Three years ago, we made a trip to Matheran that involved a lot of horseback riding. Ammol, my 10-year-old, terrified of any four-legged animal, rode, fed, and befriended the horses.
Since then, I've been toying with the idea to revisit Matheran. That's when I heard about A Filly & Colt Farm (AFCF) at Karla, 10km from Lonavala. We reached the farm in under two hours. The space has 10 stalls that house fillies, colts and horses, and an enthusiastic Labrador. Stable hands dressed in their uniform introduced us to each horse. Shilpa Nadkarni, who started the place with her aunt, shares details about each resident, their height, age, likes and dislikes.
The horses at the farm are loved - each has a story and, except for Durga (who is from Sindh), the rest are from Marwar. Shilpa speaks to them in Kannada as if they are her babies, and tells the kids how to gently extend their palms towards the nose of the horse. It's a crash course on different breeds. Still, Ammol is hesitant to draw close. So, I allow him to watch from afar, hoping he calms down.
My 12-year-old daughter, Vani, is taught how to bathe and scrub the horse, while I walk with Shilpa feeding alfalfa grass to the horses. Next, we head to the riding space. Durga and Vajra, the gentlest of the lot, arrive for our session. Vani and I strap on our riding helmets, jackets and equestrian-specific knee-high socks. The horses have been saddled, bridled, and are also wearing socks. A short ladder is bought, and up we go.
A trained stable boy accompanies us as we are walked through horse language - the position of its ears, the twitch of its tail, how to get it to move faster, how to steer it, how to hold the reins correctly. While Vani and I are riding, Shilpa tries one last attempt to cajole Ammol into getting on a horse. Mission aborted, she takes him along to pick fruit where he meets Bunty and Babli - the resident geese. In between, we are fed and well looked after. AFCF offers group packages and specialised kiddie trails. They also offer customised programmes for differently-abled children and those with learning disabilities. We leave, promising to return.
The stables are well-fenced. The horse owners accompany you everywhere. Trained, on-ground staff briefs you. You are not given the reins until they're sure you're ready and even then, they stay by your side.
Where: A Filly & Colt Farm, Plot no 9, Gate No 49, Guru Shakti, Dahivali, Karla, Lonavala.
Best for: Boys and girls four years old and upwards.
How to reach: Take the second exit on the Expressway for Lonavala (near Centre Point). At Karla Phata, turn left onto Ekvira Road and head straight to reach Dahivali Road. The farm is five minutes away.
Timings: 8.30 am onwards
Budget: Rs 300 to Rs 3,500 per person (for details and subsidised rates, Log on to afillyncoltfarm.com)
Rest room facilities: Yes
Where else to go: Durgaparmeshwari Temple, Karla and Bhaja Caves.
from travel http://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-for-kids-a-filly-colt-farm-karla-lonavala-travel-news/18245169