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Col. Fuangvich Aniruth-Deva, who finished fifth in the CCI1* competition at the 2017 FEI Asian Eventing Championship in December at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya, has played a crucial role in inspiring the rise in popularity of equestrian sport in his native Thailand.
The retired Colonel of the Thai Royal Horse Guard trains regularly with Maxime Livio at Ecurie Livio Stable in Saumur, France, and he is also the Vice President – Technical of the Thailand Equestrian Federation.
We caught up with him to find out more about the development of equestrian sport in Thailand and his own love for horses…
FA-D: “A normal day means riding four or five horses in the morning or training or coaching, having a meeting at midday and more riding, training and coaching in the afternoon.
If I am out of the country, I could be judging or officiating in international Eventing, Dressage or Jumping. My duties also involve being with HRH at official functions and equestrian activities in and out of Thailand.”
FA-D: “I have several horses in equestrian sports, particularly Maximus, my old retired eventing horse; I am also responsible for HRH Princess Sirivannavari’s horses – Goemar, a Jumping horse who I actively compete in 130cm classes and now moving to 140cm classes, and Bingo S, an Eventing horse actively competing in 1* and 2* classes.
"I have been with these horses since they were between two and four years old and have been riding and competing them actively up to now.”
FA-D: “I grew up with horses and equestrian sport as my late father General Deva was involved with horses in Thailand. He was one of the main group of people who initiated the formation of the equestrian federation here in Thailand.”
FA-D: “My main inspiration, and the moment that really sparked my passion for equestrian sport, was when I was given a scholarship sponsored by HRH Queen Elizabeth II – the Long Equitation Course in the British Army at Melton Mowbray. After that, I was attached to the Household Cavalry Regiment in London.
“Equestrianism is not only about being into horse sport or being a rider and winning competitions.
Equestrianism is about having a passion for it, loving horses and putting in the effort not only to train for yourself to be better, but working together with your horse and putting its welfare ahead of personal gain or glory.”
FA-D: “Aside from winning a gold medal at the 13th Asian Games for Team Eventing, bronze for Individual Eventing and the gold in Team Dressage and Bronze in Individual at the 18th SEA Games, my proudest achievement – which is still an ongoing endeavour – is the development of equestrian sport in Thailand and the Army Ceremony on Horseback.
This is my way of paying back for everything that my country, the Kingdom of Thailand, has given me, and is still giving me.”
FA-D: “The biggest challenge I have, and still need to overcome, is the involvement of politics in equestrian sport.
If we only focus more on the sport, rather than the political side of it, then it will be more beneficial to everybody, more transparent and it will grow rapidly and develop.”
FA-D: “The horse is our companion, our friend, our partner and a part of our family. Horses are not our tools; they are not machines. They are living beings who need to be treated kindly and be respected equally.”
FA-D: “To firmly put Thailand on the equestrian world map. It is a huge and difficult undertaking, but I, the Thailand Equestrian Federation and the rest of our equestrian team and community here in Thailand, are doing our best to make it a reality.”
Keep up with equestrian events from around the world on FEI.org, and watch live action from the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ throughout 2018 on FEI TV.
Text by Rory Squires
Images by Yong Teck Lim