Today, it will be a week of recovery and a second chance at life for a horse named Yellow King. As he stands calmly in his stable at Matheran, munching away his oats, it is hard to believe that this horse survived a near-death ordeal by plummeting into a valley at Honeymoon Point.
Rescuers help Yellow King clamber out of the valley
This survivor belongs to a local breed of Matheran horses called Kathiawaris that are larger than ponies, though smaller than thoroughbred horses and are distinguished by their peculiarly shaped ears. Yellow King earned his livelihood, like many horses in the hill station, by giving jaunty rides to tourists.
On July 25, when the rains had made the Matheran pathways particularly treacherous, horse-groomer Pandu was trotting on Yellow King, when they turned around a bend near Honeymoon Point. Suddenly, horse and rider found themselves skidding on the slippery road and falling into a valley more than 200-feet deep.
As they hurtled down, Pandu managed to jump off the horse and hold on to a tree just a few feet below. Yellow King unfortunately found no such prop for support and slipped all the way down, right to the bottom, landing close to a waterfall.
Hemant Biramne, owner of Yellow King, says, "Pandu managed to clamber out of the valley, holding on to the trees and rocks. It was late evening when he called me, telling me about the horse. I rushed to the spot and though we could locate Yellow King, night was falling fast. We decided to leave him there till the next morning."
Survivor: After a fall, Yellow King, lives to ride another day
Early on Sunday morning, Biramne returned to the spot armed with 50 helpers and heavy ropes. Some men descended into the gorge. Biramne recalls, "We had decided to put down the horse down in case he was in great pain or had fractured his legs. My heart felt heavy as lead."
To Biramne's surprise and relief, Yellow King survived the fall, safe. Ropes were put around him and the stallion was pulled out. It did not look like he had a suffered even a single fracture.
Elation and admiration greeted the horse. "I was amazed by his will to live. That is what kept him alive, it was an indomitable spirit," says Biramne. Once out of the ravine, Yellow King was taken back to the stable and administered painkillers and saline.
Adil Gandhy, Chairperson of the Apprentice Jockeys School in Mumbai, sayd, "It's surprising to see a horse survive such a fall. Either it would have ended up dead or have been so severely injured that it would have to be put down. I have advised the Biramnes to rename their horse to Miracle King." It is a suggestion that brothers Hemant and Ravi Biramne can't say 'neigh' to.