A life of service, for the love of a horse

Dr Rakesh Pattu is a well-respected veterinarian, who I had the privilege of meeting in India. He has travelled the world looking after horses for most of his life, prompted by his love for one horse he couldn’t save…

A champion in the making

Rakesh was born in Punjab, India in 1969 into an upper middle-class family. He had a happy childhood, for the most part, spent playing sports and show-jumping.

After beginning his riding career in earnest at the age of 15, Rakesh went on to win the title of India’s National Champion in equestrian sports. No small achievement in this horse-mad country.

Rakesh had thought to follow his father into the army when he finished school. All that changed when he bought and bonded with his first horse. Royal Choice was a beautiful 16HH chestnut gelding ex-racehorse, who Rakesh would ride to school daily and spend every spare minute with.

Everything changed

One foggy winter morning, everything changed. After an early workout, Rakesh was walking Royal Choice back to his home. They had to cross a road to get home, and a truck barrelled out of nowhere and smashed into them.

Luckily for Rakesh he did not have feet in his stirrups and when the truck hit, he was flung off. Royal Choice was not so lucky. He took the full impact of the lorry. His back and legs were broken. After screaming for help, Rakesh went back to his horse and cradled his head in his lap. In those last moments he spent with Royal Choice, he vowed to serve horses for the rest of his life. Before long, the summoned vet arrived, Royal Choice was given his final injection, and Rakesh had a new purpose in life – to keep Royal Choice alive inside his heart.

A purpose in life

Rakesh Pattu

Rakesh and I in India

To this day, Rakesh blames himself for what happened and made good on his conviction to serve horses always.

He finished school and went to Delhi to study veterinary science, where he also continued his riding and swept the board of equestrian championships in India.

Once he had qualified, Rakesh moved to the United States where he worked in various positions for over 20 years, always keeping his promise to Royal Choice. He worked in both private and racing yards and spent time coaching polo teams as well.

He also worked with Monty Roberts on his farm in California where he spent a month with Monty, his trainers and students learning about natural horsemanship.

Rakesh has recently returned to India, where he now works at the prestigious Delhi Race Club. As ever, he is driven by his passion and promise always to serve the animals he loves above all others. It was truly an honour and a privilege to meet this humble man and learn about our shared love of these wonderful beasts.


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