Endurance horse race – 180 km through the desert
Arabian horses are the absolute champions of horse races including endurance races. The endurance race is a long-distance race against the clock testing the speed and endurance of a horse. But it is not just a simple race. Throughout the entire race, the rider needs to keep a close eye on the horse’s condition. He needs to have knowledge of the horse capabilities, manage its stamina and fitness, and control an effective pace. Because only the first fit horse that passes the finish line of the final round is the winner.
During an endurance race horses walk distances up to 180 kilometres in several rounds of about 30 to 40 kilometres. Depending on the terrain and the ambient temperature the horse can reach an average speed from 20 to 25 km per hour. In perfect conditions the average speed can even get above 25 kilometres per hour. Endurance races can also last two or three days. However, the total distance travelled per day is then reduced.
After each round the animals are examined by a veterinarian in the so-called ‘vet-gate’, a passage for testing the horse’s condition. The vet tests the heart rate, temperature, and movement of the horse. Only when its condition is determined as fit, rider and horse can proceed into the next round.
Although it is not an official part of the endurance race itself, it is worth mentioning that before the horse goes into the ‘vet-gate’ it is groomed comprehensively. Anything and everything is done to get the horse as fit as possible. A description about the grooming and a video can be found in Horse Race in the Desert.
Racing horses is a popular sport in many countries of the Middle East, especially in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. And with success. Arab riders and their horses are both talented and well known in this equestrian field. The president of the United Arab Emirates, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa, and his family train and breed Arabian race horses. H.H. Sheikh Mohamed, president of the Emirate of Dubai, became world champion in endurance racing in 2012.
When and where?
Horse races take place weekly from October till March. From local desert races to prestigious endurance races. In the United Arab Emirates endurance races usually take place between the golden sand dunes in the desert of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Click this link for the calendar.
In February Qatar organises an international festival with seven races, including the illustrious ‘The sword of the Emir’.