Friday, January 13, 2017

The Intentional Equestrian An Interview with Avadh Mathrani

The Intentional Equestrian

“Horses are extremely honest beings.
They bring sincerity to the world that no human ever could.”
A.   Mathrani

The Intentional Equestrian
An Interview with Avadh Mathrani
Archived Article: 1st Publication Going Gaited 2012
No duplication without permission

Avadh Mathrani is from Indore, India. As the chief proprietor of Tudo Cavalo Equine Solutions, Avadh keeps busy maintaining stables, staff, and horses. Established in 2008, Tudo Cavalo Equine Solutions has become an award-winning establishment as well as a fun place for equestrians to hang out.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Avadh. The subtle ques beneath the interview resonates with every horse-lover; earthiness, compassion, and the aroma of horses. He’s up late tonight answering my interview questions, thinking about being an intentional equestrian, and why he loves his horses so much.

GM: Avadh, you live in India. Where exactly in India?
AM: I’m originally from a place called Pune, which is this big metro a couple of hours from Bombay (Mumbai) but am currently based in Indore, which is a state of Madhya Pradesh (literally “Middle State”) right in the heart of the country. It’s not as big or as progressive as Pune, but opportunity knocked and there was no way I would have been able to afford in Pune the things I can over here, including the business.

GM: When did you begin riding?
AM: Wow… uhm… I started when I was 11. I never really liked horses to begin with – but my mother wanted to learn how to ride. In those days the only place was the National Defense Academy and the trip there took about an hour and a half. She didn’t want to do it alone, so she dragged me along. Then, a couple of months down the line, she had a fall and quit and for some reason, I just kept on going.

GM: Why do you love horses?
AM: Wow… that’s a tough one. They cost me thousands every month. I have to give up many, many luxuries so that I can have them. They make my home, clothes, and car smell like manure. There are a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t like them, really. But, seriously, horses have a certain honesty to them that you cannot find in people. Also, sometimes I feel like a bit of an artist – every horse needs a different shade of color and demands a varying stroke. Every horse I have ever known has had a story. I guess what makes me a such a sucker for punishment is the constant need to know that story, and every day I manage to piece together a little bit more of the never-ending puzzle that each animal presents. They are sort of like giant smelly rubix cubes.

GM: How many horses do you have? Are they all Marwari?
AM: Currently, we have 15 horses here in Indore, all of which are riding school types. The centre is still under construction and we have a few more scattered around the country who will join us once we are finished with the process of building the place. None of my horses are Marwari. Everything is off the track or rescued thoroughbreds with the exception of one desi half bred pony.

GM: What do you feed your horses?
AM: Our horses get a pretty simple, but efficient diet. We very carefully map out and balance feed: work ratios and feed regimes are checked and changed (if necessary) once a week. Unfortunately, pasture is not very good here and land is limited. Our horses get a uniform 12 kgs of dry grass (read as: hay) which is usually Bermuda, or I think it is anyway. When the season permits, we supplement this with fresh Lucerne as well.

As for concentrates, we feed cooked barley, cooked corn and wheat bran. We throw in a few traditional herbal supplements to those who require it as well. We have just gotten ourselves a pressure cooker for the barley which does almost 50 kgs in just under three hours – before this we had to cook it for over 14 hours.

GM: Do you hobble your horses as is customary in India?
AM: We never ever hobble our horses, ever. When we go to events or competitions, we carry collapsible stables or have make-shift stalls built before we arrive. I don’t condone pastern tying under any circumstances -whether at home or at shows. I have never owned a pair of hobbles and any of my horses would probably go nuts if someone tried to put something like that on them.

GM: Do you have a favorite or special horse? What makes it special?
AM: That’s a tough one. My thoroughbred, Senor Tango, who died a couple of years ago, was by far my favorite. He was the most collected, calm, relaxed horse I have ever known. He had this ridiculous somber expression on his face and his “worry lines” seemed to be tattooed on. But, for the six odd years that I had him with me, he never once said “No” to any obstacle or backed down from anything. At his peak, that horse jumped close to six foot fences, and you could put a three year old on him right after. He was a hit with my riding students and did well in whatever we tried. Still, he never managed to get that worried expression off his face.

