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Equestrian equations 

Riding classes witness some hilarious moments, when either the trainee or the horse refuses to be enthused

Riding classes witness some hilarious moments, when either the trainee or the horse refuses to be enthused | Photo Credit: Getty Images

After reading an article on horse riding recently, my memories went back to 1975, when as an IPS probationer in the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, I had to learn the skill. Most of the probationers belonging to the 1974 batch started their training with trepidation. Some were mortally scared, some managed and only a few enjoyed. I belonged to the middle category. Having suffered a disc prolapse and been on medical leave for a month, I had grave apprehensions.

The classes witnessed some hilarious moments, when either the trainee or the horse refused to be enthused. Some were mortally scared to climb on, leave alone ride. Several probationers were cursing Nehru, who is reported to have insisted on including horse riding, a relic of the colonial days, in the IPS curriculum. The story goes that he opined that unless an officer was able to establish a rapport with the animal, he could least hope to do so with humans. Every class ended with some humour, with fall of the rider or horse bolting away without the rider. Some indeed fell down. One who sustained a fracture was happy to be exempted not only from horse riding but also the drill for a month.

We learnt various movements on the horse — walk, trot, gallop and canter. Hanuman Singh, our master, used to give commands in his stentorian voice. His Hindi was hardly comprehensible for some from the south like me. But the horses had no linguistic barrier and used to carry out the commands perfectly. The learner was expected only to ensure that he does not interfere. Mostly, things went smoothly.

Draw of lots

There was a qualifying test at the end which included tough movements such as triple jump, which I was not confident enough to complete successfully. But one can get lucky. We had horses of different temperament and mood swings. Meghdhoot was known to be mischievous to let down or throw down a diffident rider. Chameli was supposed to be the best disciplined and cooperative and had the reputation of a lucky horse. Needless to say, I was fervently praying to get Chameli for the test. Sure enough, I got it by lots. Chameli completed all the commands, even without any communication from the rider. Lo and behold, I got through the test, to the disbelief of my friends. There were a score of probationers who had to visit Hyderabad to take the test for a second time.

Looking back, I still nurture serious misgivings about efficacy of horse riding for IPS training. But the training still contains it. Every batch has quite a few who undertake this exercise without any penchant.

venkatakrishnan47@gmail.com


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 12:03:06 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/equestrian-equations/article65420808.ece