I don’t know why, but it’s extremely difficult to find 1- or 2-hour rides in the majority of GCC countries.
Google search gives you next to nothing: sites are not updated regularly, phones are not working… But nevertheless, after few unsuccessful attempts, I found a place to ride on the outskirts of Doha.
I will leave aside the long story how I got there – if you don’t ask a taxi driver to take you to a well-known hotel, their city knowledge is normally worse than yours, and even a map printed from Google Earth doesn’t help much. So, finding this place was an adventure on its own. We had to call the owner of the stables half a million times to get directions, but finally, almost 2 hours later, we got to Al Shamriya Equestrian Center.
The Equestrian Center is located 50 kilometres away from Doha’s downtown, on the land of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani.
And the equestrian school is not the only place of interest there. You can also enjoy a visit to the Sheikh Faisal Museum, which contains the Sheikh’s personal collection of artefacts dating from the Jurassic age through the early Islamic period and up to the present day, across four themes: Islamic Art, Qatar Heritage, Vehicles, and Coins & Currency.
For the trail ride I got ‘Baby Mozart’ – a large and a bit lazy Arabian gelding.
I was accompanied by two excited, ever-giggling sisters of 5 and 8 years old. The pony of the youngest one was led by the groom, so there was no chance to ride any faster than working walk, but that wasn’t the case.
The park where we were riding reminded me of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ stories. It was literally packed with peacocks walking around, sitting on trees and showing off their tails. Apart from the beauty of their feathers and their larger size, these birds are not that much different from chickens, poking around in garbage cans, fighting with each other and producing this strange heartrending noise. Ok, nothing and no one is perfect in this world. :-) I get it.
Another fun impression of that day was finding the person who should hold the Guinness book record as the worst photographer in the world! Not kidding! When I asked the groom who led the pony rode by the younger sister to take a picture of me with my iPhone – he made this.
I asked him to take a few more shots, but they were even worse. :-D I know it’s hard to believe, but the other ones didn’t even have a piece of the horse or me in the picture, so I gave up trying and ended up with a few between-the-ears pictures of Mozart and the surroundings to document my international ride #9. Sorry for potato quality.
At the end of our 1.5-hour ride, the owner told me that she could see I can sit firmly in the saddle, and next time I can rent a horse to ride in the vast territory of the park for 1-2 hours on my own.
Al Shamriya Equestrian Centre Facebook page:
Sheikh Faisal Museum site: http://www.fbqmuseum.org/index.php/about-us.html