For Risaldar Major Hariram, the show goes on

American Economist, Bernard Baruch once said, "Age is only a number, a cipher for the records. A man can’t retire his experience. He must use it. Experience achieves more with less energy and time."

Well here is one person to prove just that.

Risaldar Major Hariram lives, breathes and sleeps horses. With 65 gold medals and uncountable silver in show jumping, Hariram retired from the Indian army in 1980. News about him spread like wild fire and the then-Maharaja of Mysore got him to Bangalore to train people at the turf club.

Risaldar Major Hariram teaches mostly at Bangalore’s Turf Club. Pic: Smit Zaveri.

24 years later, he is still the instructor at BARI riding school doing what he loves the most. "Even in BARI, when a kid’s team fell short of a player, I would be put in their place. This is how I won 7 gold medals for BARI." Recalls Hariram as he sits in his room at the turf club.

"A lot of my students have gone on to play at international tournaments. One or two of them even took part in the Sydney Olympics. Even though they didn’t win, it was a victory for me."

Hariram has trained close to 25 jockeys including the famous Y S Srinath and K P G Appu, both of whom have represented India in international tournaments. If there is one thing that made him stay here for 24 years other than his love for riding is the weather. "I love Bangalore for its weather. The season is very nice. It was even better 15 years ago. I will continue to serve here for as long as I can. Then I will go back to Haryana."

Hariram sets the national record of 7 feet 2.5 inches on ‘Leading Boy’, his favourite horse. Pic courtesy: Risaldar Hariram.

Leading Boy, the horse upon which he set the national record, will always be a special horse to him; his other favourites include Abounding, Silver Key, National Hunt and Mastana. Even though he only speaks Hindi, he still manages to be a favourite among kids.

He joined the army very early

Born in Haryana in 1934, Hariram joined the Indian army at the tender age of 17 in 1951. The Indian army didn’t just train the young combatants in warfare but also in horses. They took keen interest in sports such as polo and horse jumping. After being posted all over India, from Kashmir or Karnataka, Hariram started professional horse show jumping in the year 1958.

On 8th December, 1970, atop Leading Boy, Hariram created history. He jumped a wall of 7 feet, 2.5 inches, setting a national record in jumping that remains unbroken till date. The very next year, in a different category, he also became the international record holder with a 6 feet 7 inches jump at the red fort, Delhi. This record was broken by another Indian Army personnel only in 2004.

Going strong at 77

"There is no secret to this. Horse riding is one of the best sports and the best way to keep fit. Horse riding requires me to get up early in the morning and that is one of the best ways to remain fit. It’s a routine now. I just eat less roti’s and more ghee!" he jokes as he gets ready to train another batch of students. Stopping isn’t in his vocabulary and he doesn’t want it to ever be there either.

Shamaz, who used to be a student of Hariram and now at the age of 18 assists him in training the kids, tells us -"Horse riding is in his blood. He is very good when it comes to recognising peoples potential. He doesn’t take interest in everyone. He takes interest in people who have it in them. He might shout at you when you are on the turf but outside, he is very calm and sweet with everyone. He only wants what’s best for us."

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