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Riding all the way

High motivation, lack of facilities Fouad Mirza Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

High motivation, lack of facilities Fouad Mirza Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash  

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Fouad Mirza has won a clutch of medals and made a name for himself in equestrian sports

Having a rich tradition with horses and growing up around them, it was only natural that Fouad Mirza took to equestrian sport like the proverbial fish to water. The 22-year-old, who studies at the University of Northampton in the UK (joint honours in Psychology and Human Resources) having completed his schooling from Bangalore International, began his tryst with horses as a five-year-old and competed for the first time in 2000 as an eight-year-old boy in a regional horse show.

By 2002, he had moved on to the National level championships. “El Dorado and Pollina are the very first horses I rode and I have some fond memories of them,”says Fouad, of his early days on the course. “Every rider has a special bond with certain horses and for me it was Pollina; it never failed me,” exclaims Fouad, but quickly adds: “A good rider is one who rides as many different horses as possible because when one travels and competes internationally extensively. It is not easy to transport the horses.”

In fact, El Dorado and Pollina never let anybody down. “For them, it was either gold or nothing,” Fouad says proudly. For a lad who has won over 31 gold medals at the regional and National championships and bagged 16 silver and 22 bronze medals – his first national success coming in 2003 – Fouad secured one of his best finishes on the international stage earlier this month, a fourth place in the Commonwealth Cup in Hopetoun (Scotland). His compatriot Ajay Appachu claimed a silver at the same event that has put him on course for the Asian Games and a possible tilt at the World Championships in Rio later this year.

“The move to Embassy Riding School and training under two of the brightest Indian civilian riders – Ajay Appachu and Nadia Haridas – has given me great impetus and confidence,” feels Fouad. “The experience they bring into the training sessions and the confidence and commitment they share is immense and a great boost to trainees.”

While speaking highly of the talent base in the country today –Nikitha of Chennai, Ishaan Gadhoke of Delhi along with Shambhavi – Fouad lamented the lack of horses, facilities and competitions. “The horses we get are the retired Army ones and putting them through the paces is a tall task. Also the facilities are not in any way comparable to the ones available overseas,” says Fouad.

Silva Storai, the chief trainer at Embassy Riding School, has seen Fouad grow up in the saddle and has high regard for the youngster.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:39:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/riding-all-the-way/article6228500.ece

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