Thursday, September 1, 2016

Riding Marwari: Indian Cowboy Saif Patel


Riding Marwari: Indian Cowboy Saif Patel
by Gina McKnight
Archived Article from the August 2016 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.

Traveling around the world, now residing in his home country of India, Saif Patel is a horseman. His riding photos and long-sleeve white shirt with Marwari written down the sleeve caught my eye. I connected with Saif and we talked about his horses, riding, and much more.

With his Marwari horses, he has captured the art of roping cattle. Saif explains, “I am not sure if you are aware of this, but my stallion Tarzan is the world’s first Marwari horse to be trained for roping and cutting, and I am the first cowboy in India to also do so. Tarzan is fully trained by me, and to my surprise, he has natural instinct to work with cattle and has no fear whatsoever.”

And what about his long-sleeve, white Marwari shirt? “The Marwari logo shirts, I had them custom made,” Saif explains. “Three of them here in India and lots of people asked me about them and are interested in them. I thought about selling them. It’s a good business idea, my own clothing line for Indian horsemen in future!”   

GM: When did you learn to ride?  
SP: I grew up in a small village in Gujarat state, India, there were not many horses in the area at the time. At the age of 12, myself and my elder brother befriended a caretaker at a nearby farm which stabled a few Sindhi breed horses, he allowed us take one horse for a ride and that was my first horse riding. Later, when I moved to Canada, I often joined trail riding classes and that's when I learned more about horses and riding. 

GM: I’ve seen photos of your Marwari – Badboy Badal and Tarzan – they are gorgeous. You write that Badal is “meanest and baddest as ever and he is a big goof.” What horses do you currently stable besides Badal and Tarzan?
SP:Currently I have two Marwari stallions, Badal and Tarzan. Badal is 6 years old, he has very unique personality, very naughty, and playful. He is also an escape artist, he always figures out how to open the stable doors and window and slide out of his halter. He loves to play with my dog (a Rottweiler), they are both inseparable. Many of their videos are on the net and they are well known in the area. 

My other horse Tarzan is 6 ½ years old Marwari. Contrary to Badal, Tarzan is more serious and calm type. I believe he is a type of horse who can learn any discipline, he is well trained for western disciplines. I often share his photos and videos on social network.   

GM: Your photos are amazing. What enticed you into the world of photography?
SP: Thank you, I picked up this hobby in Canada. Since I enjoy traveling and having been traveled around 50 countries, I wanted to preserve my memories trough photography, because I enjoyed so much, I am always eager to travel and see new places. My philosophy about photography is “the whole world is a big studio, you just need a camera and you can capture anything.” I dedicated my last 2 years in India capturing the beauty of Marwari horses and since I have great models at home, it makes it more fun and entertaining. 

GM: Off all of your photographs, which is your favorite?  
SP: Oh wow, there are too many favorites, but there are some that I consider the most appealing to eyes, also you might have noticed, majority of my images depict cowboy and western style photography, and that's something I enjoy the most. 

GM: Where is your favorite place to photograph?
SP: I love the Southwest USA. there are so many places so unique such as Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Zion National Park etc. 

GM: What is key to capturing the perfect photo?
SP: I never believe a camera can capture a good photo, a good photo is captured by your eyes and imagination, you need to have a good imagination to compose and create an image. Sometimes I develop an idea of a photo in my mind, also I need to find out perfect timing, lights and angles, so it takes days before I go for an actual shoot. 

GM: Do some horses photograph better than others?  
SP: To be honest, every time, I shoot photos, I feel like there is something unique about each shoot, each horse is different and each horses has unique personality, I find when they are free and you let them run, that's when you capture the real beauty of horses. Unfortunately, I don't get so many chances to photograph horses at liberty here in India because majority of horses are tied up and not many owners design facilities for them to run free. 



GM: Besides your stunning photos, I enjoy reading your captions; they are inspiring. Have you thought about publishing a book of your thoughts and photos? 
SP: My captions come from my mood and feelings, and every time I take a picture and see it on my screen, I just want my feelings to be woven with that image. Of course some are just purely for fun. I have many thoughts on publishing documentaries, educational videos, calendars, posters, books and if possible a movie. It might take some time, but I have been working on it. 

GM: What do you do besides photography?
SP: When in Canada I owned a small transport business and here in India, I am just on a long vacation after almost living 20 years abroad. I spend most of my time with horses, training them, feeding them and for myself. I work out regularly to make sure I am in shape just like my horses. I also meet up with many horse enthusiasts in the area and discuss about riding and how to improve the lives of our horses and try to educate people on how to be better riders and stay away from using cruel methods. 

GM: What horse training methods do you use?
SP: I train my horse on my own with the aid of some friends from nearby village who also own horses and are eager to learn. My training always involves disciplining my horses first. Since they are hot blood stallions, they can get distracted easily. My training programs are designed by me, I am more of a military type of guy and I prefer strict discipline when it comes to horse riding, such as I am always dressed up when I am on a horse. My horses are always well tacked up. They have set schedule for riding, training and rest. I give my horses lots of freedom, they are well fed and they get to stay in modern and comfortable stables. I think that is the key to prepare them mentally and get the best out of them. To me, it's always performance. I love working with Marwari horses, they are responsive and they have great temperament.

GM: Do you have advice for those looking to buy their first horse?
SP: Buying a first horse, my advice is simple, always know your goals and your own capacity.

GM: Do you prefer Marwari over other horse breeds?
SP: I just love to ride horses, no matter what breed it is. In India, I travel far to look for some beautiful indigenous horses such as Kathiwari, Marwari Sindhi, etc., and so far I have ridden all three major breeds. I always take pictures and shoot videos, also I interview the owners asking them to tell me more about their horses and whey they keep them ( all my interview videos are on my facebook page). 

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
SP: To me, my horse is my trainer and a partner, if you can understand your horse and learn from him, both will be in perfect harmony; be gentle, patience and caring, you also need to spend time with your horse not just only when you are riding, but when he is inside the stall, when he is grazing, and when he is in the paddock. A well trained horse is a blessing very few can have. 

GM: What’s the secret to a happy life?
SP: Can I say “get a horse and a dog?” Haha, to me, learn to appreciate and be thankful for what you have; follow your passion, value those who care about you. 

Connect with Saif Patel on facebook.

Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from USA. gmcknight.com

1 comment:

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