daring to let an inexperienced rider do something similar! We have decided he will have to come with me to my friend Clare’s where they have their own horses and we can give him some tuition for free! Clare is you are reading this, heads up…
After lunch with the frenchies, a middle aged couple who were super friendly and had lots of interesting stories, I got ready for an afternoon ride with the ranch owner’s brother. I had said I had a horse and inevitably shown everyone multiple pictures of Millie. This and my clearly obvious wide eyed happiness and frequent admiring and moving from horse to beautiful horse, had I think given the impression that I too rode for multiple hours every day back home. Thus my ‘faster’ afternoon ride was one of the most harrowingly speedy rides I have ever been on. We covered a huge amount of ground either jogging, cantering, and the odd ridiculously exhilarating gallop often whilst dodging people, goats, and fairly aggressive male buffaloes!
We rode up into the hills and I did my best to take pictures as I went of goats jumping along walls next to us, children who rarely see a woman riding and who screamed with delight and sometimes tried to chase us, and the cows that seemed to enjoy capering infront of us. My lovely horse, Pudam, a dark bay with the build of a perfect Arab but with the Malawari ears (these curve inwards) was however too strong to let me have camera in one hand and reins in another for long without fear of dropping one! The ranch owner told me ‘these horses just want to gallop all the time’ and this was certainly true. Right from the start they walked out so forward going that you could feel the energy like a coiled spring beneath you.
By the time we got back to the ranch I could barely walk. Having ridden in thin cotton trousers and plimsolls, my legs were destroyed. Of course the fundamental problem was I am horribly unfit and just generally every muscle was unprepared for a full day of riding! However hobbling for the next 48 hours was 10000% worth it for this experience. It was an amazing way to see the country side. Especially in the afternoon I really saw rural Indian life miles away from any tourism, in villages nestling at the bottom of hills which have restricted access as they are wildlife protection zones. But to be honest as my family will know, mainly my brain was just screaming PONIES!!!
Nearly all the pictures are on my digital camera and will be uploaded later