Thursday, February 03, 2011

Gujarat to host first equestrian endurance championship

AHMEDABAD: Will home-bred Kathiawadi and Marwari horses be able to compete with the famed Arabian horses? This Sunday will test the endurance of 30 horses in the first edition of Gujarat's equestrian endurance competition on a 10 km track in Santej near Ahmedabad. The horses, from Gujarat and Rajasthan, belonging to industrialists, farmers and horse enthusiasts, will be tested for their strength, ability to negotiate hurdles and health.

Anish Gajjar, founder of Equestrian Club of Gujarat and organizer of the event, told TOI that the sport is conducted in 20, 40, 60, 80 and 120 kilometre races at national and international levels. "As this is the first initiative for the state, we are going for a 20 km race in two loops for the open category, while there is a shorter 10 km race for the junior category of horse riders. We also have a category for women," said Gajjar. The event will take place at Santej.

Why Ahmedabad? "The event has always been a bastion of Arabian breeds at national and international levels. However, we have an interesting mix of breeds including Marwari, Kathiawadi, thoroughbreds and mixed breeds in the state with quite a few enthusiasts. It will be an interesting competition and an exhibition of their strength," said Gajjar.

According to organizers, in an endurance race, the winning horse is the first to cross the finish line while stopping periodically to pass a veterinary check that deems the animal fit to continue. Before the ride, horses are inspected by a veterinarian to ensure they are fit to participate in the race. The rider who reaches the destination first after passing all the periodic exams is declared the winner. The event is being organized according to the rules of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), and with support from the Marwari Horse Society of India (MHSI). British equestrian trainer Philippa Waterfield will co-ordinate the event.

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