Riding high: Meet cowgirls of Chennai police’s mounted wing

The city Police Commissioner recently rewarded five women cops attached to the mounted force.
Riding high: Meet cowgirls of Chennai police’s mounted wing


The reason: they volunteered to be part of the branch, deceiving the common notion that it is not a woman’s job. One of the horses they maintain had even won a medal at the All-India Police Equestrian meet in 2020.
Two women cops Grade I constables M Jasmine and P Suganya  have been part of the branch for more than a decade and chose to stay back even when the rotational transfers were offered after every three years. The other three R Malavika, T Punitha and C Mahalakshmi  joined a year ago and they too love what they do and have developed a bond with the horses.
There are 26 male counterparts in the branch and their duty begins as early as 4.30 am. “We take the horses by walk to the Marina for a better experience of morning walkers before returning to the branch on Adithanar Salai around 9 am. Again, the duty resumes around 4 pm at the beach, but the focus is on warning visitors not to enter the waters, reaching out to those in need of help and looking for miscreants,” says constable Malavika, a native of Tiruchy.
Malavika, an athlete, says she opted for the mounted branch as she found horse riding a sport. Constable T Punitha, also from Tiruchy, willingly shifted to the mounted force from the AR wing. However, she was scared of horses for the first three months as it was difficult for her to handle them. But now, No 20 is her favourite horse, though everyone has to practise on different horses every day. Similarly, C Mahalakshmi, despite having a horse at home, was initially scared.
After the morning patrol, all the horses that went out are given a wash by the cops who sat on them. “There are dedicated caretakers but we lend a hand to develop a connection with the horses,” says P Suganya, as she mixes fodder. A Grade I constable, Suganya has completed a decade in the mounted branch. “Equestrian is an expensive sport and as a normal citizen, I can’t imagine training in horse riding. But we do it and participate in competitions. What more can I ask for,” says Suganya, a native of Coimbatore, who came second at a dressage event at the 38th All India Mounted Force Meet in 2020.
That was the first time Tamil Nadu police participated in the mounted force meet and Suganya says the credit goes to IPS officer Shekar Deshmukh. “Sir (Shekar Deshmukh) encouraged us to give our best and it was a proud moment to win medals,” says Suganya, who is now preparing for the 39th mounted force meet later this year.
Another Grade I constable M Jasmine, who has completed 10 years in the branch, says there is a myth among women cops that they will have difficulty in getting pregnant due to horse riding. “But I got married and delivered babies while with the mounted branch,” says Jasmine.
Cavalry since 1780: 
The Chennai Cavalry was started in 1780 by the then Madras Presidency Governor William Langan for his security before it was attached to the Madras police in 1980 by then then Superintendent Walter Grant. 
There were police stations in Vepery, Flower Bazaar, Triplicane, Saidapet and Mylapore and patrol were done on horses. The separate mounted unit in Pudupet was for Armed Reserve. 
In 1926, horses were replaced by vehicles and all 41 horses were sent to the Pudupet unit where there were already 15 horses. The total strength of the mounted branch was fixed at 34, while there are 27 horses in the branch. Most of the horses are received from the Chettinad farm in Sholavaram, while one horse was procured from a military farm in Uttar Pradesh. 
All the horses are thoroughbred since they are tall and heavy and the entire branch is under supervison of Inspector M Ramadurai (headquarters), who report to Deputy Commissioner (motor vehicle section). The 25 male police personnel and five women personnel report to Sub-inspector R Gopalsamy. Apart from them, there are caretakers to wash and feed the horses. 
Food and care: 
The horses are fed four times a day such as wheat bran, horse gram, olive powder and fish oil apart from iodine and rock salt. Carrot and leaves (lucerne) are specially transported from Ooty every day. To feed a horse a day, it costs Rs 610, says SI Gopalsamy. During summer, lucerne is stopped and horses who find it difficult to breathe are kept in dedicated AC rooms for a few hours. There are five such AC rooms in the branch.

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