For today’s Equestrian Lives in Lockdown we head to India with Manjeev and Charlotte.

We are a natural horsemanship and polo centre located in Gurgaon, India (very close to the capital city of New Delhi). We have 9 horses, most of which were rescued/adopted along the way. We have several Marwari horses, a breed indigenous to India and very recognisable for its curly ears.

Manjeev is an officially certified Monty Roberts instructor and has spent some time in the US working with wild mustangs. We have set up our centre 3 years ago with the idea of offering an alternative to some of the rather harsh training methods currently in use here. It was important for us to integrate natural horsemanship methods in the mainstream, notably for polo and the racing industry. As such, Manjeev works with stud farms to prepare horses for the track, and we are also training our own horses for polo.

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Manjeev and Charlotte. Photo credit: Delhi College of Photography

How strict your lockdown has been? Are you able to leave the premises? Are people still allowed to come to the stables? 

The situation is a little complicated in India because each state has been doing their own thing and, on top of that, the government has empowered local condominiums / societies to implement their own lockdown. We live in one such condominium and we were so worried we would not to be able to leave (which has happened to many of our friends in neighbouring condominiums) that we decided to move to the farm where we have our horses. For us, it was unthinkable not to be able to check on the horses (and our 8 rescue dogs and 4 cats who are also on the farm). We’ve converted one of the store rooms into a bedroom and made a makeshift shower. It’s actually quite fun.

We have currently no clients coming, and we are not able to visit any clients either. This has been the case for over a month now.

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Photo credit: The Delhi College of Photography

How has it affected the care of the horses? 

It was initially difficult to get good hay for the horses but we’ve managed to sort this out. There is a lot of demand so contacts and relationships are very important in such situations. We’re also having issues getting a farrier, as our usual guy lives far away. We’ve made do with what we have available around. We have always tried to give our horses the best care, often with the help of professionals that live in different states and who cannot come, so we’ve just had to downgrade what we use at the moment. But it’s manageable.

We’ve put the horses on rest. We thought it would be a good opportunity to let them recover from the busy season we’ve just had. Also, it’s the start of summer and the temperatures are soaring.

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Photo credit: The Delhi College of Photography.

How has it affected your business? 

We had several volunteers, and courses that had to be cancelled, or at least postponed until further notice. Basically, our business has come to a standstill, which is a disaster. We reacted fast, however, and have been offering online natural horsemanship lessons. We’ve also set up a Patreon account to give people a better insight into the situation here, as well as general insight into running this kind of horse business out of India. You can check out our first “episode” it’s free for all here (scroll all the way to the bottom).

What have been your feelings throughout lockdown? 

When they first talked about a lockdown, it was very difficult to believe it could ever happen in India. It is astonishing that life has literally come to a standstill. We live in a country with some very, very poor people so it’s particularly complicated. The way we see it, life is much more important than the economy. But for some people here, they can’t eat if they can’t work. So we’ve been having a lot of mixed feelings, on the one hand hoping that the lockdown measures will last long enough to avert a disaster while at the same time doubting it is possible.

For us, we are grateful with what we have. We wake up every morning next to our horses and this is a very special feeling.

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Photo credit: The Delhi College of Photography.
What do things look like in the future where you are? No one knows what’s going to happen. From what I’ve seen, people around here are not scared so my guess is that business will resume as normal if the measures ease. But then we’re likely to have a much bigger outbreak. On the other hand, some people have told us that the lockdown is likely to continue for several months… We don’t know. It’s almost impossible to make plans and there is a limit to the amount of business you can get online, when you have a horse centre. There are a few tiny riding areas in the countryside near us, and without riders they can’t feed their horses. It’s extremely sad.We’ve been very lucky to have the support of our community. If you happen to be stuck at home, with your usual income unaffected, I would really urge you to look into ways of supporting your local stables etc. It literally makes the world of a difference for us, our horses and all those who depend on them.You can follow us and our crazy pack on Instagram @naturalhorsemanshipindia

Other blogs that may interest you…Equestrian Lives in Lockdown: Helen in Dubai.

The Evie Toombes Foundation.

Guest blog: How Horses Helped me Get over my Eating Disorder

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