Mumbai: It’s a home away from home for horses and their grooms, which participated in the truncated polo contest, thanks to the hospitality of the Amateur Riders’ Club (ARC) at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. The championship ended prematurely, due to the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives and left lakhs hospitalised.

Foreign participants, along with the accompanying officials, boarded flights right on time, but left their horses and their grooms stranded. But the ARC, which had organised the championship, came to the rescue, playing the perfect host by provided these animals and their caregivers all the assistance they required.

Thanks is due to the teamwork of ARC members, who roughshod it, to ensure a smooth ride for the horses and grooms. The ARC chief, Shyam Mehta, agrees. “Yes, the members were motivated by their concern for these animals and their keepers,” he told The Free Press Journal on Friday.

This has been the case now for the past three weeks and with summer creeping in, Mehta is concerned about the horses and the ARC is busy drawing up its next plan of action, which is to transport them back to Jaipur and New Delhi, from where they are.

“It is a tough call, as summer has already set in and the heat could be a concern for all involved in the movement of these animals,” said Mehta. However, the ARC is working on a war footing to get the required documents to see them off.

“This will happen anytime soon (a day or two), as we have already sounded off the authorities about the paperwork,” said Mehta, as there are many restrictions because of the ongoing lockdown. However, the ARC does have genuine grounds to seek permission.

In all, there are over 200 thoroughbred horses and 125 grooms and the ARC management has housed the animals in temporary stables and is also bearing the cost of their daily essentials, all the time taking care to ensure safety and hygiene.

Food and other essentials, for both, the horses and grooms, are being delivered directly to them. Care is also being taken to ensure the daily health and hygiene regime of the equines is not disturbed because of the lockdown. Veterinary services are on call and there is a compounder on the premises to tend to the horses’ needs.

“Every resource we have has been devoted to the care of all the horses and the men. Given the current scenario, we have been maintaining the necessary safety standards and ensuring health and hygiene in and around the temporary and permanent stables.

Our horse-owners trust us with in-house and visiting horses. Initially, it was challenging to secure feed and hay for the horses, but the managing committee has organised the same,” said Mehta, an ardent lover of horses.

Digvijay Nath

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