Reviving the horse-drawn carriage with Celtic Valley Carriage & Farm

Middletown. This farm also feature a variety of animal-related activities, including goat interactions and pony rides.

| 18 Dec 2023 | 11:49

Ever think about the joy of going back to simpler times? Now it’s possible to experience the exhilarating feel of days of yore riding out of doors on a brisk day at a brisk pace. Those iconic jingle bells can almost be heard as you trot along in a one-horse open carriage!

Celtic Valley Carriage & Farm, located right in the Middletown/Wallkill area, is now offering this unique country experience for adults and children.

The farm provides horse-drawn carriage rides, and pony, donkey, and goat fun activities for all ages under the guidance of experienced handlers, Alanna Bodman and Fran Levy, collaborators in this equine and farming cooperative.

Both handlers have been dealing with farm animals for many years. Having a business that is focused on animals — especially horses — has been the fulfillment of their life’s ambition, and they’re thrilled to share their love of animals with everyone. Between the two of them, they have 50-years of experience with care and management of horses: Bodman drives and Levy rides.

“We manage our horses on an individual basis, because every single one is an individual with individual needs,” said Levy, the major caregiver of the animals.

“The way we do business is that safety is our number one priority,” said Bodman. “All of our horses are extremely experienced in rural and urban settings. Our aim is to provide a high-quality experience with good-looking horses, equipment, and handlers. We’re happy to be a part of the community.”

A variety of carriages, ranging from a two-seat panel boot Victoria, a four-seat Polish wagonette, up to a six-seat waggonette can accommodate rides for small and large families. Not just a pleasure ride in the out-of-doors, horse and carriage rides have become a popular addition for weddings, birthdays, hay rides, picnics and other home and business gatherings.

Celtic Valley Farm has options for gatherings at your location, such as hand-held pony rides, the fun-loving Pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats, and activity stations, like horseshoe painting and face painting. Celtic Valley has equipment to transport animals to your location.

“All of our animals enjoy and are comfortable being with people, especially children. Beau the donkey loves attention; he always appreciates a pat and scratch behind his ears!” said Bodman, adding, “the goats are a delight to watch!”

Bodman is originally from Ohio, having moved to New York City in 2008 to attend the School for Visual Arts, where she majored in illustration. She inherited her artistic talent from her mother’s parents who were nature illustrators for Dover Publications; they specialized in nature books.

“I wasn’t born into a family of horse lovers,” Bodman explained. She’s from a family of classical musicians: both her parents were classical violinists, her mom has two degrees from Julliard and performed, taught and is now composing music; and her grandfather was a violinist and grandmother a pianist and string bass player. “I definitely appreciate classical music,” she said.

However, her true passion is working with horses, with her training beginning at the Chateau Stables in Manhattan. It was then on Dec. 23, 2013, that she purchased her first horse, Dr. Watson, a multitalented horse who not only drives a carriage, but makes theatrical appearances, as well.

In 2015, she brought her horse and relocated to the New Deal Horse and Carriage in Rhode Island. She later moved to New Jersey to help manage a commercial carriage company. Knowing she was ready to start her own business, Bodman came to Orange County in March 2023. She teamed up with Levy, who she’s known since 2011. Aiding in setting up the physical location, as well as hands-on work with the horses is Bodman’s significant other, Kieran Kelly, who moved to New York City from Ireland in 1987. He’s an experienced horseman, working as a carriage driver in Central Park.

Bodman keeps her horses fit for driving by harnessing them up regularly to exercise at every opportunity. Driving on the road is commonplace and they’re relaxed on the road alongside moving traffic.

“This area is a great place for our business; there’s a history here with horses — Goshen is home of the trotter. We’re happy to be a part of the community running our own stable instead of boarding our horses,” said Bodman.

Levy started riding at a young age and has never stopped. She purchased her first horse 28-years ago; now she has five. She’s in charge of caring for the physical and emotional health of the horses at the farm.

“People are excited about having the experience of riding in a carriage and interacting with a real-life horse, and as a special bonus, the speed riding in a carriage is conducive to sightseeing,” Levy noted.

For more information, call Fran Levy at 607-423-8179 or Alanna Bodman at 917-510-6508, or visit