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Fortunately for Assam Valley School, they had just At both clinics, suggesting maybe the horses were appointed a new Riding Master a lovely gentleman from unsuitable was not an option. I had told the advanced Manipur (the birthplace of modern polo), and he seemed students at Assam Valley School that it will become their to have a more classical and modern knowledge base duty to school the horses so that they become easier to horse care and training than the old taskmaster, who for the beginners to ride and learn on. Resources are had been somewhat demoted to assistant riding coach. limited. Even looking at the saddles, I realised they were It was most amusing to see the old coach busily raising the type I saw landed in Australia for about $70 each. the jumps to Olympic heights in the paddock while I was To suggest replacing them with a Wintec (changeable working on the students inside the arena. As he told me, gullet for different shaped horses and less maintenance) “I’ve been here 13 years and that boy there jump over would be way beyond their current financial means. And 145cm - best rider in India - my pupil” - ah my diplomacy the old guards of horsemen have been there for many had to stay in top gear at all times. But, I did not send years, and I as a fleeting visitor have no right to storm in any of the boys over those jumps! and turn their world upside down. Respect is paramount. But the students made the clinics the most joyful and Back in Dibrugarh, Manoj and his equestrian manager, rewarding experience in my 35 years of coaching - they Brigadeer Rao, a retired cavalry officer and a veterinarian never complained, totally responsive to any instructions had arranged a “riding camp” for six students from and showed extreme happiness at even the smallest Dibrugah Public School. Rao, like a true cavalryman, runs of improvement. Thank you Manoj for this tremendous a far more regimented operation from grooming, stable experience. Would I return? Most definitely. management to tacking up and mounting. Lucia Okumura The horses at Jalan Estate, all ex-racehorses, are regularly worked by stable staff, and are also used for Bio: Lucia Okumura has been teaching children and adults tourists on holidays to ride through the tea gardens since her early teens and passed the Level 1 General or more spectacular, along the banks of the mighty accreditation in 1982 under the then National Coach, Tor Brahmaputra River. However, they are not easy horses, Burman. She.“retired” to pursue other interests in the especially for young 13 year-olds with a year’s riding 90’s. However, with her daughter joining pony club, Lucia experience. But how determined were they!! So it was has renewed her accreditation and is enjoying a renewed 5 days to achieve a simple task - canter, then canter a life as a coach - more pro bono than business 20m circle without getting taken across the arena, head Thank you to Lucia, Vanessa and Belinda for sharing their up in the air back to the other horses. Brigadeer Rao was stories with us. always present at the morning lessons and when I once offered a crop, he roared “no whips, use your legs!” (ah Sue Birch the old school I was raised in, but I did sneak one to the NCAS Co-ordinator boy in the afternoon and it made a big difference!) The NSW Equestrian smallest of the boys, legs barely past the saddle flaps, was certainly finding his horse a little strong and to follow the instruction of “sit straight and still, don’t pull back on the reins, legs (what legs)” rather daunting, but when offered a chance to try another mount his reply was “no ma’am, I will do this” - and “do this” he did after 2 days and 4 lessons of struggling. Not a tear of frustration, just a look of determination. What joy they were to teach. 89


Equestrian_NSW_Yearbook_2011
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