He was not even a year old when we welcomed him in our lives & our family. I still remember that day 13 years ago, when we got him to Mumbai. It was a long, tiring journey of about 12-13 hours by road. Not an easy one, but to be honest, the wait was totally worth it when we saw him for the first time in front of our eyes.
Majestic, huge, royal, big hazelnut brown eyes (bigger than I’d seen on any animal before), a beautiful brown & white colored coat that was shining brighter than a diamond would under the afternoon sun. His mane was as beautiful as a windy field and his tail was like a perfect high-rise ponytail every hairstylist would dream to achieve!
The day he arrived, he was as alert as a soldier on duty at the border. Neck high, as if he was proud of himself that no one around him looked as gorgeous as him. The fact every other person there had gathered around to look at him & adore him, probably made him a bit vain but also gave him the confidence that he was already the best here, among the rest of the plebeian horses.
Since every single person there fell in love with him (that too, at first sight), it was quite obvious- we had to name him Romeo.
Romeo was definitely not an easy horse. The initial days were as scary as they were exciting. We had his stable decorated and ready even before the day he was born- he was our baby, we felt (a really large one, but a baby nevertheless). But he had a crazy trick or two up his sleeve, the troublemaker he was.
The night he arrived, I remember getting a call from the security person, saying Romeo had escaped out of the stable and was running around at the club, making all the other horses hyper as well. A freedom fighter chasing mutiny, it seemed. We rushed to the stables to try to deal with this, finding out this had never happened before with any other horse. Poor Romeo had to be temporarily shackled down with strings and we had to shut any space there he could use to plan his next escape attempt!
Fun fact: My brother and I engage in horse riding at the Mahalakshmi Racecourse in Mumbai. My family has always been very passionate about animals and made sure it was passed on to us as well. So being around animals since childhood has made us natural animal lovers. Dogs, cats, turtles, fish, sheep, horses, dinosaurs, unicorns. Whatever you can think of- we probably love! Anyway, let me not get lost.
As graceful as it seems, horse riding is not an easy sport at all. I’m talking with experience here- and especially when you have a horse like Romeo! He left no stone unturned to prove this point any better. He was untrained, had no clue about where he had been brought, unaware about how to interact with humans, how to trot smartly (proceed at a pace faster than a walk, lifting each diagonal pair of legs alternately) or how to let us get on top of (mount) him. And his shenanigans soon made him notorious as the most mischievous horse at Race Course!
So, the first year with Romeo was not easy. Nor was the second or the third, for that matter. It took me 3-4 bad major falls & 6-7 minor falls to finally understand him and how to work with him towards him becoming a better horse and me becoming a better horse rider. I can never forget that second fall when I badly hurt my head and shoulder, needing to be rushed to the hospital. It was a very shocking fall for me.
I had been taught how to try to fall in a certain way when things go wrong to avoid injuring myself, but all theory goes for a toss when you’re on the horse and within a second you’re down and everything has blacked out. I was so heartbroken & scared to go back and ride Romeo. I still remember my dad encouraging me once again and telling me how I would never learn anything if I gave up every time I had a fall or failed. Falls and failure are a part of the process and not in my control, he said. But being patient and not giving up, learning from those mistakes and coming out stronger from it is totally and only in my control. An important lesson I understood years later.
The coming years with Romeo were finally getting better. Both of us started bonding a lot more than expected. He no longer tried to break the doors and escape. He was happy in his own space, his cute stable. I worked hard and made sure I learnt every single thing I could about a horse, his temperament, his actions & reactions. Especially because now I accepted that he was my own responsibility.
I started to understand that every new thing you try, needs commitment, time and patience. Falls, failures, happy moments, achievements, love, understanding, making him feel safe with me, understanding his actions, what he likes, dislikes, what he was scared of- this was a long, winding & continuous journey that fortunately we are still enjoying together.
Carrots, biscuits & sugar cubes have been permanent items in my bag now since they are his favourites. The bullheadedness he shows me on some days is nothing at all compared to the love and bond he shares with me at the end of the day.
Unknowingly, Romeo taught me many important life lessons. How to be patient, that nothing is perfect from the start, that resilience is something that keeps taking you closer to your goal even if slowly, that you need to put in effort to achieve anything and that good things take time.
Romeo is my best friend now*. From enjoying a peaceful evening together to riding along with other horses, Dusshera pooja or even participating in a fancy dress competition (that he hates), we have done it all as a team- and loved it.
I didn’t realize this at first, but having joined DSP Mutual Fund a few years ago, I couldn’t help but marvel at how this journey with Romeo has also taught me the basic principles of how to invest better.
Investing is not easy and nor is the journey to earn big returns. Taking the first step and more importantly the right step is just the beginning of a very interesting journey that is likely to be filled with ups and downs. The market will throw challenges at you, test your patience, play with your emotions, hurt you many times too, just like Romeo (the horse, as well as that annoying boyfriend.)
There will be times when you will feel like giving up and stopping. But remember, failure is a part of the journey, as long as You don’t let it become the end. You know you’re stronger than this, you know you can be patient, you know that being sensible and never accepting the idea of giving up is important. If nothing else, learn this from my little story about Romeo.
I’ll close with some words of Winston Churchill that I love now: “Don't give your son money; as far as you can afford it, give him horses. No one ever came to grief through riding horses. No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle. Young men have often been ruined through backing horses, but never through riding horses.”
PS: Romeo would love to meet you, now that you know so much about him 😊
PPS: Do not forget to carry some carrots or sugar cubes with you when you meet him!
*Don’t ever mention this to Coco, my beautiful Indie dog. She’s taught me a lot too, but that’s a story for another day.
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