Equestrian Asheesh Dabriwal with Mister Ouistreham, a member of the Selle Francais breed. Mister Ouistreham’s forte is showjumping. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
He’s seven years old, reddish brown in colour, 5 ft 4 inches tall and a gelding (castrated).
Meet Mister Ouistreham, the first showjump horse imported into eastern India. He is also the first such horse to land at the airport when its owner Asheesh Dabriwal imported it from France last year.
Mister Ouistreham — that’s the name on his passport — belongs to the Selle Francais breed of France. Showjumping is the forte of this warm-blooded line.
“Racing requires horses with aggression and energy, while calm horses are needed for showjumping. For the past 15 to 20 generations, the Selle Francais breed has been conditioned for showjumping,” says 40-year-old Dabriwal, who takes part in equestrian events.
Selle Francais horses are strong, supple and have good bone structure. They are powerful movers, fast, bold, and trainable. They are considered one of France’s premier sports horses.
Mister Ouistreham was imported from Fontainebleau, around 100 miles from Paris. He was brought to Calcutta on a Lufthansa animal cargo plane, along with three other horses bound for Dubai. At the city airport, he was kept quarantined for a month while various tests were conducted.
Mister Ouistreham’s current home is Fort William Riding Institute. His day begins at dawn, when Dabriwal takes him for practice. The horse is back in the stable by 6am. In the evening, he is taken for a stroll.
“The humidity in Calcutta is much higher than the place where Mister Ouistreham comes from. So, we have to take great care to ensure that he does not get dehydrated,” says Dabriwal.
The horse drinks more than 35 litres of water daily. His diet comprises oats, gram and green grass.
“Mister has already participated in three events. His best is yet to come. The ground here is very hard. Moreover, he needs time to get acclimatised. I am looking forward to the next event on February 29,” says Dabriwal.