Horse extravaganza!
Two weeks ago, the roll of drums and the beat of hooves greeted Sri Lanka in the first ever horse extravaganza.

Organised by the newly initiated Sri Lanka Equestrian Association and the Premadasa Riding School in collaboration with India's foremost exponent of horses - Raghuvendra Singh, the night displayed Indian, Sri Lankan and British talents on horseback.

The evening began with a march past in traditional ceremonial regalia; introducing Marwari horses - a unique breed which has made great foray for its multi faceted versatility. A crowd teaser followed with standing salutes being conducted astride galloping horses.

The riders of the Sri Lanka Equestrian Association - Suranjith Premadasa, Ranjith Dahanayake, Suresh Gunasingham, Mohan de Lanerolle (Snr), David Bolling, Gemunu Wijegunewardana, Sunil Fernando, Faizal Ghany and Mohan de Lanerolle (Jnr) illustrated the more contemporary forms of riding such as show jumping and the basic gaits.

Most items of the show are recognized to have arisen from days when men fought battles astride these magnificent beasts and tented camps were put up in battlefields. It was in such times when wars were won by the swipe of a sword and the scream of a stallion that Tent Pegging arose, which was displayed with great prowess by both the Indian and Sri Lankan teams.

An amusing facet of the evening was the resident clown Moinuddin Khan on horse back attempting various aspects of horsemanship with a comical flair. The speed and dexterity of rider and mount was displayed in the 3 in one Tent Pegging event, in which pegs were consecutively uprooted, utilizing varied war tools by both R. Singh and Moinuddin Khan.

The thunder of hooves heralded the fire arch event in which riders and mounts braved a roaring fire for the pleasure of the crowd. As night took the sky, the sound of hooves pounded to the beat of music, and a trip down memory lane was taken to a time when women dressed as queens rode as warriors.

Franscesca Kelly, author of the famed book 'Marwari' showcased the softer side of the horse in a scintillating dance, later accompanied to Egyptian drums by Asha Deewangi.

The pulsating rhythm of Rajashtan tunes heralded the arrival of Choto Khan and Thiloshini Abeysekera dancing alongside Mummal. The night ended with an awards ceremony recognizing the efforts of the participants, each astride their lustrous mounts.

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