By: Eesha Duggal
I keep wondering how do horses (any animal) feel when we humans sit on them. Do they like it or they feel irritated? How would I feel, if someone sits on my back? But I think I still have to wonder, till the time I don’t learn to communicate with them.
As the sun sets amongst the Monsoon clouds, a horseman, treads his horse back home; Ridge, Shimla (Pic: Lalit Kumar)
Horse riding in Shimla is age old. It started during the British rule when Shimla was the summer capital of India. Standing tall and handsome, there are 18 horses on the Ridge, Shimla, working at a stretch for hours and carrying mostly little kids on their backs. For just Rs 20, they will bring a big smile to a child’s face, making the child tell everyone the joy of riding a horse – and the feeling of Maharana Pratap Singh or Rani Lakshmi Bai
Besides a usual common ride from the main spot (near the Mahatam Gandhi statue) on the Ridge to Asiana Restaurant and back, horse rides are available to Jakhoo Temple and sometimes to Advanced Studies as well.
However, it was nice to know that these horses are taken care of properly with equal attention to their diet. They are fed on grams everyday. Also when they catch illness, they are taken to a vetenary hospital and given good treatment.
Gopal Singh Negi is the owner of a beautiful mare ‘Dhano’ (Yes! One of the other horses is named ‘Hero No 1’. Too Cute!) on the Ridge. He says that Summer is the most valuable season for them because most of the tourists visit this point. But premature rain has spilled water on this occupation as well. Inflow of tourists to Shimla has reduced to 15-20 percent, because of untimely rains, hitting hard the tourism industry and off course these horse owners.
District Tourism department, Shimla gives an account of several reasons for less tourists pouring in This season. Five to six degrees fall in temperature in Delhi and NCR is one of the causes of this sudden decrease. Gujjar protests along with hike in air fare is another argument. Though rain is the biggest nemesis of tourism this season.
Being one of the most attractive features of The Ridge, it is expected, that the seasons to come, will again bloom their business, their only mean of living.
But, I wonder again, how horses would be feeling at this time, with their backs all free, allowing the air to touch upon them and no burden to carry, other than theirs! But I know, they won’t mind if you go near them, show some love and give them a hug. And yes, who knows, you may get a chance to see them (not so Colgate) smile at you!