It’s well known that a dog is man’s best friend but in the case of equestrian Ashish Limaye, his two horses — Willy be Dun and Dinard Peguignon — make wonderful companions.
Limaye, 30, has qualified for the upcoming Asian Games 2022 with the help of his two teammates-cum-friends, and will be flying to Hangzhou, China to participate in the equestrian event where he will be competing at both individual as well as team level in the eventing discipline.
He achieved a rare feat to meet the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) for an individual entry on two horses — Willy, aged 11 and Dinard, 10.
The bond and understanding between the trio have been a major reason for Limaye’s entry into the marquee event. “I’m really close to them. There’s been a lot of time where I’ve just spent with only two of them,” Limaye told Sportstar in an interaction.
The equestrian opined that constant travelling and companionship helped Willy and Dinard bond better which resulted in the horses becoming best friends.
The first horse ride
For Limaye, the love for horses began early in his childhood when he used to see them at the Tongawala’s stand, which was close to his house in Pune.
“I used to look at the horses and would tell my parents that I want to ride, let’s go to this place. Earlier they always said no it’s not possible, you are too young for this,” Limaye said.
It was not until one summer where Limaye finally convinced his parents to let him ride a horse and there was no going back from there.
He soon began training under retired Col. G.M. Khan, who won a gold medal at 1982 Asian Games in equestrian.
Limaye took a break from the sport to pursue a career in engineering. However, his love for horses couldn’t hold him back as he once again began horse riding.
He opened a small club, began training children at the Embassy International Riding School, who sponsor him, before being sent to Germany for training. The many years of being around with the horses during and after the training sessions have helped Limaye develop a special bond with them and understand their needs.
“Even if they can’t speak to you, there are a lot of things they do or you read their eyes as well,” Limaye said.
“For example with Will, if he wants to get pampered, he will come and start scratching you and won’t stop until you pamper him.”
This has also helped him in making day-to-day plans according to their moods and how the horses are feeling.
“Depending on the day, sometimes they feel low, so you back off on it and the next day you ask for a little bit more. It depends day to day on how they are feeling and how you are feeling,” he explained.
With the Asiads fast approaching, Limaye is yet to decide which of the two he will be taking with him to Hangzhou.
According to him, Dinard is best in Dressage — the first event on day 1 —, a must to get an early lead in the three-day event. Willy, on the other hand, is consistent but not as good as his teammate on the first day.
“I want to wait till the last minute to pick and see which one is doing better,” he said.
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