A horse, a horse… My kingdom for horse

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There are many sayings attributed to horses which signify the value of a horse to mankind. This majestic animal, which is poetry in motion when on the move, has been a friend to mankind for centuries. The medieval times are replete with tales of heroism shown by horses, for example, Chetak, the famed horse of Maharana Pratap.

‘The wind of heaven is that which blows between the ears of a horse’ – Arabian Proverb

During the medieval wars, horses had to be obedient and maintain their flexibility and balance. Thus, they were able to execute precise maneuvers on the battlefield. This, in turn, gave birth to the discipline of dressage in modern times.

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In peace times horses are used for recreational equestrian activities. To name a few: Dressage, Show Jumping, Eventing, Hunting, Polo, and Tent Pegging and Horse Racing.

Tent Pegging

Piercing of a wood piece by a spear/ lance on a galloping horse. It emanated from the rigors of war which was employed by the armies of Alexander. The object was to nullify the effects of elephants in the battlefield by piercing their feet by spears. The elephants would run amuck, thus becoming a danger to the enemy’s own armies.

Dressage

It encapsulates the true obedience/ discipline of a horse and its movements, which are nothing short of breathtaking.

There are many sayings attributed to horses which signify the value of a horse to mankind. This majestic animal is poetry in motion when on the move. There are many breeds of horses in India such as Bhutia, Deccani, Kathiawari, Marwari, Manipuri, etc. However,  thoroughbred horses stand out as they have speed, endurance, and robustness. It is amazing how every thoroughbred horse in the world can trace its lineage to four stallions – the Darley Arabian, the Alcock Barb, the Godolphin Barb, and the Byerley Turk.

Horse Racing

Another very popular discipline is Horse racing – the game of uncertainties. A legacy of the British Rule that probably started with two English Aristocrats or Noblemen pitting their horses against each other. With time five races came to be recognized as Classic races. A horse can participate in these ‘Classics’ only once in its lifetime.

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These races include:   

1000 Guineas- for female horses of three years of age; run over 1600 m,

2000 Guineas- horses of three years of age; open to both genders; run over 1600 m,

Oaks- only female horses of four years of age; run over 2400 m,

Derby- horses of four years of age; open to both genders; run over 2400 m,

St Leger- horses of four years of age; open for both genders; run over 2800 m.

Derby

The Derby is the Blue Riband of horse racing. Every participant harbors dreams of winning it at least once in his/ her lifetime. The word ‘Derby’ came into existence when Lord Derby won a toss of a coin to determine the ‘Title’, which is universally accepted as the most prestigious horse-race.

Horse Racing is considered the King of Sports or Sport of the Kings and therefore is readily associated with glamor and fashion. The festivities on the Derby day are matchless and the atmosphere electric.

Stud Farms

Horses are bred at Stud Farms. Maharashtra boasts of some of the finest Stud Farms in India, compared to the best in the world.

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The adage – ‘what you eat, is what you are’ – holds true for horses as well. A horse being an athlete, the preparation, quality, and procurement of feed requirement is as immaculate as that of a human athlete.

In recent times, horses have been known to provide a tremendous opportunity for the populace with disabilities. Horse-riding provides emotional solace. Horses have the ability to not only respond immediately to the rider’s actions but also mirror the rider’s emotions.

It would not be out of place to say that ‘if there is indeed a paradise, it would be no different than being on the horse-back’!

‘No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle’ – Winston Churchill

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