Wednesday, September 07, 2011

UAE: Growing popularity of equestrianism to be evident at ADIHEX 2011


ADIHEX to give visitors chance to see forward-looking and futuristic developments in equestrian field.

ABU DHABI - Equestrianism is not only one of the oldest and noblest of pursuits, but also one of the fastest-growing. From Argentina, where pato, played on horseback and combining elements of polo and basketball, is the national sport, to the rediscovery and breeding of the ancient Caspian horse, and the burgeoning attraction of vaulting in the north-west United States, equestrian events of all types are increasing in popularity around the world. In the UK, for example, the sport enjoys such popularity that an estimated 43 percent of households (11 million) have a household member with some form of interest in equestrianism (including racing)*, and the equestrian sector is the largest sporting employer in the UK**.

In the UAE, horses play a special role. The Emirates Equestrian Federation was established in 1992 – under the Chairmanship of His Excellency Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council – and in 1996, in Kansas, USA, UAE riders participated for the first time in a World Championship endurance event. Just two years later, the UAE hosted the World Championship endurance event which attracted a record 162 competitors. Polo –‘the sport of kings’ – is rapidly becoming more popular with both participants and spectators in the country.

Moreover, the Arabian horse have historically dominated the discipline of endurance riding. Yet in tandem with celebrating these traditions, ADIHEX will give visitors the chance to see forward-looking and futuristic developments in the equestrian field – a celebration of the past, present and future of riding, driving or vaulting with horses, and the use of horses for practical working purposes, transportation, recreational activities, artistic or cultural exercises, and competitive sport.

The increasing popularity of equestrianism is evidenced by the greater number of exhibitors at the ninth edition of ADIHEX (Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition), taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 14th to 17th September. Among those exhibiting is Al Khail Equestrian Equipment, suppliers of “everything from horse equipment to stable equipments and feed supplements,” in the words of Derick Samson, Veternarian at the company.

Samson says that the growing popularity of equestrian activities in the UAE has led not only to the import of equipment such as the SATO Tread Mill and Horse Walker Machine, which can be used to analyze poor performance in horses and prescribe remedial action, but also to products that have been developed especially for the country: “Our products on the supplements side are tailor-made for the UAE, since we bring doctors to conduct research on the country’s environment and weather before we actually develop the product. Our products include HBA supplements, complete vitamin minerals and many others, and we are in most cases the exclusive distributor.”

Samson says that the increasing prominence of equestrianism is driving new trends in the industry: “Clients are increasingly looking for equipments that help in pampering their horse. For example, we now offer horse spa machines, that are becoming very popular, and they help to relax the tendons of the horse.”

The long, proud history of equestrianism will be represented fully at the stand of Sorrell Studios, where the company’s proprietor and artist, Kenna bint Mohamed Al-Sayed Al-Hashami, will be present. Ms Al-Sayed, whose artwork has been included in the past five American Saddlebred Museum’s Annual Art Auctions, as well as being juried into the Ex Arte Equinus 4 International Equine Art Competition, will show and sell her work at the Sorrel Studios LLC stand at ADIHEX, located at H8 – 4.

Ms Al-Sayed is a member of the International Equine Artists group and a devoted horse rider who has been riding for over twenty years. Her experience around horses has helped to give her extensive knowledge of equine movement, reactions, and the intricacies of tack associated with various disciplines of riding. By staying in touch with the equestrian world, her art reflects different breeds of horses, riding styles, tack and training methods accurately.

Ms Al-Sayed believes that art is one area where equestrianism is under-represented and under-recognized: “I would like to think that equestrian art will start gaining respect within the art world. As of now, art that is realistic in depicting animals (in this case, horses) is not thought of as ‘high art’ and is usually harder to get accepted into prestigious art competitions. There are a number of groups and competitions that are just for equine artists and many of the artists competing in them are world class – it would be nice to see our subject matter receiving more attention. I would also love to see realism as a genre undergo a renaissance within the art world and with the public. All artworks are valid and deserve attention as they are a means of expression; it just seems there has been a trend for only modern abstract works to be constantly revered, yet there are many artists working with neo classical and photorealism techniques that could use more publicity, in my opinion.”

* British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) National Equestrian Survey (2005-6)

** British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC) (October 2009)

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