A short walk from my house in India we can ride out on rented Kathiawari horses. The Kathiawari is a breed of horse from India, originating in the Kathiawar peninsula. Closely related to the Marwari horse, and resembling both that breed and the Arabian horse from which they descend, the Kathiawari was originally bred as a desert war horse for use over long distances, in rough terrain, on minimal rations. They are found in all colors except for black. They are spirited, curious and fun to ride.
On this day, my daughter Olivia and I rented two horses from the same herd. She rode Ajun (white), named after an ancient Indian king and I rode Ajith (pinto), named after a modern Tamil film star (who, in my opinion, is not nearly as handsome as Ajith the horse)
The defining characteristic of this horse is it’s curly ears. Ears that give so much expression when you are riding them. They also have very long necks that rise nearly straight up from their shoulders when they trot, making you feel like you are riding a lama! Ajun had “kumkum” which is a dot, made of red colored earth, placed on the forehead after praying to God. It is supposed to protect you from harm. (Horses aren’t the only ones who wear kumkums, the Hindu people wear them too) and both horses sported a black string around their left front hoof to bring good luck.
We rode out through the town, past workers and homes and into the forest. We rode along forested lanes, past sacred cows until we came to a tea shack located near a stream and waterfall. We drank some of the sweet milky tea called chai, served, in little paper cups, in tea shacks like this all over India. We were joined by a group of shy and polite Indian boys who had come to visit the waterfall. They loved taking pictures with the horses and the “exotic” white girl. Ajith and Ajun had a snack too. Carrot tops from local garden carrots being sold at the tea shack.
Ajith is the third Kathiawari horse I have ridden in search of “the one” I want to ride consistently. On our ride, Ajith was curious, responsive, a little insecure but trusting, energetic and silly (he rolled me while crossing a green field!) I fell in love with him. He is the one for me. I am looking forward to riding him on a regular basis while I am here in India.
Olivia rode Ajun and she liked him, he was very responsive to leg aids and very light on the reins, but she is interested in getting to know a little red roan that she saw. She is a pony lover and prefers smaller horses. On our next ride we will see how she likes the roan.
After the ride we walked home past a street vendor selling pieces of “jack fruit”, a sweet and sticky fruit that tastes like Juicy Fruit gum. We checked out a shrine that accommodates all three religions that are present here in Kodaikanal. It had a Christian Virgin Mary, a Hindu Ganesh and a Mini Muslim Mecca.
As much as I like Ajith, I miss my horses back in Costa Rica. My friend Nelson is taking good care of them. I hear they are fat and happy and enjoying a view of the whole valley, in the beautiful pasture that is their home while I am away. They are resting up and having some time to just be horses until I return. Then it is “back to work”, but really back to “play” as the volunteers arrive and we get out the carrot sticks and savvy strings and enjoy some play time and some trail riding. We will be busy getting everyone ready for this season’s trekking season. We have some great adventures planned.
If you are interested in volunteering with us this season, we are still looking for more volunteers from November through April, please visit our volunteer page and fill out our online application. If you are interested in joining us on one of our Parelli horseback riding treks from the mountains to the beach please check out our trekking pages. We have some wonderful instructors coming and some great adventures planned.
If you want to ride a Kathiawari horse, come and visit me in India!!