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The Marwari Horse

British Team - photo by Caroline Moorey

GB Team Win Gold in India

Four endurance riders from Great Britain took on the challenge of riding the magnificent Marwari horse in the '1st International Invitational Endurance Championship' on the edge of the Great Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India.

A four day event consisting of the 60, 80 and 100km Indian national trials as well as this inaugural 50km International race. Most of the teams competing in the national trials were from the Indian Army and were stunning in all their regimental tack and uniforms. Those competing in the international race were representing France, Scotland, Sri Lanka, India and GB.

This event was organised by the Rajasthan Equestrian Association and the Equestrian Federation of India and was run under FEI rules with FEI officials travelling great distances to be there to invigilate. The Marwari horses were kindly provided by 'The Indigenous Horse Society of India' in order to raise the breed profile and show the capability of the Marwari Horse.

British Team - photo by Caroline Moorey
The four British Riders taking on the challenge were Lesley-Ann Parker, Fiona Griffiths, Caroline Moorey and Bryony Dickins. There was no crewing on course although animal troughs were filled with fresh water en route, sharing it with camels, wandering cows and donkeys made it all the more interesting! The venue was a sandy polo field which made for a fast getaway but then the course followed small streets through the town of Dundlod with all its hazards and out on to the desert tracks. The British girls led from the start. Lesley-Ann and Fiona were fastest through the and led through the 2nd loop and despite a tense gathering of a couple of the other teams all getting to the last water trough together, Lesley-Ann and Fiona were able to push ahead and arrived back at the venue ahead of the competition. The results in our class were team gold for Great Britain and individual gold to Lesley-Ann Parker and Silver to Fiona Griffiths.

photo by Caroline Moorey
The team was commended by the organisers and FEI officials of the competition not only for their riding and caring of the Marwari horses during the race but also for their help and support to the other competitors throughout the rest of the event. It was a great chance to make some wonderful friends and learn so much about riding in a different terrain, being sensitive to a different culture and sharing knowledge of endurance riding from Great Britain.

It must be noted that it is a novelty for ladies to ride competitively in India and news of the visit by an all lady GB team had inspired two local ladies colleges to enter teams for the very first time in the sports history, hence radio, tv and newspaper interviews spread around the district. It is hoped that our experience in India will inspire other riders to take such challenges, riding can bring nations and cultures closer, thanks to the horse.