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Photos: The Meerut equestrian centre that’s trained Asian Games medallists

Updated: Sep 11, 2018 09:20 IST

Lt Col Bharat Singh, training officer of Army Equestrian Node at the Equestrian Faculty of Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. There are Army horse training centres across the country, including in Karnataka, Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, but the Equestrian Node at Meerut is the only one that trains show horses. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Set up in 2001, the Equestrian Node later came under the Army’s Olympic Mission wing, which prepares young talent from within the force for the Olympics. Army riders and horses that show exceptional talent are deputed to the Node to train. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

The Jakarta win wasn’t the first — a total of 15 Army men have won bronze before this, in the 1986 Seoul, 1998 Bangkok, 2002 Busan and 2006 Doha Asian Games, all in the team equestrian events. There were individual wins too, a gold and a silver in 1982. The recent wins have been a particular thrill for the Equestrian Node, because their mission is medals. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

There are currently 14 riders and 28 sporting horses training at the Node. Daily drills start at 4.30 am and cover cantering (a controlled, 3-beat gait), show jumping (clearing fences and hurdles elegantly), and dressage (in which horse and rider perform skilled movements from memory). (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Each horse gets a cubicle lined with grass and fresh hay so they can sleep comfortably. There are fans for when it gets hot, and vets on call round the clock. The horses even get radio-therapy to increase circulation. “In bad weather, we have special treadmills the horses can use for exercise,” says Lt Col Singh. There’s also an underwater treadmill with jet sprays, for hydrotherapy. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Army recruits give a bath to their horses. Trainers also include international experts, as well as experienced Army riders. The logic of this node is that there are few other places where Indians can afford to train in this field. Unless you’re in a posh riding club, or in the Army, winning an equestrian medal is out of bounds. And this formula seems to be working. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Aside from the medal winners --Rakesh Kumar, Captain Ashish Malik and Jitender Singh along with civilian Fouaad Mirza --several Army riders from previous batches have also qualified for the Asian Games. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

Major Prince Kurian (L) along with Lt Col Bharat Singh. “A horse is just like a young child. You need to be careful in dealing with them,” says Lt Col Singh. “If they are being naughty, you reprimand them by using a slightly harsher tone. But you also need to show them affection; hug them, talk to them and shout encouraging words like ‘Shabash ghoda!’. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

For now the medal clinching team remains the hot topic of conversation at the Equestrian Node. But with each morning, the recruit riders and horses here in Meerut are busy working towards further laurels, and cries from instructors ring out –Kadam, kadam (Step by step)!” “Aagey badh (Move forward)!” (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

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