Riders of Assam Rifles school trot in style

Jeena Deb Barma, Tara Hamal and Yangkila Sherpa may have different reasons to join horse riding but the three of them enjoy it thoroughly and feel the positive energy that the new hobby is creating in and around them.
The three girls, all students of Class XII, are among the 18 members of the horse contingent at Assam Rifles Public School in Laitkor. The contingent, a unique feature of the school, was formed in 1984 to encourage riding among youths and instil in them the spirit of a sportsperson. Of the 18 riders, 15 are girls.
A rider should be courageous and should have the intelligence to understand the strategy of horses, say trainers at Assam Rifles. Discipline is also important for a rider.
Many students say horse riding has helped them overcome several weaknesses and made them calm and composed.
The urge to experience something new prompted Tara to join riding and she is having a “really good” time. She admits that horse riding is risky but “I have overcome the initial fear”.
“Horse riding has helped me to gain confidence and improved my mental and physical health. It has taught me how to balance my body and motivated me to perform better,” she added.
The students’ horse contingent does various activities like walk, trot, canter, galloping, dressage, exercise on the horse, jumping, tent-pegging (an equestrian discipline) and polo. The school organises annual athletics horse riding show where the students ride through cheering crowds with pride.
The contingent has been participating in the Independence Day parade in Shillong since 2010. In 2012, it received a special prize.
The training before the parade is always rigorous. The riders have four days of training in a week between 5.45 am and 6.45 am. There is another session in the afternoon. On the first day of the training, students are told about the accessories required for riding a horse. The young riders are provided riding accessories like horsebelt, helmet, riding stick and shoes, among other things. There are riders as young as four years in the school.
Yangkila joined riding in April this year because she wanted “to represent my school” in various events. “The experience of horse riding is fun, exciting and gives a wonderful feeling. Horse riding is improving my physical and mental development. It is helping me to know more about the animal… and it brings closeness towards the animal,” says the 17-year-old rider who was in the team that participated in the I-Day parade this year.
Jeena had the “equestrian hobby in mind for a long time”.
“I joined riding because of my sister who was part of the Horse Riding Contingent in the Independence Day Celebration organised by the State Government in 2008. She inspired me a lot. It is amazing,” she says and adds that now she knows the animals better and can tackle them when they go berserk.

~ Sunday Shillong