Golden Gallop – New Indian Express | News Bharat

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Even as the riding center was filled with the expected cheers and enthusiastic remarks and comments from the panel of judges, Samanna Everaa heard only one sound, the rhythm of her horse Soulmate’s hooves. This trained mind, born of years of practice, helped Samanna achieve a record score of 73.225 points, the highest score in India, at the World Dressage Challenge in the Junior Category (14-16 years) held in Bengaluru at the ASC Center recently . . Says Samanna, “I just turn everything off while cycling. I can only hear my horse and myself. So distractions aren’t a big deal. When I compete, I don’t mean to beat others; I’m thinking to perform better than last time. That’s why I think I gained a very healthy way of thinking during the competitions.” The teenage equestrian talks about sports, her training and her wishes for the future.

Discovering passion
Samanna discovered the joy of horseback riding 12 years ago while vacationing in Kodaikanal. “I was only three years old and I remember very well the first time I rode a horse around the lake. As soon as I got back to Chennai, I asked my mother to enroll me in horse riding lessons. At first they were hesitant, thinking I was too young and that they didn’t like the sport. After constant requests from my side, they took me to lessons and I started riding,” she says.

Samanna started professional training three years ago, and a year and a half ago she started appearing in competitions. At Chennai Equitation Center OMR, she found a trainer, mentor and friend in Isabelle Hassleder from Austria, who has been training students for 20 years. Under Isabella’s guidance, he practices dressage, which is considered the pinnacle of equestrian sport and requires the rider and horse to memorize a series of planned movements. “Samanna is an exemplary student and has always been very involved with horses and riding. He also has good balance and skill. In the beginning, training was difficult as she had to learn to handle strong, energetic and different types of horses. Step by step she became more confident, acquired more technical skills and was able to adapt to heavier horses,” says Isabelle.

All riders have a companion and last year Samanna found a friend in Soulmate. “The soulmate is from Germany and is 13 years old. He has a very interesting and charismatic character. It seems like he’s always there for me; I have a strong bond with him. I’d say he’s like my best friend,” she enthuses. Emphasizing that the most important thing in equestrian sports is the partnership between horse and rider, Isabelle compares competition to ballroom dancing. “Competition is something you can think of as ballroom dancing with a partner. If you suddenly change partners, even if you are both good dancers, you probably won’t dance well together because you won’t know each other well. Therefore, there must be a good relationship between horse and rider. The horse must be of a certain quality and the rider must have good technical knowledge,” he explains. For competitions, Isabelle trains Samanna and Soulmate to even focus on intricacies like listening to body language and breathing.

Hopes for the future
From practicing every day from 6 am, adapting to the horse’s nature, overcoming challenges to setting records, Samanna found peace and comfort in this sport. With the support of her parents and teachers, she learned to balance studies and sports. “Balancing everything is hard work, because the sport is long-term and demanding. So I try to complete my schoolwork in advance,” says Samanna, who is a Class 10 student at KC High Navalur and is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer.

Although competitions like dressage are not as popular in India as they are in Europe, Samanna wants to make her mark on the world through this sport. “The sport is gaining popularity in India after Fouaad Mirza qualified for the Olympics for the last time after 20 years. My wish in the future is definitely to compete in dressage riding at the highest level. I want to ride in the biggest dressage arena in the world. One day I want to represent India internationally on the dressage podium. I hope I can help achieve this,” she concludes.

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