RIDING COMES naturally to 18-year-old Ameera Pasrich. This teenager from New Delhi started riding when she was just three years old, having developed the love for Polo from her father, Amir Singh Pasrich, who is a lawyer by profession, but loves playing the sport.
But what makes Pasrich’s story more fascinating is the fact that it wasn’t just her father who inspired her to take up polo professionally. It was her horse Taqdeer—a Kathiawari polo pony—who played a pivotal role as well. “I met Taqdeer when I was volunteering with the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre in New Delhi two years back. He had been hit by a truck and one of his legs was completely shattered. I told my father I wanted to adopt him, but he said I could only bring him home if I could ride him,” Pasrich recalls.
What followed was a long and arduous journey. Pasrich started looking after the animal, which was so scared after the accident that it would run away even if anybody sneezed near it. With no space in the rescue centre to ride, Pasrich took it for riding on roads. It took her weeks, she says, to get the horse accustomed to riding. “He threw me off a couple of times and kicked me in the mouth, but more than anyone else, it was Taqdeer who inspired me to play polo,” she says. A lover of horses, Pasrich recalls how growing up, she would often spend time immersed in horse encyclopedias and documentaries.
Also, Pasrich has not restricted herself to just polo. She recently completed a 40-km horse riding endurance race in Jodhpur and has also taken part in the junior national event for dressage and jumping along with polo. Her next aim is to compete at low-goal competitions, as well as the all women’s polo chukker in March this year.
Riding, she says, could become a rage in the country if there were better breeds of horses and good trainers. Also, her initial experience of taking care of Taqdeer taught her something else. It’s important that animals are treated with care, she says. “There should be strict laws against people who mistreat animals because then they will never perform. In polo or riding, it’s all about cooperation. You can’t think of dominating the animal,” she says.
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Injuries and bruises are par for the course, says Pasrich, who has fractured her arm six times, but can’t imagine giving up the sport. In fact, she is now concentrating on building her core strength. “Polo is a great sport for women because men and women are given equal weightage in it. It’s a sport that is empowering women,” she says, adding, “Instead of looking at images of dresses online, women should start looking at other women who play on the field and take inspiration.”