This week, we met up with Julian L. (’25), who joined ISKL in Grade 5 and has been at ISKL for four years.
Julian was featured in the Royal Selangor Polo Club (RSPC) magazine last year for his polo pursuits. He has been playing polo since August 2020 and joined the KL Academy of Polo as a working student in exchange for polo lessons, scoring three goals at his polo debut earlier in March.
In his free time, he also loves to play sports, mainly playing soccer and basketball, and enjoys trying new activities like theatre, musicals, and having fun with his friends.
Here is his story.
“Towards the end of summer 2020, ISKL ended the school year in online mode due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I could not participate in sports or activities, as Malaysia was pretty much in “lockdown” mode. However, one of the few activities that I was able to join in was riding horses!
‘Since I didn’t enjoy being stuck at home, I started spending more and more time at the RSPC, which, as it happens, is right next to the school and super convenient for me to walk independently from my house. At that time, I had only one or two lessons per week but spent a lot of time around the stables just grooming and being around horses, which I find very peaceful and calming.
Eventually, Mr. Peter Abisheganaden, the Managing Director and Chief Riding Instructor of KL Academy of Polo (KLAP), noticed I was keen on horses and offered me the opportunity to intern for the summer.
‘When I started working at KLAP as an intern, I learned how to take care of the horses, by taking on tasks such as grooming, mucking, tacking, feeding, and maintaining the riding equipment. Then I was taught how to exercise the horses, basically learning how to plan workouts and ride them usually in the morning and afternoon to stay fit.
‘In exchange for all the work I was doing, Mr. Abisheganaden offered me polo lessons in return. This was probably my most challenging learning experience! First, I learned how to ride for polo, which differs from riding for jumping or dressage. Then, I had to learn how to hit with a mallet on a wooden horse, and eventually, I worked my way up to the real thing – hitting a small white ball on a galloping horse with a bamboo stick (called a mallet). Eventually, I passed all my written and practical polo tests, and was officially a certified polo player!
‘None of this would have been possible without the opportunities Mr. Abisheganaden gave me. He is such a great coach, with
many years of top-level experience in equestrian disciplines. I didn’t realize until later that he has won multiple gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG), show jumped at World Cup level for many years, and was a 12-time South East Asian champion rider in three Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) disciplines! Plus, he knows everyone at the club. This summer, through his connections, I was able to get another internship at a polo farm in Spain!
‘It was indeed an honor to be featured in the magazine and to be recognized among so many outstanding horse riders was incredible – it made my grandmas super proud!”
Advice on playing polo
“I love that polo is a team sport that involves horses that are such amazing animals. I look forward to traveling to other countries, especially Argentina, the home of polo, and continuing to learn and grow as a horseman.’
‘My advice to ISKL students who are interested in doing polo is to give riding lessons or polo a try. I don’t know of any other school in the world where horse riding is as convenient as it is here at ISKL. The horses are situated next to the school, and if you look closely from many spots in ISKL, you can see the beautiful green field and horses running around there. Plus, with the current restrictions for activities and sports in school, students can enjoy something active and outdoors.
‘First of all, I would like to say that you will need to be a confident rider to start playing polo. Usually, you join the RSPC riding school and learn the basics of riding to get secure and comfortable on a horse. Here you will learn how to play polo if you desire or learn how to jump if you don’t feel that polo is for you. Once you begin with polo, you will also need to understand the rules and pass your polo test, which takes some studying and practice.”
Memories of Malaysia Week
“My best memory at ISKL is when I went on my first and only Malaysia Week trip in Grade 6 to Ulu Perak. It was one of the most incredible experiences in my whole life, and it is something I will never forget! It was one of the more rustic adventures I’ve had in Malaysia, but that made it even better.
‘We would white water raft down the river for most of the day, and in the afternoon, we would camp beside the river. Once we were done rafting, we would usually eat and then play in the river. We were basically in the river the whole day, and it was enjoyable swimming, wrestling, and racing with each other while at night, we would sleep on mats on the floor. There were some crazy stories, and even though no one got that much sleep, the stories we had to tell were terrific.
‘The food was just incredible! Every day we would have cooks follow us down the river, and whatever they cooked was delicious. If it was nasi lemak or chicken curry, most people were excited to start and finish the day having that. Even if all the activities were not there, I would still go again just for the food!
‘Another memory I have about the Malaysia Week trip was the teachers. They were so fun yet handled us crazy kids so well. A big shout out to Mr. Everette Burk, Mr. Matthew Durham, and Ms. Trina Cobbledick for such a fantastic trip!”
Thoughts about the Future
“Honestly, at the moment I don’t have anything specific in mind careerwise. I think I want to be around horses; however, I still don’t know what that will look like specifically in the future. I am excited about all the possibilities!
‘I think my biggest inspiration is Monty Roberts, who is a real-life horse whisperer and such an incredible horseman. He can communicate with horses as if he speaks their language, all based on being gentle and understanding instead of using force. He can take wild horses, and by the time you blink, the horse will be following him around like a willing partner. Even though he is in his late eighties, he continues to work with horses, and there is so much I can still learn from him.”
What does “Be All You Are” mean to you?
“‘Be All You Are’ means to strive to be the most extraordinary person you can be, and there will, of course, be setbacks and challenges, but you must persevere.
‘Some of that also connects to first finding who you are and who you want to be and then finding what you want to do with yourself.”
Do you know a student, faculty, staff, or alumni with a story to tell? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.