A horse ride

The hotel receptionist advised us to go for horse riding and so there we were outside the hotel, haggling with the horse jockeys to decide the rates.

Once it was decided, 11 horses for us 11 individuals were arranged and we set off on our horse riding experience.

No one had earlier rode horses for much time, and we embarked upon the slowest horse journey till date. If any one from outside had seen me riding the horse, he would have mistaken me for a Maratha horseman, but on the inside, I was very apprehensive.

The other experience of horse riding we had had, was in our friendly neighbourhood Matheran. But the horse owners were very patient with us, I think most of the tourists they had experienced, must have been similar expert horse riders like us. We had a very long ride, not in terms of the distance covered, but in the amount of time spent on top of the horses.

All along, all of us, except the children, were very much intent on maintaining our balance. A slight trot of the horses was enough to make us very jittery. And the ride on the slopes was another nightmare, especially if you are going downhill!!

The front legs of the horse are at a lower level whereas the hind legs are at higher elevation, you are not sure whether you should be bending forward or stretching back to maintain balance and on top of that, you can only see the steep incline before you. And god save the people like me who suffer from Vertigo. Anyhow I managed the incline without falling off the horse.

Suddenly my friend decided that he was going to emulate the Chambal dacoits, in showing off his riding skills and his horse shot out beyond us. We were marvelling at his horse riding and I was telling others about his cycle riding and bike riding skills in his college days, and as we turned the corner there he was sitting by the side under a tree, nursing his injuries, his horse nearby, happily chomping away on the grass.

Concerned, we immediately got down from our own horses to check on him and very relieved that it was just a few bruises but obviously he was in pain. The rest of us, except the children, thought it better to walk along side him to take him to a medical shop, but obviously we thought it better to save ourselves from meeting the same fate as our friend.

So ended our first horse riding experience in the valley of Kashmir, culminating with a visit to the medical. Of course, later on we had a good laugh over it, the friend who fell, enjoying it the most, such is his great sportsmanship.

Yatindra Tawde

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