Friday, April 6, 2012

Jaipur Horseplay

As a kid I would always imagine myself doing heroic deeds. Climbing cliffs, jumping off airplanes or may be saving the world - OK thats pushing it.. But what Hero can't ride horses? With  the climbing season still a few weeks away and the mountains deemed unfit for skiing and one suffering with the "itchy feet syndrome", I thought a little bit of riding should keep oneself occupied and may be offer a  different sort of a workout. 

After Gulmarg I was in Pondicherry for a couple of weeks, where Raghavendra, a young lad from Rajasthan, studying French,  suggested that Rajasthan was the place to delve into for riding. A little bit of searching and I got the contact for Vishal Bishnoi, a gentleman rider from Ganganagar, managing "Equest", a Riding School on the New Sanganer Road in Jaipur. I spoke with him over the phone and he was more than pleased to extend his facility to a novice like me.

So, in about a weeks time, I was in the Pink City (more like - sand city). I lived at Raghavs place for a couple of days and then moved into Mahal Guest House in the Durgapura Locality, which is just about 4.5 Km from Equest. I have been using Raghavs bicycle to commute between the guest house and Equest. There are 8 horses and a mule in the stable. The beasts are brilliant, except the mule, who is just a nut bag. He eats all day and does no work. 

Pratap is the most graceful horse, looks brilliant and Vishal says he has just the right proportions. He canters gracefully too. Too bad he is blind in one eye. Astro is perhaps the laziest of the lot. I make him trot and he moves like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. He is the laziest trotter. Rajesh my trainer keeps saying,"twinge with your heels, twinge with your heels", and I say to myself, any more twinging and my heel will be in his stomach. Vishal on the other hand says,"Think trot, think trot", and I am like,"yeah right! that should do it". Vishal says that horses are extremely telepathic. So ideally, if the rider just thinks something and positions himself accordingly, the horse must respond. Well! easier said than done. So I sigh, stretch my feet outwards and give a mighty kick in his belly, and voila! he picks up speed. No telepathy required with this technique. :) He needs the "kick" treatment, once every couple of minutes to keep him from dozing off. Although slow to begin with, He has a fast Canter, when I get him warmed up. Vishal says I have got him excited, and I have no clue as to what that means. In my mind I am thinking, yeah but what did I do for that to happen? :)

Ashwath, Fire and Badal are extremely sensitive horses. A little brush of my feet across the belly of one of  these and they trot briskly. A slight twinge and they settle into a beautiful canter. Texla is the old one. He is used to train little kids on a lunge line. Devdutt is burly and tends to be quite jerky in his movements to begin with but eases off once he is warmed up.Blair is the villain. He keeps throwing everyone off -- well thats what I am told. I have never actually ridden him, so I cant be too sure. Evenings are quite busy at Equest. There are a bunch of kids who train in  the evening. A couple of them have taken a liking to me. A few adults practice polo when the sun is down. Mornings are relatively slow with fewer riders training in the arena. There is this peculiar kid called Siddharth, who intrigues me. He is shy, doesn't speak, and barely nods. Reminds me of me.

Anyways, I train in the mornings as well as evenings. Add to that some pacey cycling and one gets a good workout. Also bruised knees and sore buttocks as incentive. 

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