Author: Shamanth B S
Source: The Hindu
Horseback riding is perhaps one of the most sought-after activities today. And why shouldn’t it be? Besides offering a plenty of health benefits, equestrian sport helps one adopt a lifestyle that can be both challenging and calming. In 1967, when Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) was established, commoners perceived the sport to be for the elite. However, the perception faded with the advent of the equestrian academy that provided training grounds for the residents, too.
Agram Riding and Polo Academy (ARPA), located within the Army Service Corps (ASC) centre and college, is one such army school in Bangalore that runs coaching camps for horse riders interested in equestrian sports. Its ground, spread over 40 acres of land, includes show jumping arena, two dressage arenas, and two polo grounds. Competitive riding skills are taught to both young and adult equestrian riders to not just improve their balance and coordination, but to enhance their overall personality.
The academy has many potential riders with 10-year-old Angel Beulah being one of them. Starting at the age f 7, Angel, a student of Bishop Cotton girls’ school, has been riding for the ARPA team since 2012. Her days start at 4:00 in the morning and she has won a medal for having control over the horse.
“Horse riding helps an individual to be more dedicated, develops will power and determination. After joining the academy, I have seen this big change in my daughter. She concentrates better now and is enthusiastic about being around her horse. At times, it is tough for us to comfort her,” said Rajesh Fernando, Angel’s father.
Further, ARPA also conducts classes for the specially-abled student during weekends with Healing Horses, a non-profit organisation aimed to provide therapy for disabled persons of all ages, through the unique practice of therapeutic riding. These rides help students recover in a short period of time. In fact, Healing Horses is the first in India to introduce equine therapy or therapeutic riding.
“We use aged or retired horses to treat specially-abled kids. I give sensory inputs like eye-hand coordination, colour sense and smell through horses to kids, who are impaired with motor or sensory functions. A child develops broad vision by sitting on the horse, can hold everything ones a child starts to hold the string of horse, stimulation are given from all sides to improve their postural and muscular movement, which is also called physiotherapy,” said Usha Bopaiah, founder of Healing Horses, who has treated more than 400 specially-abled kids.
“My daughter has learned more from the horses than us. Earlier, she was struggling to move her ankles and wrists, but this place has brought a major change in her body movements,” said Raghav S, father of Nikita, a paraplegic.
Another student, Anuj Arora, a gold medalist of ARPA, is looking forward to having a career as an equestrian. Talking about the game, Anuj’s father, Lt. Col Ashok Kumar said: “It is the easiest way to develop the personality. Kids learn to take quick decisions and adopt leadership skills in a short period of time. There is a need for awareness about this game. One has to pay a very subsidized fee of Rs3,000 per month, which includes the essential accessories for horse riding.”