Saturday, December 26, 2009

Horse Endurance Championship Rajasthan

The 2nd International Invitational Endurance Championship was held at Dundlod, in the Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, this month. Indian and international riders participated as members of teams or as individuals. In the photo from Flickr, Francesca Kelly is mounted on her Marwari horse Gajraj, with other riders carrying team flags at the opening ceremony on 8th December.

The endurance race was 81km in length, and to qualify for international races horses have to complete it with an average speed of 16km per hour. Every 20km the horses were checked by veterinarians. The Indian Army teams from Saharanpur, mounted on thoroughbred horses, won gold and silver. A team from the Chattisgarh Police were supposed to participate (mounted on thoroughbreds) but could not attend. The bronze was taken by Team Britain mounted on Marwari horses; teams and individuals from the US, UK, Italy, Russia, Sri Lanka, and France also participated. They were provided with Marwari horses from the stables of Rawal Devendra Singh of Nawalgarh and Kanwar Raghuvendra Singh of Dundlod (below right), who is also Secretary General of the Indigenous Horse Society of India (IHSI).

On the occasion India's indigenous horse breeds received recognition from the postal department, which released four stamps commemorating the Marwari (Rajasthan State), Kathiawari (Gujarat State), Zanskari (Ladakh region of J&K State), and Manipuri (Manipur State) breeds. Apart from the endurance championships, riders from the Dundlod stables exhibited traditional Indian equestrian skills in tent pegging, jumping, dressage, and dance. The six-day event was organised by the Indigenous Horse Society of India and the Rajasthan Equestrian Association, and was held at the Royal Equestrian Polo Centre Dundlod, owned by Kanwar Raghuvendra Singh of Dundlod. There has been little coverage in the media for this equestrian sporting event, which ended on December 12, and the photos and information provided here is from wildlife photographer Satyendra Kumar Tiwari's blog and other offline sources.