Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gallop Stable

Weather was good last Saturday morning - cool and cloudy. A great day for the outdoors. We decided to make a visit to Gallop Stable. We have never been to the place but have heard about the place from friends who have been there before. "You can feed and ride the ponies. Interesting." As it was an impromptu decision, I had to rush to the coffee-shop nearby to get some food for our little 'picnic'. One would say that I can always get food from the park especially since Singapore is such an accessible and well-equipped island. Yet, it being our first visit, I was unclear as to the facilities and amenities nearby. With 2 young kids in tow, I always need to ensure that food and water supplies are on hand. Last minute frenzy search for food and water to satisfy two hungry and whining kids is just not my cup of tea.

Located at Pasir Ris Park Carpark C, it took us only 15 minutes by cab. Once we got off the taxi, the kids started shouting excitedly, "I see the horse, I see the horse!"Even K, the more subdued one, was jumping around with joy. It was such a wonderful sight to behold such simple joy and innocence. The stable is situated between the cycling and walking tracks in the park so a lot of cyclists and joggers would stop by to just admire these animals. There is a nice little bistro by the stable, Bistro Ayden, where you can enjoy your food while watching the animals. A nice place for a romantic date.

There are also some tables and chairs beside the pony riding area so you can sit back and enjoy the scenery and animals.

We were greeted by Charlie first or so we believed as 'Charlie' was printed on his strap. He was the only pony available for feeding at that time. A pack of feed costs $1 and consists of some small hays. We bought a total of 4 packs. It is not advisable for children under 7 to feed the pony so the kids were in charge of pouring the feeds into my palm while I subjected my hand to the wet sweeping strokes of Charlie's tongue. He even snorted a few times and the kids were very amused by that.

Next came the pony ride. Each ride costs $10 and it takes a short 5 minutes to complete one circuit, around the paddock where one can take riding lessons. When we were there, there were some young children waiting for their lessons. They were all geared in horse-riding attire, with helmets and all. The youngest one looked like he is only about 5 years old. Cute.

A went on the pony first. This would be her second time on a pony. Her first was during her school's Sports Day where ponies rides was part of the many activities available in the stadium. The ponies at the stadium were from Gallop Stable too. A rode the pony with such poise, with a straight back and a charming smile on her face. She was clearly very pleased to be sitting on the pony. When it was K's turn, it was a different story. She was very reluctant to wear the helmet despite countless assurance that I would hold her hand and walk beside her. I couldn't blame her. It would her first time on a pony. Both my husband and I decided to give K's first pony ride a miss. Pushing her may just cause her to dislike horses altogether and we certainly do not want that.

I ended up having to ride the horse since tickets must be used on the day of purchase. It was my first time and since A made pony-riding look such a breeze, I was certain I would be graceful on one too. A was very concerned that "the pony's legs would break" if I were to sit on it. I had to assure her that I would be sitting on a horse instead of a small pony. In addition, the personnel confirmed that I was within the safe weight limit. Still, it was quite embarrassing as I was the only adult in the long line of young children. I mounted the horse and I definitely didn't look graceful. When the horse made a gentle turn, I could feel myself leaning towards the side and I grabbed the reins tightly. I attributed my lack of poise to my height and hence the higher center of gravity. Mere excuse but it made me feel better so yes, it's justified. Despite the little unglamourous moments, it was still nice to view the surrounding at a height. Everything seemed so serene. I was above the stress and problems and it felt light, even if it was only for a brief moment. 

After our little 'picnic' lunch at the table beside the paddock, we explored the mangrove trail nearby. It is a short 15 to 20 minutes walk from Gallop Stable. When I said 10 to 15 minutes, that is kids' time. All parents would know that with kids, a normal 5 minutes walk can take a good 10 to 15 minutes.

We spotted a few mangrove creatures and kids were fasinated. Even though it was already 1130am and the sun was scorching hot, the vegetation provided the much needed shade and relief. It was a tranquil walk, a good way to end the morning before we head back for a refreshing bath and afternoon nap.

We would definitely be back again as the whole park is so spacious and clean. There is a huge grass field just behind the Bistro and a bicycle kiosk just beside it. The cycling track was not crowded when we were there, considering it was a Saturday morning. Just the right place for the kids to learn cycling. No rush, no stress.

For those who are interested to visit the Gallop Stable, here is some information.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8am to 7pm. Closed on Monday. Lunch time is 12-2pm.
Address: 61 Pasir Ris Green, Singapore 518225
Contact: 65839665

Educational Aspects for Young children

- Interaction with animals helps children connect with and build positive experiences with their natural surroundings, satisfying their need for discovery and igniting their curiosity. The connection between horse and child empowers the young ones to understand that sociable behavior transcends the sharing of a common language or appearance.

- Caring for animals. You can watch the staff care for the horses, explaining why certain things have to be done, e.g. we wash our hands before feeding the pony so that we do not spread any germs to it while handling its food, making it sick; a horse stands on three legs with one hind leg cocked showing that it is relaxed and in resting position; horses appreciate kind words of encouragement and assurance in uncertain situations just like we do, and we can hear the staff speak to them in this manner occassionally.

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