This is a difficult review to write because there were some very good aspects to my mine and my partner's stay on the ranch but we feel compelled to comment because we also found some great discrepancies with some of the claims on the website (and indeed the comments certain reviewers have made on here); and we feel we are obliged to write the review we wish we could have read, to raise some of the issues concerning the treatment of the animals on the farm.
We have allocated a rating of 'Average' to reflect the positive aspects of our stay: the ranch is located in a beautiful, unspoiled region, close enough to the city for convenience but certainly far enough away to truly feel peaceful, and the accommodation was lovely- in fact, we liked our cottage so much we immediately arranged to book in for two nights at the sister property in the city.
However, after looking around, we quickly began to feel uncomfortable with the way in which the animals were kept and the treatment they were given.
The website states that 'at the ranch [the horses] have spacious stables and a big fenced area where they can be free during the day' but during the three days we stayed this was certainly not the case: while two foals occupied the paddock, the remaining horses were tethered under their chins AND by one foot throughout the day, giving them little or no mobility. Consequently, they were clearly uncomfortable, straining at these bonds and stamping their hooves frequently; on serval occasions we also witnessed horses struggling to reach the food trough, being forced to stretch their tethered leg out behind them - employees were present at these times and did nothing to make them more comfortable.
While it was clear that the horses were well- fed and fairly healthy (excepting a nasty eye-infection one was suffering with, while still being used for rides), it seemed that they were simply there to fulfill a function and the love and respect other reviewers witnessed was not in evidence. (I must note here that Dinesh was away during our stay, leading a 10 day ride, so perhaps some things may have been different had he been present, but it was clear that the tethering by the ankles was an established practice, as there were rings put in the ground specially to facilitate this.) While the male employees did exhibit some moments of gentleness with the horses, we saw a female employee scream and shout at a horse she was trying to move, to a degree that was genuinely upsetting.
This treatment led to the horses being extremely highly-strung: they were frequently trying to kick each other and were usually unsettled, which was particularly evident when we went out for a half day ride. I was shocked that no one asked how much riding experience we had before pairing us to a horse and we had to speak up as they were planning on putting my partner (a novice) on an extremely challenging horse and me on the horse that was suitable for beginners. We arranged to switch and as soon as i mounted I was so relieved we had, as the horse I was riding was extremely difficult to manage and would have been impossible for a beginner; indeed, although I have ridden frequently in the past, I struggled throughout with him. It was clear that he was a lovely horse but entirely unsuited to being ridden by tourists with little riding knowledge on what was essentially a walking site-seeing ride; he wanted to go faster from the start (probably because he had been restrained throughout the previous 48 hours we had seen him) and it was a constant battle to keep him under control and stop him getting spooked by passing traffic, most notably, buffalo. (On a positive note, we were accompanied by two men in addition to our mounted-lead, which did mean that neither of us ever felt unsafe, though the claim that all the guides speak 'fluent English' on the website is incorrect - this was not detrimental to safety, but it was to comfort as it was impossible for us to explain more complicated requests. Dinesh's brother was kind to us during the ride though and pointed out some of the local sites and took us to see the lake.)
In addition to the horses' conditions being less than we would have hoped, we were also saddened by the treatment of the two dogs: one of these, Lucky, had given birth to a litter of puppies 20days ago, whom she was nursing, but she was so thin that we could see all of her bones. While some of this may be down to her vegetarian diet and the demands of her litter, it was clear she needed more food to compensate. The other dog, Julie, appeared in better condition but flinched and cowered every time a certain employee came anywhere near her, which led us to draw inevitably dark conclusions and neither dog was shown any affection during our time there.
The remaining animals -cows, including a ten day old calf, and goats- were tethered by their necks on short leashes which were actively dangerous (my partner had to intervene to stop two goats from potentially hanging themselves when they nearly fell off the edge of a wall while tethered). They were also on the receiving end of the female employee's angry shouts and, in the goats' case, thrashes with sticks.
While we are aware that farming methods and attitudes to animals are inevitably going to be different to what we are used to in England, it was impossible for us to not be affected by the things we saw and would certainly preclude us ever returning or recommending the ranch to others. As much of the business must come from Western tourists, I would urge the owners to consider how behavior like this is going to be perceived by guests who are very likely to be animal lovers and perhaps consider implementing stricter guidelines for their employees. The ranch genuinely has a lot to offer tourists and, as stated above, there were many aspects of our stay that were good- indeed, if the animal care could be improved, it would be wonderful but it really isn't enough to write on your website 'of course all animals are very well looked after by us and our dedicated staff' if you are not committed to putting this into practice.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- DISCOVER RURAL INDIA! The Krishna Ranch is an excellent place for everyone who wants to get away from India's busy cities and discover rural India. The ranch is located at a very peaceful spot in the Arravali mountains, just 7 kilometers out of Udaipur city. The Krishna Ranch is not a typical resort, but a living farm with 14 beautiful Marwari horses, many other animals and lush fields with a variety of crops. The cottages at the ranch are clean and spacious, nicely decorated with regional handicrafts. We serve excellent vegetarian meals, mostly prepared from vegetables grown at our ecological farm. The ranch is a great starting point for short walks and bicycle rides to the surrounding villages. We will provide a simple map of the area and packed lunches for a pick-nick on the way are available. Guided treks to the remote parts of the Arravali-mountains are also possible. The beautiful and peaceful ranch is of course also a place to just sit back and relax. There is a small library with books and games. Roomrates include breakfast and pick up from Udaipu-city at the start of your stay and drop off at the end of your stay. The main activity organized by Krishna Ranch are professionally guided horse-safaris through the beautiful Arravali mountain-range. There are possibilities for everyone: from beginners to experienced riders, from 2,5 hours to 10 days! Of course all our horses and other animals are very well looked after by us and our dedicated staff. Note that rides/guided hikes need to be booked in advance. ... more less
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