Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship

Richard took me to the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship last weekend.  This is said to be the largest gathering of Arabian horses in the world.

I read about this event some months ago, and had pencilled it into our diaries with anticipation.  The whole thing was a fascinating insight into the sporting passions of the Arab world.  But nothing prepared me for the horses themselves. They were so ridiculously magnificent some of them didn’t look real!

You know those corny paintings of white horses galloping through the waves with their manes and tails blowing in the wind?  I always thought they were fantasy versions of horses, perhaps a few steps away from unicorns. But Arabians actually do look like those white horse paintings. And they move like that too. .. knees high up in the air, tossing their heads and necks, and holding their tails up so they look like waterfalls.

It’s one of those things I will remember forever.

Particularly the first horse I saw.

When we arrived I saw my first horse of the day standing next to the fence in the holding pen next to the exhibition ring.  His head was held up and his ears were forward. I grabbed Richard by the arm and said, “Oh my god.  That horse has the most beautiful head I have ever seen in my life!’

Royal ColoursRoyal Colours

At first I wondered if I was so struck by him because he was the first Arabian I had seen in real life.

Afterwards, we sat by the ring and watched the different categories of Stallions compete. They were all truly incredible.

Then the first horse came out in the 6-8 year old category and I learned his name was Royal Colours. I was very excited when he won his section against the most beautiful Arabian stallions inthe world.

I was even happier at the end of the day when he was awarded the prize for the horse with the most beautiful head in the entire show (fillies, mares, colts and stallions).

As you can imagine I am kind of stuck on him now and if I just had a spare few million dollars I am sure I could convince someone to let me bring him home and keep him on the balcony 😉

I have since learned he is one of the star stallions of the Dubai Arabian Stud, and travels the world competing in shows and attracting the attention of the owners of Arabian mares that are looking for a suitable baby-daddy for their next foal. Seriously, these horses move between Germany, Denmark, Egypt, UAE and who knows where else all within the space of a year.  They have more frequent flyer miles than my cats!

You seriously have to click on the video link of Royal Colours’ Homepage. Still photographs don’t do Arabians justice at all.  I cannot post the link directly but the link to the video is on the bottom right. You must do this! Trust!

*What modern horse doesn’t have a homepage these days right?  Shit.  He is probably on Twitter!

***

Just in case you’re interested, here is some introductory information about Arabian horses that I took directly from the Show’s website.

“The Arabian with a known history going back about five thousand years, is the oldest breed of horse in existence. The earliest records depict his ancestors as war horses in the green crescent of Mesopotamia – swift spirited steeds hitched to chariots or bestrode by marauding warriors.
Along with the conquering armies, his forebears and his fame spread throughout the known world. As the prized possession of the great kings and rulers, the Arabian horse became a symbol of power and wealth and he was universally acclaimed as the saddle horse “par excellence.” He was the original source of quality and speed, and he remains pre-eminent in the sphere of soundness and endurance.
Either directly or indirectly, the Arabian contributed to the formation of virtually all the modern breeds of light horse.

Other Highlights

In a sea of magnificent horses, truly there was not one ordinary horse amongst them, there were some standouts for me.

In the section  of stallions in the age bracket of  7-9 years old was the winner Nijem Ibn Eternity.

Nijem ibn Eternit (Image Source: Filsinger Photography).
Nijem ibn Eternity (Image Source: Filsinger Photography).

Nijem is owned by the Sultan, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

I have deliberately looked for video footage of these horses because apart from their physical beauty, it really is the way they move that makes them so exquisite. Take a look at this You Tube presentation and skip to the 22 second mark to see the video component (22-50 seconds). A good Arabian will trot as if on air, appearing to hover over the ground before each step.  This stallion had an outstanding gait, aided by his skilled handler that brought him out in front of the audience in a perfect long-paced  trot.

The Fillies

How cute were the little ones! My favourites were Jumilla, a winners in the 2 year old fillies category, and Zainah Al ThalIitha, a winner in the 1 year olds.

Winners from the fillies. The 1 year old Zainah Al ThalIitha (front) who doesn't even have a full-grown tail yet, and the 2 year old Jumilla.

Winners from the fillies. The 1 year old Zainah Al ThalIitha (front) who doesn't even have a full-grown tail yet, and the beautiful 2 year old Jumilla (grey).

The Handlers

This photo of a 1y/o filly shows the interaction between the handler and the horse.

This photo of a 1y/o filly shows the interaction between the handler and the horse.

I would liken these guys to bullfighters in the way they move and control the animal. They hold a whip with a paper bag on the end which makes a swishing noise but rarely comes in contact with the horse (and then it only brushes-past it).

They seem to dance in front of the horse, with each movement prompting the horse to correct its posture ever so slightly.

The best handlers had the ability to make their horse display itself with the most grace and personality.

Winners of the various fillies categories.

Winners of the various fillies categories.

The ‘Bangers’

Ever wondered why the horses run into the ring stepping high, shaking their heads, with wild looking eyes and their tails held high?  It’s because of  ‘the bangers’.

I have no idea if these guys have an official name, but they are basically workers from the stud that owns the horse. They take whips with plastic bags on the end and they russle the bags and bang the whips on the side of the fence near the horse to stir it up.  The more stirred up the horse, the better it presents itself in terms of erect head, neck and tail, and the wilder and more ‘spirited’ its eyes are.

The noise of these guys stirring the crap out of the horses before they enter the ring is near deafening!

At first I found it very confronting and commented to Richard, “The ugly side of horse shows that don’t see on the TV huh?’  But after a while I noticed that the horses calmed down very quickly (too quickly for the bangers who had to keep banging if they wanted the effect to last). The horses seemed to become increasingly immune to the banging and tended to zone out as soon as it stopped. They certainly didn’t look particularly traumatised.  The nicest view you could have of it would be to compare it with playing with a cat or a puppy where you stir it up and it runs around like a spazz, but is actually not that afraid.

In fact, the only thing that really razzed up these beasts was when one stallion got in the personal space of another stallion.  Then there was plenty of nostril flaring, foot stamping, head tossing and the odd scream.

Funny how a bunch of small Asian men with bendy sticks and plastic bags fails to rile a horse as much as 500 kilos of rival muscle and testosterone!

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One response to “Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship

  1. THE ARABIAN HORSE IS FANTASTIC, so sensitive and more then welcome in the arena where they are wel received

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