Friday, 5 September 2014

Hear it from the horse's mouth

Hear it straight from the horse's mouth, then: Dear readers of KS's blog. I am Tin Tin. I am a chestnut brown horse, 5 years old. I have beautiful black mane and my groomer is quite good at his job. Therefore the chestnut skin glows like molten Dairy Milk, especially when my thigh muscles ripple whenever I gallop. And gallop I like to do. Often. Alas! I am not free to gallop to my liking, though. I was born and brought up in the Indian Army. At Equine Breeding Stud, Babugarh to be precise. The first letter of the place of my birth and the last digit of the year of my birth are branded on to my left thigh. So, I have B9 with an arrow mark pointed upwards indicating my ownership by the army. I was born in 2009.

While the OT group of about 28 (us horses are good at numbers, among other things) gathered in a circle about the Riding Instructor (RI), the riding assistant (helper etc) helped demonstrate to the OTs how to unshoe me, clip my nails, brush my mane and how to saddle me up. The Riding Instructor is a 6.5 ft tall gentleman from the President's Bodyguard. The OTs were also instructed on how to mount and dismount a horse. Grab the rein in the left hand, grab the pommel with the left hand, stirrup leather to face you, left foot in the stirrup, haul yourself up on your left leg, haul your right leg over the cantle on to the right side, sit, take better grip of the rein, snag the right foot in the stirrup. The RI explained to the OTs the dietary requirements of us horses and I could see one fat, round OT shift uneasily on his feet at how many kilos of different kinds of sprouts, jaggery, salt, mustard/fish oil we are fed. Was he hungry or did all those kilos mentioned remind him of how less he was eating?

We were a bunch of 17 horses, of different ages and colours. The riding assistants had worn us out previously so that we would be tired and less frisky when the OTs would decide to ride us. Soon enough, as Fate would have it, that fat, round OT was assigned to me. He had some difficulty  mounting but once he was settled in the seat of the saddle, he seemed content just to be where he was. Probably he had never seen the world from these commanding heights. We were led by the riding assistants on a round of the riding grounds. The OT assigned to me pulled the rein too hard initially, which is a sort of a brake for me, so I stopped, bringing the group of horses at my back to a halt. The riding assistant asked him to loosen the rein and things were all right from then on. Press the heel of the corresponding leg to go in that direction, pull back the rein to brake, press both the heels to move forward. Basic movements. The Riding Instructor asked the OTs to slap our necks in appreciation. In the good old military fashion, it was an 'ek do ek' of appreciation shown. The OTs dismounted and thanked the riding assistants and walked to our front. The RI instructed the OTs not to move to our back without intimating us. A well placed kicking of an IAS officer is therefore missing from my account.
Riding ground where Tin Tin and KS met

A fat, round OT's account: You could hear the 'clop, clop, clop' of their horse shoes on the steep, cemented road running from the Silverwood hostel near the academy gate all the way down to the Polo grounds. Over and from between the tree tops one could catch glimpses of the riders in riding helmets, riding breeches and riding boots, every bit equestrian and smart. When my turn came for riding a horse, a chestnut brown one, I was a bit apprehensive. However, my heart rate stabilized soon and though I looked ridiculous riding a horse while clothed in formal wear, I might have also looked like a fat, brown saheb on his brown horse. We were asked to slap the neck and the back of the horse to show our appreciation. It came naturally to me, the appreciation in 'ek do ek' time period.

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