In this world of video games and amusement parks, a rustic farm in Agawam, Massachusetts offers visitors a chance to commune with nature and statuesque four-legged creatures. For a relatively small fee, a family can head out onto the charming trails at Crowley's Barn & Stables, with an experienced guide at the helm. "It's a nice wooded area," says Office Manager, Kandi Gielda. "It's very beautiful and peaceful. The different seasons can be wonderful."
Never mind a stability ball or elliptical machine, this old-fashioned sport can provide quite a workout. "It's good exercise," says farm owner, Dennis Crowley. "Probably the best exercise there is." Also, learning to work with a horse, like medium sized gelding, Smokem Mate, is an entirely new experience for many people. "Patience. You have to be patient with a horse," says Gielda. "If you're really into it, the relationship between the horse and rider does become quite close."
If you decide to saddle up, you don't exactly have to wear boots and a cowboy hat! Gielda smiles as she says, "Stilettos and flip flops are discouraged" but sneakers will do the trick. "Jeans are preferred. Bug spray is recommended," she adds.
The farm also offers pony rides, hay rides in the fall and occasional cattle clinics, where experts give visitors a close look at the Western practices of cutting and swording. Gielda says Crowley's has become a staple in the area, giving folks an opportunity to go back in time. "We have people who come up with their kids and say, 'Oh, I used to ride here when I was a child,'" she says. "Families do seem to enjoy it."
An hour out on the trail, accompanied by a guide, costs $30.00 per person. Crowley's Barn & Stables is located at 2 Shoemaker Lane in Agawam, MA. Log onto www.crowleyshorses.com or call (413)786-1624 for more information.