A chemical engineer trades his laboratory for horses and boosts his career

  • A chemical engineer who took up horseback riding for relaxation outside the lab praised horses for helping him with his research projects and recommended other professionals take up the sport.

    Prabhuraj Balakrishnan used to go jogging with friends in Wythenshawe Park to relax while studying for his PhD at the University of Manchester in 2012, and when he frequently saw equestrians in the park, he decided to try a new hobby.



    “Watching people hack through the park sparked my interest in horses,” the 31-year-old doctor said. H&H.

    “I started doing hacks with Wythenshawe Park Riding Stables and that motivated me to learn more, so I started group lessons and later took private lessons.”

    Prabhuraj, who was a finalist for the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ 2020 Young Researcher of the Year award, said he soon realized horseback riding had mental benefits, as well as physical ones.

    “My research meant I was always working in labs, so I was looking for something different to do. I tried other sports, but horse riding was completely different. It builds your physical strength, but also your mental strength , because you’re dealing with a 1,000 pound animal,” he said.

    “I used to feel rejuvenated after riding and I believe relaxing on weekends with horses made me do my research well.”

    Prabhuraj continued to take weekly lessons and particularly enjoys show jumping.

    “The riding school staff are always so patient. In the beginning I was making so many mistakes and crashing a lot, and at some point I thought maybe the bike wasn’t for me, but they were always so kind and encouraging,” said he declared.

    “I would definitely recommend riding to other people who want to try it out. It’s not like other sports where there’s only one person, you’re a team with your horse and you have to build that chemistry and it’s also a good way to make new friends.

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