Equestrian might not be a widely followed and popular sport in India but it has made its inroads as a niche sport. The sport also garnered a lot of interest after Fouaad Mirza’s exploits at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics.
He was the third Indian equestrian to qualify for the Olympics. It ended a two-decade long wait for Indian representation in the sport of equestrian at the Summer Games.
Equestrian in India is popularized from the Embassy International Riding School, run by Silva Storai - India’s only professional female jockey. She is the only female jockey in the world to have won two Derbies.
Silva Storai is the director of the Embassy International Riding School. She has been running it for more than two decades and churning out champions in the sport. Having taken to the sport at the tender age of 13, Silva Storai has seen the sport grow manifold in her long and illustrious career.
In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, Silva Storai threw more light on equestrian, on how the gender divide ceases to exist in the sport and more.
Excerpts from the interview.
1. How has the journey been so far? What makes EIRS unique?
The journey at Embassy International Riding School (EIRS) has been like a roller coaster. The expansion of the facility, along with the increase in the number of riders and horses at every show, is very impressive.
What makes us unique is that as a school and as far as our multiple approaches to horse-related activities go, we have the first pony club in India where children get to ride small horses and understand how to brush them, groom and ride them.
Then, we have a casual rider activity where one can enjoy in our 240-acre campus. We also have a structural program for all - from beginners to advanced riders - on our own school horses. We also have breeding programs which have developed well and we now have new horses, which will be competing soon.
2. For starters, what is the difference between horse riding and Equestrian?
Horse-riding is an activity while equestrian is the sport. So, equestrian sport will be the end result of an activity if pursued to the commitment required.
Equestrian and the gender divide
3. The advantage of equestrian is that it is not a gender-based sport. So, how easy is it for women to take up the sport?
Equestrian is the only sport in the world where men and women compete at the same level. So, the horse is the supreme athlete and the riders need to develop the required fitness to achieve better results. Young girls take longer to achieve their strength but women tend to make a great rider, as they use their inward strength as well. It works as magic with horses.
4. There has to be a lot of communication between the rider and the horse in the sport. So, how easy or difficult is it to develop that communication?
If one can use the inner strength to communicate with a horse, these are ways to the your external strength physical strength. If you use your inner strength versus physical strength to communicate with the horse along with the body fitness and strength, that of course you need to perform to the best of the horse’s ability, you're going to get the best results and that's called horsemanship.
5. How to build a career in sports as an equestrian aspirant? How are the facilities for the sport?
Like in any other sport, you need to be serious and committed. One must also be good with their finances as well as equestrian is an expensive sport. Like all sports, excellence is achieved through trial and error. Hence, the more the better.
There are many horse riding schools that have come up in the recent past. However, at EIRS, we have a very good facility where we have people exploring new training modules and training to the maximum of their horses and their own capability and capacity.