Horse-riding in Oman
October 24, 2015 | 5:13 PM
by Shruthi Nair

Traditional Omani horse-riding initially started in Sharqiyah which eventually became the Omani way of riding the horse. Traditional riding has various interesting elements to it which make it different from the riding that is practised in other parts of the world. A lot of heed is paid to intricate details like the appearance of the horse, look of the saddle, the rider’s clothes and accessories, and way of seating and riding.

The Omani saddle, known as Za’ana, is different from the contemporary saddles that are used worldwide and the most essential thing that distinguishes it from the other saddles is the absence of leg stirrups. This makes it difficult for the rider to maintain balance as they have to use their heels to embrace the horse’s body in order to maintain balance.

The Omani riders are considered to be among the best in the world which is the only reason why they can pull off such a challenging tweak in the saddle.

In addition to this, a lot of importance is given to the overall appearance of the horse. In Oman, Arabian horses which are known for its beauty, petite stature and elegance is predominantly ridden. These horses are further decorated and beautified by nicely embroidered colourful clothing known as the Numnah that is put under the saddle so that the body of the horse doesn’t get scraped or bruised by the friction caused against its skin by the saddle.

Also, the horse bridle is often made of silver and looks like a facial ornament for the horse. Special bandages and boots are also worn to protect the legs of the horse from injuries and damage. However, it must be noted that when the rider is on the horse he ought to be wearing an Omani dishdasha, the mussar, or the turban and most importantly, the khanjar.

Initially, horses were used only during wars and other such battles, but of late, the horse that has come to be associated with pride and honour are ridden during important festivals like Eid celebrations and competitions. Nowadays, people from different cities and villages across Oman gather together in one place for various traditional horse-riding competitions that happen at least thrice a year.

The horses are evaluated on the basis of their training, skills and stunts, speed, and so on. As per some customs, the rider sings a typical Omani hymn while entering with his horse after which the horse is expected to perform some skilled tricks and stunts as per the rider’s instruction in front of the gathering.

The horses in Oman are trained in three disciplined paces of movements known as The Walk, Khabeeb (faster than the walk and slower than a sprint), and Harwalah (run). Apart from this, the other competitions that the Arabian horses in Oman are trained for include:

Endurance: It is a comparatively recent competition introduced in the Middle East about 20 years ago in which the best horses available cover long distance ranging between 100 and 200 kilometres.

Showjumping: It is also known as stadium jumping and open jumping which is increasingly gaining ground in Oman. The horses have to jump cleanly over a set of 12 to 15 obstacles of different heights.

Dressage: An Olympic activity, in this the horse and horse-rider are expected to perform a number of tasks, stunts, and movements from memory. They usually have to go through an intense test before entering the competition.

Racing: Horse-racing is extremely popular in the Sultanate whereby people are ready to shell out huge amounts of money on the winning horse which sometimes may extend to


Tent-pegging: This is an act predominantly for the military stables such as the Royal Stable that belongs to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Royal Oman Police Stable and Royal Army Stable. Tent-pegging refers to a specific mounted game with ground targets involving edged weapons on horseback, for which the term “equestrian skill-at-arms”

is also used.

The most popular form of riding in Oman continues to be the traditional style, which is enjoyed for the challenge and beauty of it, more than for professional acclaim. Riders practice this form to preserve the heritage of horsemanship in the Sultanate, though new variations abound, with adventurous Omani riders standing on their horses backs, or on two horses running in tandem. There are special Omani-style races held for more senior riders, where top honours earned by those with experience, discipline, and a proven dedication to the heritage of the sport.


Creo Equestrian, Barka

OMR10 per class

Instagram: creoequestriann

Phone: +968 9224 4575

Qurum Equestrian Stable

Qurum Park & Nature Reserve

OMR20 per class (All other details regarding the rates are given on the website)

Phone: +968 9942 2401

Al Farsan Stable,

Qurum Park & Nature Reserve

OMR15 per class

Phone: +968 9938 6978

[email protected]

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