Oman celebrates Royal Horse Race Festival
By staff - Sun Jan 01, 5:46 am
By Dr. Hussein Shehadeh – MUSCAT
Celebrations and trophies
Sultan Qaboos presided Monday the annual Royal Horse Race Festival at Al Adiyat Horse Race Track in the Wilayat province of Seeb.
The festival included six rounds, five of which were dedicated for Arabian pure breeds, one for Thoroughbred. At the first round, Al Wusta Governorate for Arabian pure breeds for 1,100 metres, Al Muatassim bin Said al Balushi riding the horse Al Saif of the Royal Cavalry came first, Anas bin Salim al Siyabi riding the horse Qadeer of the Royal Cavalry came second and Hosni bin Mubarka al Hajri riding the horse Mihbash of the Royal Oman Police came third.
At the second round, South Al Batinah Governorate for pure Arabian horses for 1,600 metres for the cup of the International Federation of Gentlemen & Lady Riders, which will kick-off from the Sultanate with participation of eleven countries Jona Jostavsen of the Kingdom of Sweden riding the horse Scari of the Royal Cavalry came first, Jessica Marsalis of the Republic of Italy riding the horse Al Waseef of the Royal Cavalry came second and Bert Wiper of the Republic of Germany riding the horse Tamgeed of the Royal Cavalry came third.
The Sultanate has a long history of breeding and keeping Arabian horses, and they remain an important part of Oman’s culture and heritage.
Oman with its excellent ports was also a historic location for the export of Arabian horses.
According to Royal Cavalry, for centuries Oman was a prime Arabian horse breeding centre, exporting horses to India and all over the Middle East.
Omanis feel a very strong connection with horses, viewing them with love and admiration. Arabian horses were often the main themes of Arabic literature and poems and thus horses have been the symbols of power, dignity, heroism and prestige in the Arab world.
For the past four decades, the Royal Cavalry has had a central role in the development, protection and breeding of Pure Arabian Horses.
The Arabian horse is an intrinsic part of the Sultanate’s history and culture. Oman has been doing everything to preserve them for future generations.
The Arabian horses bred in Oman have taken part with success in international races and Arabian horse shows.
In the recent years there has been a significant increase in the popularity of the Arabian horse in Oman and other parts of the world.
These achievements are a tribute to the Royal Directive of Sultan Qaboos about supporting Omani horse activities and industry. The Sultan has built several stables to house his collection of some 700 horses, over 400 of them Arabian.
The Sultan’s principal stable is Al Adiyat in Seeb, a seaside community of whitewashed houses just a few miles up the coast from the Muscat capital area. At this massive facility racehorses take cool-down gallops on the beach, and roses bloom in profusion.
Omanis take pride in their horses which symbolise the nobility and longevity of their culture.
Omanis’ love of horses can be seen in the way they deck them out: the neck ornaments, the silver bridle, the sweat cover placed on the back and the undercloth to prevent chafing, the silver collar-piece, and finally the reins. There are annual horse races at the Royal Stables, and throughout the year in the regions especially on religious and national occasions.
Besides the races the riders participate in polo matches, tent-pegging competitions, trotting races, show-jumping, dressage and carriage processions.
The Sultan pays special attention to all aspects of horse-breeding, preserving bloodlines and equestrian sports of all kinds.
A Directorate-General of the Royal Stables has been established under the Diwan of the Royal Court which supervises the breeding and rearing of horses using scientific methods in conformity with international standards.
In addition the Royal Horse Racing Club was established to oversee the planning and development of equestrian activities.
The Royal Stables possess numerous breeds of horses known for their excellence in racing, dressage, showjumping and polo, in addition to a troupe of cavalry horses.
To the causal observer, who watched this colourful and magnificent spectacle, the first thoughts would have flashed around the sheer grandeur of the event, followed by amazement at the split-second timing of jockeys during their acrobatic stunts on a swiftly-moving animal. Such awesome displays require dedication to long and hard months of practice, a love for the sport and understanding of the mount. There is a lot to be said about the organisation and coordination of such a massive exercise – it was of the first order. Full marks to the Royal Cavalry and all participants for their unforgettable performance which, we feel, was an effective way of displaying the nation’s rich historical and cultural legacy. It is worth mentioning that the Sultanate has always taken the opportunity to showcase to the world its cultural riches which have been handed down through generations, and nurtured with great care and love.
The Oman Equestrian Federation was formed in 1983 to promote equestrian events such as dressage and show jumping. The Federation organises a national show jumping competition each winter, which attracts entries from the Royal Stables, the Royal Oman Police, who operate a mounted division within the force, the Royal Guard of Oman, and private stables. The show jumping events take place at Enam Equestrian show ground in Seeb, which has been described as one of the top riding arenas in the world. In December 1991, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip participated in a horse carriage event at Enam.
Oman is keen to contribute and cooperate with regional and international horse organisations such as the World Arab Horse Organisation (WAHO) to which end, the Royal Stables ensure separate records of pedigrees are maintained for each horse. There are 52 member countries in WAHO and Oman was one of the founder members, joining in 1978. The Royal Equestrian Show is held every five years and there is an Annual Royal Meeting during which the Royal Stables competes with other horse owners in the Sultanate.