I sometimes think that Vasanth, who I first met ten years ago and now co-ordinates our transport, used to dread my return trips to Mysore. I’d often arrive with an idea for a new project. One such project was my interest in horse riding. It actually lasted a few trips. We searched far and wide for opportunities for me to go horse riding. Vasanth was convinced we’d get nowhere. I was beginning to believe him. He found tourist horse riding trips in Srirangaptnam, nope not my ‘cup of tea’, we even visited the stables at the horse race course. Nothing! I was sure, there had to be something.
Then one day, we had one of those typical India experiences. I was leaning over a garden wall admiring a small traditional Mysore house. The lady came out and we got chatting. I complemented her on the house and garden, as you would, and happened to mention our search for horse riding.
” Oh” she said,”you should go meet my father, he’ll be able to help.” He was an officer in the Mounted Police. Well, sharpish we headed down there and tentatively entered the grand horse-shoe-shaped archway entrance and result! our project was a complete success.
it works out that the Riding School of Mysore was with the mounted police. I kid you not! After a meet with the Commandant I became a visiting member.
It worked like this:
if you wanted a ride that morning, a member would go to the horse exercising and practice fields before 6am
It would still be dark but one could hear the movement of men and horses, with snorts and neighs…. As the darkness was broken by sun rise and any mist began to lift, there were up to 50 men and horses lined up on parade. The officer on duty would check all his men were in line and in horsey attention, then ride and report to the commandant, who by now had arrived and was smartly facing his men. The officer reported on who was and wasn’t there and the plans for the day.
Once the ritual of being ‘on parade’ was completed Commandant Shetty would turn to whoever had arrived from the ‘Riding School’ and after a short ‘how are you?’ informal sort of conversation, would call over sufficient men to give up their horses for the members of the ‘School’ waiting there.
It was absolutely amazing. Who would have believed it possible to go borrow mounted police and horses to go riding in a morning. If just one person had turned up, more often than not, you’d do left to your own devices to ride your horse alone in one of the fields. Otherwise a policeman might lead you in an improvised lesson.
I subsequently discovered that many locals learned to ride in exactly this way.
One of the many unique ways of life in the city I would later adopt and move to.
I was reminded of all this on reading this article about …..