This is the story of how a boy who started riding for fun became a fine rider and a promising polo player. Meet Kaushik Kumar
It was after a polo exhibition match that I met Kaushik Kumar, one of the players in the teams that had performed that day at the Bison Polo Ground. The 19-year-old did not seem very forthcoming at the start of our chat. The answers to my queries were laconic. I wondered if his team’s defeat was on his mind. No, that’s okay, he said. Both teams comprised players from the Hyderabad Polo Riding Club, where he trained, and was a member of the club’s polo team.
As we got a little further into our chat, I learned that the slim, quiet youth was not just a polo player. Kaushik was a gold medallist in the young rider section at the national equestrian championship held last year at Bengaluru. Kaushik was representing the NCC at the event.
Now the significance of that gold medal was that it was the first the NCC unit in Hyderabad won in over a decade in showjumping. Kaushik has also won silver in hacks, another equestrian event, this year and bronze in tent pegging in 2010 — both representing the NCC at Republic Day festivities in New Delhi.
Not bad for a 19-year-old. A little bit of coaxing finally did the trick: Kaushik, in his soft voice, in simple words, told me the story of how a boy who started riding for fun became a fine rider and a promising polo player.
“When I was a kid I loved animals,” said Kaushik. “I still do.”
When he and his family lived in an independent house, they had a motley bunch of beasts and birds at home: rabbits, a monkey, and pigeons and a dog. When Kaushik was about ten or twelve, his father enrolled him for a riding course at the AP Riding Club at Masab Tank.
Kaushik would be dropped at the club early in the morning and he would be in the saddle for a couple of hours learning to trot and then canter. But the beast cast such a spell on the boy that, “Even when everyone in my batch left after classes, I, with a dreamy look in my eyes, would stay back and watch the horses being broken, trained and fed,” Kaushik recalled.
One day Kaushik’s coach Khaddar Siddiqui, when he found him in one of his dreamy watching sessions, asked him why could he not help him with training the horses and other work at the stable.
Kaushik was thrilled and began learning the nuances of breaking and training horses which helped him become what he is today.
Kaushik is gearing up for the national equestrian championship that will start by the end of May in Bangalore. After that he will start preparing for the polo season in September.