Srinagar, Aug 02:Inspired by Turkish television series “Ertugrul”, 34-year-old Ali Abbas opens Valley's first horse riding school in central Kashmir's Budgam district.
The “Fazlullah Royal Stables and Riding School” is the first of its kind that aims to train people interested in equestrian sports.
Abbas, who is himself a horse rider, said though he always wanted to start a horse riding school it was the Ertugrul television series that acted as a trigger for him to start the initiative.
“After the drama became popular in the valley, many people approached me to learn horse riding. So I thought this was the right time to realize my dream,” Abbas said.
Ertugrul is a Turkish television series that is set in the 13th century and is based on the life of Ertugrul, the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire.
Abbas said that he currently has 12 horses (eight for riding) and two trainers and two helpers. The horses bought from Punjab are of Marwari, Sindhi varieties and thoroughbreds.
Abbas said that at present his trainers teach around 45 people in the school.
“I have received the applications of more than 150 people. But I am still working on infrastructure like building proper tracks etc,” he said.
Abbas said that he was overwhelmed by the response and support from the people across the valley.
“Initially, I thought I will be criticized for introducing horse riding in the society. But to my surprise many Imams (priests) approached me to learn the horse riding as it is a Sunnah (traditions and practices Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)),” Abbas said.
Abbas said that he has kept a separate class and a girl instructor for females to learn horse riding in the school.
“We have a separate time slot for girls, so they are comfortable in learning the art,” he said.
Abbas said he has tried to charge a minimal fee so that all walks of life can learn horse riding.
“The admission fee is Rs 1000. For a 15 day course the fee is Rs 2500, for a month it is Rs 4000. Similarly, for two months, the fee is Rs 6000, for six months it is Rs 12,000 and the yearly membership fee is Rs 24000,” he said.
Horse riding is not uncommon in Kashmir. Many tourists and locals could be seen enjoying the ride in tourist places like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonmarg.
Abbas said that apart from teaching horse riding, he will soon also start to teach the game of Polo and all the other equestrian sports.
“I am in touch with the Polo Association of India. If all goes well, in winters I am planning to start Polo classes. The trainees can also participate in tournaments organized outside the Valley,” he said.