RS Bonnie Dundlod and Col. Sarpartap Singh at the Turkey Equestrian Martial Sports Festival with the world record holder archer Kassai.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Col Sarpartap Singh, Equestrian
Retired Col Sarpartap Singh is the ultimate equestrian. He is the Vice President of the Indigenous Horse Society of India, Vice President of the Punjab Equestrian Association, President Lakhi Sindhi Horse Breeders Society, member Tentpegging Committee Asian Equestrian Federation Horseshow organizer, Equestrian Consultant, Horse Trainer, Equestrian Instructor, FEI Endurance Judge & Td, and Tentpegging Coach…
Welcome Col Singh!
Where are you in the world?
I am from India and presently living at Chandigarh, the City Beautiful.
When did you meet your first horse?
I met my first horse, a grey Bhimtari pony named White Witty, at the age of four at Deolali Maharstra, where I started my schooling. The pony was bought to encourage me to go to school by my grandfather Capt Sardar Gurbux Singh, who had come to spend some time with his daughter, my mother.
Where did you learn to ride?
Well, I really learned to ride at home where both of my grandparents, Capt Sardar Gurbux Singh and ex Hudson Horse cavalry officer and Sardar Bahadur Sardar Sunder Singh had fine stables with good horses. Both my parents, Brigadier Gurpartap Singh and my Mum, rode horses. My Dad was an excellent show jumper and tentpegger of his time, being an Artillery officer. My Mum was great at hacks a gig driving. All of them taught me how to handle horses. Later, when I got commissioned into the army, I did the Army Equitation Course which I topped, having ridden a vast number of horses - each horse a different personality with different habits; a great learning. It is here I also learned the finer points of equitation under three instructors, Col Sam Ahlawat, Col SL Reddy, and the late Major Farooque Bijli. Later, I trained under Italian Coach Nani Grigonolo for show jumping, prior to the 1982 Asian games.
How many different equestrian events have you participated?
I have participated in all equestrian events, such as dressage, three day event show jumping, hunters and tentpegging.
What is your favorite event?
As a horse show judge what defines a good horse?
A good horse should have a nice conformation with strong bones and calm temperament, be very alert, with an attitude to listen to his master rider.
As a horse trainer, what method do you use?
Patience and persuasion, never loose you’re cool, encourage your horse rather than push him to do things; it works better. You form a happy partnership.
What has been your best experience with a horse?
Best experience was with a horse named Raja, a half bred, when we started riding on the mountain trail along the Indo-Pak border in 1977 starting at 7 am. The track was very treacherous. At places we had to dismount and lead the horses. We finished this trail of almost 60 odd km at 10 .30 at night. In the hours of darkness we walked the last few km downhill. The horses showed us the way home; otherwise we would have lost our way and strayed across the border. This confirmed my belief that horses can never go wrong.
What has been your most challenging experience with a horse?
This was at Kanndy Race Course at Sri Lanka where I had gone to train some tentpegger. After finishing the training session, we returned to the stables to find that one rider and mare Goldilocks had not returned to the stables. It was beginning to get dark and cold since the weather had packed up. We set out to look for them when we saw the rider walking back with his bridle in his hand, totally smeared in slush. On asking him about the mare, we were told that some stray dogs started chasing the mare, she spooked and jumped into a 20 ft deep nullah (drain) running near one of the gates of the race course. Then started a night of ordeal; as we reached the spot we found this young mare struggling for life as the soil was not only slush but more like quicksand. The more she struggled the more she would go deeper. Something had to be done and quick or we would loose the mare.
After all manual efforts of cutting a way out failed, I got a JCB, put a few guys to climb down and slip two ropes under the belly of the mare. These were then tied to the JCB and the mare hauled out. She was sort of dazed when she was suspended in air. The moment her feet touched on the ground, she broke loose and ran back to the stable.
It was one hell of a night, dark and cold with most guys, even the owner, giving up hope. At last we had saved this beautiful mare. It was a wonderful moment with tears of joy running down most eyes present.
What is it like to ride a Marwari or Indian breed vs. other breeds?
It’s a wonderful feeling to ride any Indian horse as compared to the other breeds; that they have a nice strong back. They are light to handle and very daring. They don’t spook that easy and you can lead them to go anywhere, and above all they are very concerned about their riders. Riding a good Indian breed and seeing through its ears as you ride is like seeing the world through the sites of a good rifle.
Did you enjoy the Queens Jubilee?
Yes. It was a wonderful experience, meeting up with some good horsemen and women from different parts of the world.
What has been your major accomplisment as an equestrian?
Winning a bronze at the national show jumping championships at new Delhi Jaipur polo grounds on a horse named Chetak, which I borrowed a day before the event.
What is your advice to the younger generation in India in context to taking up riding as a passion and profession?
It’s passion. They don’t know what they are missing out. Get involved to find out it’s the most passionate experience of life. You shall forget all other things, as the profession may not make you that rich, but you will never be wanting for cash either.
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