The upcoming Mahakali Ashwa Mela at Ambod is slated to be a decorated affair, with participation of as many as eight policemen from the state and 70 personnel from the Indian Army. These teams will ride alongside nearly 100 civilian equestrians from the country in the endurance race at the event, which kicks off on Sunday.
The eight participating cops from the state police include joint CP of special branch & additional director of anti-corruption bureau (ACB) Shamsher Singh along with mounted division police inspector LF Vasava and mounted PSI MS Barot among others. Singh, an avid equestrian, said that they have been training regularly and rigorously over the past fortnight for the event.
“A horse needs to be physically in tune with its rider and have the stamina to be able to finish the race. This has been our primary goal throughout the recent training. During the qualification round, the horse’s heartbeat is constantly monitored to see if it is normal. In case of high heartbeat, the horse may be disqualified for health reasons,” he explained.
As a cautionary tale of the heartbeat’s importance, one need only glance at the state police’s participation in the same event last year. Only one of the participating state police horses was cleared to race, while the rest were all disqualified due to high heartbeat.
“It was an impromptu decision to participate last year, and we did not undergo any special training before the race. As a result, most of our horses were disqualified,” Singh said.
Determined not to witness a repeat of their previous outing, the participating cops have been putting their equines through their paces. “For us and the horses to be ready for the 40-km run, we have been doing 15-km runs in mornings and evenings on certain days and checking the heartbeats of the horses to ensure they are able to sustain themselves during the race,” said Vasava, who is in charge of the mounted police’s Ghoda Camp at Asarwa in the city.
“We have also trained at the track prepared for the recently-held All-India Police Equestrian Meet (AIPEM) near Karai to adapt to the various uphill and downhill terrains that encompass such endurance races,” Singh added.
Spotlight on horse trade fair
According to Anish Gajjar, co-organiser of Mahakali Ashwa Mela, various events will be held from February 9-17 at the riverbed near Ambod village in Gandhinagar district. “We are expecting as many as 1,000 participants this time, primarily from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, much higher than the 350-odd we witnessed last year. The main attraction is the horse trade fair, while equine competitions include endurance races (20, 40, 60, 80, 120 km), barrel race, pole bending, obstacle course, breed show along with displays of traditional riding skills through ghado levo, horse dance and shrungaar events. Winners of the events will take away Rs3 lakh in prizes along with trophies and medals,” he said.