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Updated: January 21, 2011 19:51 IST

At the winning post

ARUNA V. IYER
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HORSE POWER Namrata Kishore
HORSE POWER Namrata Kishore

Fourteen-year-old Namrata Kishore on her passion for horse riding and winning equestrian championships

Have you ever ridden a horse — maybe at the Marina beach or at a hill station? But for 14-year-old Namrata Kishore, horse riding is not just a passion. Her mother used to ride 18 years ago while her grandparents' house was full of animals, and her love for riding seems to have stemmed from these early influences.

Back after participating in the National Equestrian Championship, an excited Namrata says “Contrary to popular assumption, horse riding has more to do with skill than strength. The rider and the horse need to connect and that takes some time, as horses are intelligent but irritable. It takes about two weeks to start riding all by yourself, and if you show the horse who is in charge, it will have no choice but to obey you.”

Namrata entered competitions a little over a year after she started riding. Show jumping and dressage are the two main events but there are also other events such as the cross-country where the course is tempered with hurdles such as logs or a stream.

Talking about schools giving lessons in horse riding, Namrata feels that the rider does not enjoy the same freedom that training at a club allows. “Riders cannot take part in events if the school is not participating. But learning from a club means, you can go to the venue a day or two ahead, borrow a horse and spend time getting used to it. It doesn't matter if the club is not in attendance.”

For the past three years, Namrata has spent her mornings at the Madras Riding School. “All of us (father, mother and younger sister) start training at 5.30 a.m. We ride for a couple of hours, before I leave for school from there. In the evenings I gym to build up stamina,” says Namrata.

At school, she is the only horse rider who participates in competitions and that exclusivity seems to have earned her a few perks. “My teachers are lenient and during competitions I am allowed to take my exams separately. My school and my friends are very supportive,” she smiles.

Comparing the equestrian scene in India and other countries, she says that there aren't many competitive women riders here, while abroad the sport is dominated by women.

So far, she has won many medals (four gold, five silver and five bronze) at different equestrian championships across the country. She won a bronze recently at the Junior National Equestrian Championship, held at Kolkata.

Being in class X, means academics takes up most of her time. “Maybe I'll ride only over the weekends, but honestly I can't stay without riding Sparky!” she says.

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