It’s been a while since I posted the previous story, and I was thaaaat close to quitting blogging completely :-), but then I realised that there are a few more stories I want to tell and some really nice places I want to share with other horse riders.
So here is a post about another beautiful country and one more amazing ride on my map:
Country #12 – Oman: The Sultan’s Land or How I Found a Diamond
As one of my friends told me after I’d shared yet another Middle-Eastern travel experience with her: You are lucky to learn and see the differences between Middle Eastern countries and cultures. From afar, they all look like one big hot spot, busy with oil drilling and internal conflicts.
And she is right, I feel truly blessed with my experiences. One of my favourite countries to visit is Sultanate of Oman. I’ve been there few times and I like the peaceful beaches of Salalah; the narrow streets of Nizwa, which look like time has been frozen here since the beginning of the last century; the foggy mountain roads next to Tumrait; and the bazaar famous for silver jewellery, which is sold from bottomless baskets, so you will have your hands dirty with the oxide by the elbows until you find something truly unique, which you will proudly wear for years; and even the exhausting 10-hour-long night drive from Muscat to Salalah through the desert, looking like Planet Tatooine from Star Wars, But best thing is that all of these completely different experiences beautifully come together in the intricate mosaic of this country.
The place and experience I want to share with you today is one of the most shining pieces in my collection of Oman impressions, so let’s get started.
One of the perks of my job is that I have to travel a lot. One might think that this always-on-the-go lifestyle can limit my ability to ride, but contrary to this I always find new riding places, try different riding styles and learn from different horseman.
Currently, I live in Bahrain and, because of my duties, about three quarters of all my travels are around the region, which is famous as the motherland of Arabian horses.
Of course, when I’m on a business trip, I don’t have the same freedom as on a vacation, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot enjoy my hobbies.
Luckily I’ve been sent to Muscat in May and according to Muscat Time Out magazine May is the perfect time to enjoy morning beach ride in Al Qurum Park.
Yes, I slept only 5 hours that night. Yes, I had to wake up at 4:30 and miss my breakfast to get on the long taxi trip from the Airport area to Al Qurum park (Muscat is a long strip of inhabited areas squeezed between the shore of the Indian Ocean and the Al Hajar mountains), but it was totally and absolutely worth it.
I arrived at the park at 5:40 AM and spent a hectic 15 minutes trying to locate the stables. Running back and forth under the burning sun was quite a good stretching exercise before riding, but finally, the stables’ owner, Anwar, who got tired of receiving call after call and explaining how to get there, told me to stay still at the Fountain square and came to pick me up, so I didn’t get completely lost and did not delay the other riders.
During the short drive to the stables I learned, that Qurum Equestrian Riding School is not the only Anwar’s stables. He also had a place in the middle of the desert where he raises racing horses.
Believe it or not, we managed to get to the stables at 6 AM exactly, and the horses were already prepared for us by the grooms.
I got a stunning ginger mare called Al Masa (meaning ‘a Diamond’ or ‘Brilliant’ in Arabic), and brilliant she was: muscular, very well-schooled, with perfect immediate reactions to subtle body movements and rein touches. Anwar was riding her father – another beautiful Arabian which he taught to do some almost circus-like tricks. Our small riding party was comprised of Anwar’s friend/ horse riding student.
We went through the park to the bay, and my first beach on the shore of the Gulf of Oman started. All 3 horses seemed to wait until we stepped onto the wet sand of the beach, and with the tiniest tilt forward they started cantering – that was a great feeling and the headwind helped to feel a bit cooler.
At one point we had to go quite deep to the sea to circumnavigate the large rocks blocking the path. Anwar warned me that Al Masa didn’t like walking in the sea as she couldn’t see where she is stepping. She truly was a bit too deliberate choosing her path, but if I hadn’t known that she didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have noticed.
We reached the other side of the beach and enjoyed some steamy coffee in paper cups from the local coffee shop while still sitting on the horses.
A few minutes later we were galloping back, and as all riders know, horses are more eager to go back home to their morning food, so we had a bit of a race there. :-)
Our trail time was perfectly managed, so by the time we came back my taxi was already there and we surged to the hotel. 20 minutes for showering and changing clothes that smelled like horses (not all people can recognize the beauty of this smell :-)), short drive to the office and at 9 AM sharp, I started another meeting in our Muscat office.
The perfect start to the perfect day and another reminder that if you truly want something and are ready to sleep a bit less, there is enough time for anything in your life.
Qurum Riding Center website: http://www.qe.hashimani.com/
Qurum Riding Center facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Qurum-Riding-School/778580042203638