Muslim University Riding Club
The Aligarh Muslim University traces its history to the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which was founded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan at Aligarh in 1877and to which the charter of the University was given in 1920. The forty-five years between 1875 and 1920 saw the flowering of an academic society which brought an important section of Indian people into direct contact with European civilization and culture. This meant not only the introduction of modern sciences but also modern sports in the college. Hockey, Football, Cricket and Tennis were the earliest games brought in by the Europeans. Riding was already a well-established Indian sports which was incorporated in the residential life of the college. AMU since its inception has a rich tradition of sport culture. Mushtaq Ali and Lala Amarnath in Cricket, Shakoor in Hockey, Ghaus Mohammad in Tennis, Nawab Hameedullah Khan in polo are the names which shall always be remembered in India and abroad.
Horse Riding became popular in the M.A.O College because it was not only a favorite past time of students, many of whom came from aristocratic families. Principals of colleges would take rounds on horse-back.
On the occasion of the Aligarh Exhibition in 1887, students had participated for the first time in annual horse race, with horses borrowed from the local landlords. The first prize was won by Mr. Beek¯s pony, jockeyed by a student, Abdul Tahir.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan asked some landlords to send their horses to the college with the grooms so that not only their wards but some other students could also be taught horsemanship. The proposal was accepted and horse riding started in 1889.
The foundation of the M.U. Riding Club was laid by Nawab Mohd. Ismail Khan Sherwani when he presented four horses. Among others who gifted in the initial days were the Nawab of Chattari, Nawab Faiyyaz Ali Khan of Pahasu and the Estate of Bhikampur. Mr. J.H. Toe, Sir Ross Masood, Janab Agha Khan and Nawab Muzammil-ullah Khan also helped financially.
A riding school was founded in 1893 at the suggestion of Prof. Morrison. Among its first members were Dr. Sheikh Abdullah, the founder of the Women¯s College and Dr. Sir Ziauddin Ahmad who later became the famous Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University.
There were two main functions of the members of the riding club. One was to learn horsemanship and the other was to provide Guards of Honours to the dignitaries who visited the MAO College and later A.M.U Major Dann supervised the riding school in 1924. There were seven horses, two of which were presented by Nawab Habib-ullah Khan and one by Nawab Muzammil-ullah Khan. The number of horses became fourteen in the year 1926 and the old khaki uniform was replaced by dark green Turkish coats and white breeches. On the occasion of jubilee celebrations, Malik Hameed-ullah Khan made a gift of four horses to the riding school. In the same year, five horsemen of the riding school entered the race during Aligarh Exhibition.
In spite of many difficulties, the traditions of horsemanship continued after independence. The main difficulty was the prejudice that riding is a luxury and legacy of the past which new India cannot afford. However, Dr. Zakir Hussain, the then Vice-Chancellor of the University stood firm and did not allow any disruption in the continuity of the tradition.
The Aligarh Muslim University Riding Club became a distinct feature for pride and glory for the University. An army like discipline and the rich traditions of the riding club are still well known. The special powers of the Captain in all matters of discipline and proper functioning have never been sidelined. It is no wonder that one Vice-Chancellor of this University was s impressed with the club¯s discipline that he wished every student of the University to be a member of A.M.U Riding Club to learn discipline.
The members of the club have given a good account of themselves whenever they have participated in Nationals and State events. One of the distinguishing achievements of the club was the 1974 All India Team tent-Pegging Championship Award won by MURC led by Captain Khushnood Ali Khan.
The members of the riding club have not looked back ever since. They have now come to occupy an honorable place in Indian Horsemanship.