Posted On Monday, July 16, 2012 at 08:50:20 AM
Rani has a black thread around her ankle to deflect the evil eye. This wouldn’t be curious if she wasn’t a mare. After you spend some time around horses, it’s easy to think of them as big dogs. But those who do spend time around horses will point out that they’re nothing like dogs.
For one, when the horse feels neglected, he has an unmissable (and a little stronger) way of letting you know. “If Romeo feels we haven’t paid him enough attention,” says Mehernosh Patel, a businessman, “he’ll be very difficult when we ride him that day and even try to throw us off.
Then I know I have to come on the weekend and spend some time brushing him.” Mehernosh has had horses since he was a child and now his 16-year-old son Sunny is showing a talent for polo. Romeo is Sunny’s horse and the two have a bond, “because we grew up together”.
They ride together every day and Romeo’s anticipation is apparent as he restlessly stomps his feet when Sunny approaches. Their third horse is also a mare called Ferrari, but Rani holds pride of place for being the gentlest, yet the strongest and most playful one.
According to Mehernosh, the bond with a horse is very different from the bond with a house pet, like a dog. “When you ride the horse, your mind is on that task,” says Mehernosh. “You have to move as one and you become very aware of your horse’s mood. Once we get on a horse, we know exactly how he’s feeling.”
If Romeo, Ferrari or Rani see Mehernosh or Sunny after a long time, they nuzzle into him lovingly. They love carrots, glucose biscuits and raw sugar, and Romeo keeps a particular eye to see if the others are getting more treats than him.
If you’ve always wanted a horse, know this: they require the maintenance of a hit-churning movie star. They need their shoes changed every 15 to 20 days. They need to “work”, by which they mean going out for a trot twice a day to expel the energy. And that’s not it, mind you — they have braces on their ankles to prevent injury and get deep massages, down to cracking the joints, before and after strenuous games of polo and riding.
And as willful as they are, they are also obedient. We’re talking about Romeo again, who is clearly the brat of the stable. Romeo responds to a whistle of a particular pitch. “Once, at the Mahalakshmi Racecourse when all the children had come to ride, Romeo slipped out of his handler’s grip and galloped about gleefully.
It was a bit of movie scene, begging for a hero to come rescue a heroine,” says Mehernosh. Instead, Mehernosh just stood in the park and whistled. Romeo promptly trotted towards him, head hung low, knowing he’d been caught being naughty. Presumably, it’s harder to admonish a pet who looms over you.