Living Forward blog - Maggie Mieske in Qatar
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Well, at least that seems to be how many of the riders at yesterday's ride seemed to ride. The winner of the ride from Al Shahaniya Stud averaged around 25 km an hour. There were others who went faster that were pulled. I have to admit that these horses all looked strong and I don't know their histories, but I am sure many of them are veteran endurance horses. I liked what I saw for horseflesh (and this time saw very few underweight or skinny horses). Al Shahaniya and Al Shaqab teams dominated the top 15 spots that pay money (I don't have final results for the entire ride as we were exhausted, called it a night and went home early, which was about 10:30 p.m.). I can say that of the first 15, Al Shahaniya won 3 placings (1st, 5th and 6th) and Al Shaqab won 6 (3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th). It looked almost as if Al Shaqab were pairing their horses and perhaps they were, but they did not all arrive at the same time, though they were within 1-3 minutes of each other. They also had 15 horses entered! :) Al Shahaniya had only 4 in the 80 that I could count. None of this is official, of course, just placings as of the time Nelson and I gave it up and went home. It's about an hour and 15 minutes from Al Khor.
My biggest complaint and issue with their methods here, in addition to the speed, is the ICE WATER. They literally pour buckets and buckets of ice water on the horses, not only on their necks and shoulders, but over their back and hindquarters as well. The less organized teams with less experienced grooms (or perhaps it was less well-disciplined because I know those grooms have been doing this a few years) literally rush the horse, 4 or 5 at a time, and start throwing water at it. ICE water. I wanted to throw a groom or two myself right into those barrels of ice water. And then they panic and wonder why the horses are jumping around and their pulses won't come down! One groom was in such a rush that he grabbed his rider's horse as he came up, the rider jumped off, started to loosen the cinch (some of them actually know to do this), and the groom started trotting off with the horse....the poor horse was so discombobulated by the rush of activity, conflicting messages from groom and rider and people rushing at him with buckets, that he literally fell to his knees! He was ok (and he was one we helped crew and so did not get the massive amounts of ice water and not over his hindquarters and also managed to show the grooms how to scrape the water they were pouring off the horse...this lasted for that one horse...they did not repeat what they had learned, although I saw the rider do so when he came in again). Unfortunately, we were busy with other horses when he came in and he got the ice water treatment from the grooms (in spite of reprimands from the rider, too). Pulled for lameness. Gee, ya think? What really bugged us the most was watching the horses come in SOUND and then go lame when the ice water treatment caused them to cramp up. It makes me want to scream!