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Riding high: Tamil Nadu’s police’s first equestrian team wins medals at All-India meet

The team, led by deputy commissioner Shekhar Deshmukh, also has a woman police constable as one of its members

Wearing breeches, a spotless white shirt and a riding helmet, 34-year-old police constable P. Suganya shifts slightly on her saddle. Taking the cue, her eight-year-old horse, Grand Celebrations, begins trotting. This is part of her daily practice routine at the premises of the Chennai police Mounted Branch in Pudupet, during which she and the animal perform various moves.

Ms. Suganya is the lone woman member of the first equestrian team of the Tamil Nadu police, formed a year ago. The eight- member team also includes police personnel — constables Venkatesan, R. Manikandan, S. Mageswaran, S. Velu, R. Sultan Jalaludeen and G. Thathappa Bhaskar — and is headed by Shekhar Deshmukh, deputy commissioner of police.

Suganya, the lone woman in TN Police equestrian team

 

The team took part in the 38th All India Police Equestrian Championship and Mounted Police Duty Meet held in Haryana in February for the first time, and won three medals. While Mr. Deshmukh won gold, Suganya bagged silver and the team got a bronze medal.

“I joined the Mounted Branch directly 10 years ago. Earlier, our exposure was only to beach patrolling during which we have nabbed some criminals. But equestrian training is completely different. We have never done jumps earlier, but now we are practising them. The handling of the horse itself is different,” explains Ms. Suganya, who says the team considers the horses their good friends.

Every morning the team feeds the horses and practises for close to an hour. “The police meet was intimidating and this is the first time the Tamil Nadu police is participating in such an event. But I am sure from next year we will fetch more medals,” she says.

 

The team was created by Mr. Shekhar Deshmukh when he came to Chennai as aide-de-camp to the Governor. “I started riding during my police academy days. When I came here, I went and requested city police commissioner A.K. Viswanathan if I could started a equestrian team here as the Mounted Branch has been in operation in the city since the British period. He immediately agreed,” he says.

Mr. Deshmukh then selected the best of riders from the Mounted Branch and started training them. “Initially we trained ourselves, and then we started getting trainers from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the National Police Academy. We also started taking part in championships within the State,” he adds.

Mr. Deshmukh explains that Ms. Suganya was the only woman to take part in the one-day eventing category (comprising events such as dressage, show jumping and cross country) in the All India Police Equestrian Championship.

“Our team was appreciated as we put up a good show despite competing for the first time. K Rajagopal, Assistant Commissioner, Mounted Branch, ensured the safe transportation of the horses on the train and by road,” he explains.

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