In the famous 19th century novel ‘Black Beauty’ by Englishwoman Anna Sewell, the protagonist was a horse telling her life story in Victorian England.

But, that was imagination because, in reality, the relationship between a human and animal is a complex one, says Major Ashish Malik, the captain of the Indian Equestrian team, which won silver in the eventing category at the recently-concluded Asian Games.

“You need to understand your horse well. It cannot express its feelings. There are days when it will be cranky, may be sad and doesn’t co-operate. You need to have that understanding of your horse’s feeling,” Malik said.

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“The relationship between a horse and human is like two bodies and one soul. You can’t succeed if that connection is not there,” Major said, during an interaction on the sidelines of Indian Army’s felicitation function for its Asiad medallists.

Major Malik rode German horse Seigner Medicot, while the other horse was of Swiss breed Frimeur Du Record. “My horse is a German one, while Fouad (Mirza) rode Frimeur du Record. Sepoy Rakesh Kumar’s horse was an Anglo Arabic one, while Sepoy Jitender Singh rode French horse Veni Vidi Vici,” Major Malik said.

He also spoke about the role of a good handler — one who takes care of horse’s daily needs. “We were lucky that we had very good handlers for all the horses. They are the ones who get the horses competition ready. They know the courses well and can also offer good tips to the riders,” he added.

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Major Malik didn’t forget to thank Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) top boss Jeetu Virwani for his support. “The Indian Army has supported me a lot, but I must thank Jeetu Virwani as he sponsored our training programme in France for eight months. During the tense period, his support meant a lot,” said the 29-year-old from Haryana.

Asked about his love for horse riding, Malik recollected his days in Rashtriya Indian Military College (Dehradun). “At RIMC, we had the facility of horse riding and that’s where my interest grew and it’s now my passion. My first competitive event was 2006 Junior National Equestrian Championship. But, this Asian Games is my first major international success,” said Major Malik.

While he has not been a part of any major combat operation as a soldier, Major Malik has been on field postings in Manipur.

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“It was a great experience being posted in Manipur. I have been a part of long-range patrol for seven days. The biggest challenge would be that you are leading a patrol team in a jungle area which is also hilly. But yes, I have not been a part of any combat operations,” Major Malik said.

Currently, he is posted in Meerut where he will resume his training. “Due to security protocol, I won’t be able to tell you the exact location of my posting, but this time it’s not a field posting. I will be training in Meerut,” he said.

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, who felicitated them, said that 61st Cavalry has been entrusted with the duty of buying quality foreign horses so that the Army riders can get quality training in India.