|Equestrian buffs on horseback at the riding school near
CH Area earlier this week. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Horse riding, generally perceived as a rich man’s sport reminiscent of polo-playing royalty, is racing to popularity in Jamshedpur.
Horse Riding School near Circuit House, a one-of-a-kind cradle in Jharkhand, which had 110 members in March, has 378 now.
The secretary of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF), which took over the school’s reins from Tata Steel Officers’ Beach Club in 2009, gave the reason straight from the horse’s mouth.
“We procured three horses from Royal Calcutta Turf Club in March. That’s have taken the number of horses at the riding school to a healthy five. We have three trainers. And membership has surged way beyond what we had hoped for. People of all ages have started enrolling their names,” TSAF secretary P.P. Kapadia told The Telegraph.
The adventure outfit took over the reins of the riding school from Tata Steel Officers Beach Club in 2009. The school, once reserved for Tata Steel employees and their wards, was gradually thrown open to all.
But never had equestrian enthusiasm been so visible as now. “Suddenly, everyone wants to get on horseback. Enquiries are pouring in,” Kapadia smiled, adding they might procure more horses in the months to come, going by the “tremendous response”.
The TSAF secretary added that love for the saddle didn’t happen overnight.
“We did our bit to popularise the riding culture, printing pamphlets and distributing them in Tata Steel and other companies, schools and colleges,” he said.
As far as fee structure goes, the TSAF got off its high horse and did something that made, well, plain horse sense.
“We tweaked the fee payment system to ease load on members. Earlier, members were asked to deposit the fee for six months, but now we have begun charging on a monthly basis. No lump sum is involved,” Kapadia said.
The riding school charges a one-time registration fee of Rs 1,500 and Rs 900 as monthly subscription from non-Tata Steel people while Tata Steel employees register themselves by paying Rs 900 and then shell out Rs 400 a month.
Registered members are issued identity cards except on Tuesdays. Training timings are from 6am to 8am and 4pm to 6pm.
The course includes introduction to horses, mounting and dismounting, posture on horseback, controlling the animal’s movement, walking it and making it trot. Instructors repeat the lessons.
“You need to be fit, love the horse and earn its trust. A good rapport between the rider and the horse is a must,” said Kapadia. “Only a few cities in India boast a full-fledged riding school and Jamshedpur, known for its love for adventure and sports, is among them,” he added.
Equestrian students share this pride. “I joined the riding school in June. I love horses and always wanted to ride them,” said Ankush Kumar, a 20-year-old student of Jamshedpur Workers’ College.
Rajkumar Jaiswal, who deals in electrical appliances, agreed. “It’s because of horses that I am hooked to this sport. I squeeze out time from of my busy schedule train at the riding school,” he said.