Equestrian-Agarwalla, Vora is pleased to add a new chapter to Indian horsemanship

BENGALURU: When Anush Agarwalla moved from India to Germany in 2017 to further his equestrian ambitions, little did he expect to become the first male athlete in five years to represent the country at the World Dressage Championships.

The 23-year-old, who comes from the East Indian city of Calcutta, realized his dream this month in Herning, Denmark, and led the Oldenburg gelding Sir Caramello OLD to a respectable score of 66.832.

Alongside him, Shruti Vora made history as the first Indian woman to compete at the World Dressage Championships when the 51-year-old rode Danish Warmblood Denightron with a score of 64.534.

“It was a great feeling. I used to watch people on YouTube and at live competitions at World Championships, Asian Games and Olympics,” Agarwalla, who started training in dressage five years ago, told Reuters.

“I always said to myself, ‘One day I want to be there’. I always thought, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do one day’ and then really go there and be the first Indian and the youngest driver of the year It was huge.

“Those are the moments you live for… moments when you know you’ve worked hard, been focused and determined. I really enjoy that.”


Agarwalla was introduced to horse riding at the age of three and moved his base to New Delhi as a teenager but realized he needed better facilities, events and trainers to improve his level in the sport.

After being turned down by several coaches, Agarwalla contacted Olympic champion Hubertus Schmidt, who invited him to Germany for trial training and accepted him as a student despite his lack of experience.

“I dropped out of school and joined the National Institute of Open Schooling and studied online. I used to fly home for exams,” said Agarwalla, who is now studying at the University of Paderborn.

“It was a big step… It’s not common. My parents gave me great support. Certainly it takes a lot of courage on my part, but I think it takes more courage on their part.”

Agarwalla hopes to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics and emulate Fouaad Mirza, who became India’s first equestrian at the Olympics in 20 years when he competed in Tokyo last year.


Vora said she was delighted to be making a mark for India, where equestrian sport is in its infancy, with the country’s greatest international achievements coming only at the Asian Games, where they have won 12 medals.

“It’s a matter of pride that we can have representation from India in a technical event like dressage,” said Vora, who took a 14-year hiatus to raise her two children before returning to competition in 2010.

“Dressage is probably the most technical event… so the fact that two people qualified for the first time is great for the sport.

“This is good for the younger generation of enthusiastic drivers who can probably benefit from it.”