I am... Subbayyar Gownder, horse keeper

June 17, 2014 05:41 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 12:11 pm IST - COIMBATORE:

This is my horse, Lakshmi. She is six-years-old. I have had her since she was a baby. I feel we connect with each other. We think animals can’t talk but they have a way of communicating their thoughts. Lakshmi snorts when she is hungry. She becomes restless when she sees me preparing the food for her.

Her favourite is pullu. She also loves to gorge on wheat husk and powdered chick peas.

I have been riding horses since the age of 17.  I can’t think of another job. Yes, I earn a pittance. Nobody fancies horse riding these days. But, I will move on.

I belong to Annur. But I do not have anyone there. I stay at my sister’s house in Gandhi Park. I chose this job at a very young age. I had no other means. There was no house, land or money. I had to find some job. And this is what found me.

None of these are my horses. Not even Lakshmi. I want to buy one some day. But I do not know when. I am already 85.

I love horses more than any animals. I also like watching films. And some of the MGR movie songs had the hero mounted on a majestic horse. I still remember a song in Malai Kallan in which the star, heroine and a white horse trudge up a hill.

The VOC grounds fill up with children on Sundays. They beg their parents to allow them to ride a horse. The parents have no option but to give in to their demands. Their faces flush with excitement when they come back from the ride.

Not all horses move slowly. A few gallop fast. But we are careful with children. We ensure that they have a safe ride.

Some of these horses are sent to temples. Look, there. Do you see that majestic white horse, decorated with colourful feathers?

He will be sent to a kovil for festivities. Sometimes they go to a circus. A ride costs just Rs. 20. The route is the circle around the VOC park. So, why don’t you take a savari on Lakshmi?

(A weekly column on the men and women who make Coimbatore what it is.)

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