Virat, elite horse in President's Bodyguard, retires on R-Day
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday bid farewell to Virat, a majestic horse in the elite President's Bodyguard (PBG) regiment. The horse took part in its last Republic Day parade before retiring from service. President's Bodyguard Colonel Anup Tiwari mounted on Virat during the ceremony. Here is a brief about Virat's life and service.
Virat, a Hanoverian breed horse, was reportedly issued to the PBG nearly two decades ago. He is said to be a disciplined horse, lauded for his size and built. He has reportedly participated in the Republic Day parade as many as 13 times. Further, he has escorted several former presidents as well as President Kovind in ceremonial parades.
Virat, also called the PBG's "charger," is counted among the most trusted horses during parades and events. "During the Republic Day Parade and Beating the Retreat ceremony in 2021, the horse performed exceptionally well despite his old age (sic)," an official told The Hindu. His retirement was announced by the PBG after the conclusion of the R-Day parade on Wednesday.
On the eve of the Indian Army Day on January 15, Virat was awarded the Chief of Army Staff commendation. He is the first-ever horse to receive the commendation. "From the beautiful arch of his neck right down to his graceful trot, to the wisdom in his eyes, Virat is a horse like no other," an official, who was with the PBG, had said.
The PBG is an elite and one of the oldest-serving regiments in the Indian Army. It has been active since the late 18th century. For the past several centuries, the 200 member-strong Army unit has been assigned to India's top VIPs, from British viceroys to heads of state in independent India. Personnel of the PBG are also trained as paratroopers and tankmen.