Nawaab: Stallion of Ahmedabad
By Gina McKnight
Photography By Uzair Kasbati, Manthan Mehta, Nrupal Mehta
The commotion in the backyard at 5 o’clock am can be heard along the streets of Ahmedabad. Nawaab, handsome five-year old black stallion of Anish Gajjar, is awake and ready for breakfast! An anxious whinny resounds as the local farmer tosses pulas of green alfalfa over the wall into Nawaab’s stable; the syce arrives to place the forage into the appropriate feeder, along with Nawaab’s daily portion of Bajra (grain).
Nawaab is comfortable amongst the sounds and hustle of city life. His stable is ideal; a large space for meandering throughout the day, a fragrant frangipani tree and a pink-flowering bougainvillea vine for daily shade. At 15.2 hands, Nawaab towers the neighborhood children who are sometimes startled by his appearance as he gazes with probing stallion eyes over his stable wall.
Sired by Suraj and dam Lakshmi of the famous Manaklao Stables located forty kilometers from Jodhpur, Nawaab mirrors his ancestral lineage with his cognitive skills and signature physique. He is the horse of legend. A gazing star on his forehead symbolizes good fortune, giving him a distinctive appearance, making him desirable amongst Marwari breeders.
Wielding a confident and graceful countenance, he is brave and loyal, embracing all the characteristics of the classic Marwari; the mount of kings and warriors, the result of centuries of natural selection, environment and geographic. “His disposition could be described as content, curious and an explorer. He's got one of the best temperaments; a little assertive, as a stallion should be, and always very friendly,” says Gajjar.
Dedication and compassion makes a true horseman, which is evident in Gajjar’s articulate training and intuitive approach. Training is in process and the bond between horse and rider has been well established. According to Gajjar, “Nawaab has been bred by a very reputed breeder, Dr. Narayansingh Manaklao, but was never trained for riding. After bringing him home, I’ve done three sessions with him and he doesn't rear anymore or show any impatient signs. I really have my hopes set on this one. Looks like he'll turn out great!”
Gajjar plans to school Nawaab in dressage, an equine ballet in which the horse’s eloquent moves are orchestrated through an unseen channel of communication between horse and rider. Rooted in military training traditions, dressage will allow Nawaab to demonstrate his nimble and adaptable qualities. Nawaab’s genetically engineered structure for intricate maneuvers, such as dressage, ensures his success as a champion.
Gajjar affectionately strokes Nawaab’s neck and tickles his ears. His great admiration for Nawaab is evident. Nawaab responds with equal affection and trust. Gaining Nawaab’s respect with strong but moderate authority establishes Gajjar’s natural leadership role. It is a magical image of connected friendship between horse and rider that has been envied throughout time.
Nawaab and Gajjar can be seen on their trek from the stable, through the city streets of Ahmedabad, to the adjacent green fields for their brisk morning ride. It is a pleasant ride, the result of expert care and training. “The gaits are soft and he's quite sure-footed. I've brought him into a well collected ride. The trot and canter are both quite soft and comfortable,” says Gajjar. When asked about Nawaab’s beauty, agility and expert performance, Gajjar states, “I don't have any magic in me; it’s just passion and hard work. Every day is a learning experience!”
Within the annals of Indian Mythology, the fascinating Marwari hold a prominent position. There is no denying that the Marwari image emits a powerful influence on equestrians around the world. The indigenous Marwari is one of India’s most precious resources; progressive, resilient and unique. Currently, due to low census, Marwari are confined to India (with very few in the U.S.A., France and Spain, which were transported there before the ban); however, as their numbers increase, the export ban may be lifted.
As an equestrian and avid horse lover, I hope to find a Marwari in my stable one day. Their versatility and etiquette would be a welcome addition to my valley. I am positive one of Nawaab’s offspring would be right at home in my peaceful Appalachia countryside.
Anish Gajjar is co-founder of the Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India
Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from USA