Syrian opposition organizes Arab horse festival
ALEP, Syria – Areas under the control of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army in the countryside northeast of Aleppo held the first purebred Arabian horse festival, as the number of breeding establishments of horses and riding increases.
The local council in the city of Qabasin, in the Aleppo countryside, wrote on Facebook on June 26: “In cooperation with Haras Al-Khalifa, the first Tarhin festival for purebred Arabian horses was held with the participation of more than 70 horses in the Hippodrome Aliken in [the village of] Tarhin. The first, second and third place winners were honored amid a large turnout from people from the eastern Aleppo countryside. We would like to thank Al-Khalifa Stud Club for their efforts to make the race a success.
The head of the Equestrian Federation of Northern Syria, Ahmed al-Abdullah, told Al-Monitor: “The feast of Tarhin is the first step taken by the Equestrian Federation in northern Syria, which was established by the Syrian opposition about three months ago.
He said: “The festival aims to showcase purebred Arabian horses and their beauty, increase the popularity of equestrian sports and encourage people to follow them.”
Al-Monitor was present at the festival, the first stage of which included seven rounds. The first was intended for riders riding young horses who were running for the first time over a distance of 1,000 meters (0.6 miles). The second was for galloping foals, covering a distance of 1,200 meters (0.7 mile) – eight horses competed, each of which was about two years old and had already participated in horse races.
The competition was fierce, especially in the third round which was called the national race; the race distance was 2,200 meters (1.4 miles), in which nine purebred Arabian horses competed. The fourth round was called the National Race A, in which six purebred Arabian horses competed over a distance of 1,600 meters (1 mile). The fifth round was called Mohassen and spanned a distance of 1,200 meters (0.7 mile), in which seven purebred Arabian horses competed. The sixth was called the Middle Race, dedicated to purebred middle-aged Arabian horses, in which 12 horses competed in a 1,600-meter race. The seventh and final round was called the Champions Race, in which 10 purebred Arabian horses competed, and the race spanned a distance of 2,000 meters (1.2 miles).
Abdullah said: “The top three winners of each of the seven rounds have been honored and given prizes. The winner received a prize of 1,000 Turkish lira [$115], the second place winner received 500 Turkish lira [$58] and the third winner received 300 Turkish lira [$35]. “
He noted: “The purebred Arabian horses participating in the festival belong to a group of clubs and breeders in the opposition areas of northwestern Syria, the most important of which are the Al-Safira Horse Club. Arabs, the Al-Khalifa stud farm and Al- Azza Association for purebred Arabian horses. Runners from different regions participated, including campaigns from Idlib and Aleppo, in addition to internally displaced people from eastern Syria, some of whom took part in several races on different horses.
Ahmed al-Afandi, director of the media office of the Equestrian Federation in northern Syria, told Al-Monitor: “Horseback riding has not been very popular in opposition areas in recent years, but we now notice that young people are very interested in learning it. We also found that many people were interested in this sport given the high participation in Tarhin Festival.
Mukhtar Abu Askar, director of the Al-Khalifa stud farm and one of the organizers of the Tarhin festival, told Al-Monitor: “Two years ago, we established the Al-Khalifa stud farm near the city of al-Bab in the Aleppo countryside. This year, we organized the Tarhin Festival for Purebred Arabian Horses in cooperation with the local council of Qabasin, and Al-Khalifa Stud Club offered the prizes awarded to the winners.
Meanwhile, Abdul Kafi al-Ahmad, head of the sports and youth office of the Qabasin local council, told Al-Monitor: “The local council supports activities that revive the heritage of our ancestors and encourages equestrian sports enthusiasts and horse breeders periodically organize such festivals to educate locals about the beauty and importance of horses.
He said: “The festival we organized recently was in cooperation with the Stud Club Al-Khalifa who covered all the costs of the festival.”
A participant in the Deir ez-Zor countryside festival in eastern Syria told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity: “Horse breeding is a profession I inherited from my parents and grandchildren. -parents, but the war and displacement forced me to stop practicing this profession. for several years. However, when I moved to the opposition-controlled areas in the Aleppo countryside and found some stability, it prompted me to resume and participate in races.
Abu Askar noted: “The breeders of purebred Arabian horses in the Aleppo countryside face many challenges, the most important of which is the difficulty of obtaining medicines and vaccines for the horses, and the lack of ‘stables and basic tracks for training horses and races. One of the most difficult challenges we face is the outrageous increase in feed prices, as the cost of fodder for a horse reaches 400,000 Syrian pounds per month. [$318]. “
The World Arab Horse Organization, established in 1967, is responsible for improving the blood purity of Arabian horses and maintaining their pedigree. Syria joined the organization in 1989 and established an office for Arabian horses in late 1994.