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Pune rides high as equestrian sports take centre stage | Pune News

PUNE: The growing love for horses among residents has given rise to several equestrian training schools in the city. The multitude of hobby as well as professional courses offered by these training schools has spurred working professionals, homemakers and even children to take up the sport.
“The thrill of riding a handsome 500kg animal is unparalleled,” Kunal Sonavane, a rider from the city, said. “Equestrian sports are different from regular horse riding. We offer training on sports like show jumping, dressage, eventing and tent pegging. Many of our students started with basic courses and now participate in competitive equestrian sports,” Gunesh Purandare, the founder of Digvijay Pratishthan Horse Riding Academy, said.
The academy has 17 horses at its training centre in Ambegaon. Learning an equestrian sport is not easy.
It requires a certain level of fitness, agility and persuasiveness. “I started learning to ride almost nine years ago. I have been participating in competitive sports like show jumping over the last four years. Horse riding is not an affordable sport, but I am extremely passionate about it,” Aditya Kurapatil, who runs a skill development startup, said.
Equestrian coaching centres charge anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 per month for a basic course.
While most students learn to ride on horses available at the academy, a few learn to ride on their own horses.
However, maintaining a horse can be an expensive affair. “Buying a horse can cost upwards of Rs 10 lakh, and one needs to hire an expert to take care of the animal’s health, food and other requirements,” Kushal Indrekar, the owner of Zurick Equestrian Club in Kharadi, said.
“The growing awareness of equestrian sports has led to an increase in enrolments,” Indrekar added.
Kunal Boyatkar, who runs Pune Equestrians in Wagholi, offers riding classes and petting activities for children among other things.
“We have about 350 students who have enrolled for activities in September and October,” he said.
Fourteen-year-old Aditi Kharat started riding in 2019 and has been a regular at the equestrian club. “Aditi is very passionate about riding, and right now, she is pursuing it as a hobby. Horse riding requires a lot of inner strength, and her trainer has been urging her to increase the protein intake,” Priya Kharat, her mother, said.
Currently, the city is in the middle of its horse racing season. The Pune Racing Season 2023 began on July 21, and will continue on till November 5.
The 19-day season is set to offer over Rs 11 crore in prize money. There has been no restriction on the participation of outstation horses, except in the lowest class races. This time, 37 trainers and 64 jockeys are participating.

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