Dubai Pony Friends
One of the best parts about working at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club is the fact that everywhere you look there is a cute pony, I am surrounded by them all the time! Ok, maybe not all the time, because I work in the office, but my office is located above a stable, so I give the ponies a little cuddle or snack on my way in and out.
By the way I call all horses ponies, regardless of size. Even our huge Clydesdale Buddy and the even “huger” ex-military Irish Sport Horse Nowzak. To me they are all ponies and adorable and cute. In fact, size can be misleading since often the pint-sized ones can be the trickiest to handle.
We have a little rascal, who whinnies at everyone and anyone who comes around, and in a bad way. Another one, Mubarak, managed to escape from the paddock one day and cross two barns to come sniff out a stallion while we were having a dressage competition! Luckily nothing happened and the grooms quickly got him back in his stall. And his dad Sultan is mischievous too. He was put in the walker paddock to exercise, only to quickly find out he could roll under the fence and escape it. It was a hilarious scenario, which I wish I had on camera. Anyways, these little guys are cute, but give the most trouble in our stables.
It’s really fun to get to know all the different ponies, their temperaments, how they react to certain things and how incredibly different they all are, especially to ride!
Since I started riding in the mornings I have been on Beauty, Meg, George, Buddy, Arthur, Captain and Finn and they are all so different!
Beauty really is a beauty. She is part shire and part some little pony breed, so she looks like a small shire and she is just so round and fluffy and cute. She’s a bit slow, or rather just takes things pretty chill. It would be great to go on a long hack on her. Trying to get her to trot and canter requires some pushing and keeping her there requires quite a bit of discipline, but walking is just perfect and comfy.
Meg on the other hand is ready to go at all times, a tiny nudge and she shoots off. Her small gait felt so weird at first and it took me a little while to adjust. Most of my riding experience, which is still quite recent, has been on polo ponies. Their gait is longer, smoother and more even. Meg’s gait reminded me of my adrenaline-filled ride on Fanø beach.
George is one of my favorites, he’s just right, not too eager but also not too lazy. But he did spook the first time we were in the arena and threw me off. I guess I was not prepared for his reaction. Who would have thought falling off a small pony could bruise that bad (2,5 months later and I still have a sore spot on my leg)
Arthur is a good little pony, but he will for sure take advantage if you are too forgiving. And he gets bored quite quickly, especially during selfie sessions.
Buddy made me a bit scared of heights, especially when we started cantering, even though his gait is nice and long it was also somehow very bouncy and I felt like I was miles away from the ground.
One afternoon on my day off, I came to ride and Mark, my friend, instructor and the riding school manager, gave me a real treat. I got to ride Captain LX, a beautiful Spanish horse. Wow, what an amazing experience it was to ride on him and a tough one too. He was so responsive that the slightest change in my seat or pressure made him do something entirely different. It was a great feeling to be connected to a horse like that, but boy did I have to keep absolute control of my spaghetti arms (that tend to go up and forward) and my legs that kinda do their own thing and of course my upper body, which has a tendency to slouch a little and lean way too much forward for the likes of dressage. All these actions created immediate reactions from Captain, reminding me that I was not doing things properly.
And finally I met my cutie Finn, he came with the last batch of horses imported from the UK and had been in quarantine for a few weeks, so he didn’t get to us until about mid December. I first met him when we were doing a little photoshoot for the riding school. I didn’t know Finn at all, but during the photoshoot we did a little canter and even though it was short it was so sweet. That feeling of flying. I have since then had my power struggles with him, but I love his stride, I just easily sync with him and how can you not fall in love with his pretty face.
As you can see, when you really get into the equestrian experience, it is quite fascinating how much variety there can be. Whether it’s dressage, polo, horse jumping or just going for a leisurely ride, it’s an amazing opportunity to connect to nature and to these magnificent creatures.
Those were my riding school pony friends. Stay tuned for my new polo academy pony friends and tell me about your favourite ponies in the comments field below!