These Chennai horse riders are making a mark in equestrian sports

Watch | These Chennai horse riders are making a mark in equestrian sports

“It’s okay. Why are you so startled,” Aadithri Rajaram asks her horse Knockout, gently patting him. Aadithri, who has been riding horses for eight years now, is new to the world of tournaments. She has only been competing since last year. However, she has already won a gold medal in the Senior Dressage Nationals in Puducherry.

Dressage is an Olympic sport where the horse and the rider need to perform dance moves synchronised with music. Aadithri is adept now. She is aiming for more glory with her horse this year, but so are several other young riders at OMR’s Chennai Equitation Centre (CEC). These riders are on a high, following success at the 2023 Junior Nationals (in Bengaluru) and Senior Nationals (in Puducherry).

Ananya Sajit, Aadithri R, Kevin Gabriel, Samanna Everaa, Miraya Dadhabhoy and Dhikshith KS at Chennai Equitation Centre
| Photo Credit:
S Shiva Raj

Take the example of 14-year-old Miraya Dhadabhoy who knows a thing or two about dressage, having won gold and silver medals with her horse FT. “It’s almost like dancing,” she beams, “We do a series of prescribed movements and are awarded a score. I enjoy dressage because the difference between winning and losing is slim. It is also convenient because you realise where exactly you went wrong and work on that for the next time.”

For many who are now winning medals in competitions, the urge to take up the sport stems from their fascination for horses.

“This is Zarya, a mare who turned 12 recently,” says Ananya Sajit, 13, as she introduces us to her horse she has been riding since August 2022. Ananya shares a close bond with Zarya. “This is because of the quality time I have spent with her. When you travel for competitions, it is important to let the horse understand that she can trust you and that you will keep her safe.”

Like Ananya, Samanna Everaa too looks at her horse, Soulmate, as her best friend. “I feel like he understands me and listens to my problems,” says Samanna.

Actor Karthi with the riders

Actor Karthi with the riders
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Apart from dressage, riders here also train for eventing and show jumping. Kishore Futnani of CEC believes in ‘catching them young’ when it comes to riders. “I check if it is only the parents who are interested, or if the child is too. Once we spot some kind of passion in the children, we build on it,” says Kishore, who has been actively involved in promoting the sport.

There is also more awareness about it in recent times. Actor Karthi, who rode a horse in the Tamil film Ponniyin Selvan, met up and interacted with these riders recently.

Kishore is thrilled to see the emergence of women riders, many of whom are making heads turn in the national horse riding circuit. “For this sport, you need tremendous mental strength and great communication and multitasking skills. This is probably the only sport in the world where there is no separate women’s category. The sport is here to stay, and in the years to come, India will win at the Olympics,” he says.