Currently, although I should probably say that my own TB stallion, Saddam, is my favorite – he isn’t. We have a school horse called “MadEye” who has just one eye. There is something about the fact that he is flying over three foot fences with a hole in his head that makes him the best in my stable.

GM: As a seasoned equestrian, do you have a favorite breed of horse?
AM: I’ve ridden warmbloods, TBs, Marwaris, and while you can’t really beat a warmblood at what it’s bred to do, I will always have a soft spot for a good OTTB. They have something in them that I have never gotten from any other breed. Also, I find some amount of inner serenity knowing that while I could probably afford to import a warmblood, or get one of my clients or investors to do it. For every TB I take off the course for free, that’s one less TB tied up to some gig somewhere in a dusty street ferrying ten times more people and weight than it is designed to take.

GM: Tell us about your favorite place to ride…
AM: I’m afraid this is not terribly exciting. My favorite place to ride is my arena.

GM: How often do you ride?
AM: Well, since I started the business, I don’t get as much time as I would like to but I do try and ride at least three times a week. Most of my time is spent teaching, training my staff, and then running around doing much dreaded admin work.

GM: Do you participate in equestrian events such as endurance races?
AM: Not much anymore – I used to regularly take part in National Level show jumping events – but, that was a while ago. I do hope to get back to it with Saddam later next year though.

GM: Do you attend Pushkar and Tilwara, or any other horse fairs?
AM: No, I have been to “desi” fair only once, many years ago – and never went again. I do hope to start doing farrier drives and clinics at these places once the business is totally on its own feet.  My team does, however, go out to just about every equestrian competition in the country. We have a formidable group of young riders and horses on our side.

GM: What do horses add to the world/what would your world be without horses?
AM: Like I said before, horses are extremely honest beings. They bring sincerity to the world that no human ever could. If you hurt them, they will show you their pain; if you respect them, they will respect you back; if you scare them, they will fear you; and if you love them, they will love you in return. In fact, we, as people, could never dream of the same clarity in our interactions with each other. Many folk spend their whole lives looking for God, or His forgiveness. In a way, a horse is a step beyond divine – even “God’s” forgiveness comes with a condition of penance and repentance. A horse, on the other hand, will take abuse quietly, tolerate manhandling gracefully, refuse to work, but the chances of revenge or retaliation are too few to be noted – having said that, even God made it rain for 40 days and 40 nights.

My world without horses? I have never even considered that. I would lose my only real source of sanity, and would probably be stuck in some mundane, boring profession like being a war-time journalist or astronaut or something.

GM: What equestrian(s) inspire you the most?
AM: Ok – I’m probably going to take a beating for this later – but my equestrian idol would have to be my former coach. Col. G.M. Khan. In his time, he was the closest thing we had to a world class equestrian and in his career he did more with the limited resources of the day than most did or are doing. People might question his methods, or his ways – but, you never forget your first coach. We were always over-awed by him. I remember lessons where we’d start at 4 am and ride hard till 11 am, switching between six horses each. We had blisters between our fingers, bloody ankles from badly fitted boots, torn breeches and grazed legs – all this at ag 13. But in the five years I rode for his team, six days a week, I never missed a lesson. And neither did any of my teammates at the time.

GM: What are your goals as an equestrian, horse breeder and trainer?
AM:  Ooooh…. There are too many to list. One of my top priorities right now is to develop the centre I am currently working on. Next in line is to slowly develop an “Indian Sport Horse” so to speak. This will involve the creation of a type of Indian Warmblood I suppose. Think of a Marwari x Clydesdale. How awesome would that be? Geez, I can already feel the conservatives loading their guns. But, yeah, all in all, I just want to be the best I can be for my horses, teach the best I can teach for everyone else’s horses and learn the most I can learn for myself. If along the way I can make some money and manage to quit smoking – that would be a bonus.

Author’s note…
Since this interview, Mathrani has validated his horsemanship over and over. He is now the author of The Intentional Horseman – a blog about his past, present, and future…

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