By Lakshmi Kothaneth -
At the Sharqiyah Sands, 110 horse riders and that many pure bred Arabian horses lined up to begin their unique journey at 8.30 am yesterday morning, with magnificent sand dunes as their backdrop. The Minister of Tourism, Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, waved the flag officially starting the ride across 180 kms.
With the blessing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, an avid horse lover, the ride was originally conceived to combine the thrill of adventure, with the exploration of a country that abounds with a rich cultural heritage, according to the organisers. These explorers of Oman will experience the land and its culture riding Oman’s own Arabian horses.
Riders from nine countries were full of excitement and focus as they prepared for the unique ride on exclusively Oman’s own Arabian horses. Majority of the horses are from the Royal Cavalry while others from private owners in Oman. For some of the riders it is the first time to camp in a desert and first time to ride a pure bred Arabian horse. “Arabian horses seemed to have more energy, and are fiery. It is very exciting,” some of the riders pointed out.
The first stage of Gallops of Oman covers 40 kms and will take the riders more than six hours to cover the distance. “It is a challenging one, especially the part where they have to climb up the dune and come down the slope. The horses have been here practising for a week,” explained Brigadier Abdulrazak Alshahwarzi.
The riders are from nine nationalities including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, USA, Belgium, Switzerland and the host, Oman. The participants are formed into 22 teams of five each.
Today the riders will cover a distance of 41 kms where they will head to Tiwi Khazeena camp.
In the welcome speech, the chairman of the committee, Brigadier Abdulrazak Alshahwarzi, explained the unique concept of Gallops of Oman. The Royal Cavalry Band performed the welcome music.
In total there are five stages and the fifth stage will conclude at Qudayma Camp, the other two camps are at TIWI Al Hatayem Camp and Quhaid Camp.
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