A pair of geese wades about with a proprietorial air amid the greenery, a Labrador rolls over and flops on the soft grass, a pig trots up and down as if waiting impatiently for a tardy mate.
It looks like a scene straight out of an English farm, a place perhaps where Enid Blyton might set one of her delightful little tales. Until one notices horses galloping about with thrilled kids squealing on their sturdy backs. This is a familiar scene at the Japalouppe Equestrian Centre set on a sprawling 10-acre area at Talegaon, off the Mumbai-Pune Highway.
Children from Cathedral Vidya School (Lonavala), Heritage School (Pune), Flame Campus (Pune) frequent the Centre for riding lessons. “Weekday crowd consists of a lot of expat population from Pune”, explains Rohan More who runs the place.
Japalouppe was set up by Rohan’s mother Lorraine in 1997. However, she had started it as a joint venture with Dutch Partners, an association that did not work out. When Lorraine was on the verge of closing down the establishment, Rohan decided to fight back. His efforts paid off as their first residential horse riding camp for children in 1999 received an overwhelming response. There was no looking back after that.
“Riding schools do not usually make money,” says Rohan. “It’s the rich patrons who sponsor the place or else it has to be an Army horse riding facility or government-sponsored set-up.”
Unlike conventional riding schools, Japalouppe is multidisciplinary and that is the reason for its financial viability. “The centre has training programmes, camps, veterinary back-up, a children’s zoo, kenneling services and accommodation. The centre also handles media and PR for IAEP (Indian Association of Equine Practitioners)”, says Rohan.
The centre organizes six days residential horse riding camps, day picnics, barbeque weekends, etc. The dormitories and cottages are without frills, but cozy and comfortable. When asked about what is the most stressful part of his job, Rohan said running the place and making it financially viable. At the same time he is excited that he has broken the myth of “riding schools not being financially viable”.
Japalouppe had initially started off as a riding school and then gradually evolved into one of the best equestrian centre in the country. The name of the farm is inspired by the story of a small French horse ‘Jappeloup’. By regular standards, Jappeloup was too short to ever succeed in the world of show-jumping. But his rider Pierre Durand thought otherwise. He was determined to prove Jappeloup’s talent despite being written off by critics. Unfazed by challenges, Jappeloup and Pierre Durand went on to become legendary in the world of show-jumping and won a gold medal in the 1998 Olympic Games.
“Japalouppe had started off as a riding
school and has today evolved into one of the best equestrian centre in the country.”
A typical day for Rohan and his staff starts at 5:30am and winds up by 6:30 pm. This centre is the only riding school in India which has Gypsy Vanner horses. These horses are imported from Ireland and are considered to be one of the best breed for beginners. They have the perfect temperament to suit a beginner and enough athletic capabilities for an intermediate rider. These horses are literally bred for the job of teaching how to ride.
Rohan feels riding has not picked up the way other sports have because people find riding unsafe. “Also most instructors push children beyond a limit, he says. The fact that you need to invest time in training a horse before he/she is given to a rider is always overlooked,” he says.
Next, Rohan plans an indoor riding arena at the centre. Rohan is also keen on Hippo Therapy (using a horse as part of therapy) which is a big phenomenon in the west. Plans are afoot to build an equine hospital in the same compound. The More’s business philosophy seems to be reflected in the words of the great horseman Buch Branman: “A horse is a reflection of its owner. The horse responds honestly to its situation, without any forethought, bias or monetary incentive.”
■ The centre has training courses, veterinary back-up, a children’s zoo, kenneling services and accommodation.
■ It organizes 6-day residential riding camps, day picnics, and barbeque weekends
■ Also handles PR for Indian Association of Equine Practitioners