Portrait of a nation: Emirati rider dedicates his life to equestrianism

Mohammed Al Kumaiti dedicates almost every waking hour to his passion, which is to spend as much time in the saddle as he can.

Emirati Mohamed Al Kumaiti, 37, general manager of Ajman Equestrian Club, in a horse stable in Ajman. Sarah Dea / The National
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Mohammed Al Kumaiti knew where his future lay from a young age and he pursued it with vigour. Now at the top of his profession as a master horseman, he explains the demands and sacrifices that his passion entails.

AJMAN // Mohammed Al Kumaiti has been riding horses since he was a young boy. He dedicates almost every waking hour to his passion, which is to spend as much time in the saddle as he can.

The Emirati first got on a horse at age 10 when he joined the Ajman Equestrian Club and started taking part in competitions five years later.

In Grade 10, he left high school to dedicate all of his time to riding and caring for horses.

“I can’t count how many tournaments I have participated in because they are in every country in the world, such as Germany, Belgium, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE,” said the 37-year-old.

His decision to quit school to pursue his dream was met with mixed emotions by his family. His father tried to convince the teenager to continue with his studies, but also recognised his son’s passion and skill with horses and encouraged and helped him to practise the sport.

“My father tried to reason with me not to leave school, but I couldn’t go back because I felt that I love horses and equestrianism more than studying,” said Mr Al Kumaiti who now works as the equestrian club’s general manager.

“I wanted to continue my studies, but there is no free time in this sport because I exercise [horses] every day from 5am to 9am and then I go to the club. After that I exercise again from 4pm to 8pm.”

After initially working for Sharjah Police in the mounted unit, he then took his current job where he takes a hands-on approach to the role.

He grooms and cleans his horses, something he was taught during his time spent in Europe.

“When I was 17 years old I went to Ireland because it is the country that refines horsemen,” he said.

“Cleaning the horse is the task of the rider, not the cleaners, because if they don’t understand the basics they can’t manage a club and the sport won’t be developed.

“My coach would always tell me ‘you are not only a horseman for riding a horse, you have to learn everything about horses to manage an equestrian club’.”

Mr Al Kumaiti’s decision to dedicate his life to horses was not easy, he had to start from the bottom.

“I started from zero, showering horses, their carts, stables and riding. In the end I am the owner of the horse and I care about its psychological condition. If I don’t clean and take care of it I can’t know what is its condition and the cleaner can’t know.”

Over the years Mr Al Kumaiti has been the UAE champion in equestrian competitions seven times and also holds titles for showjumping. His greatest joy in the sport comes from raising a foal into a fully grown champion.

“Horsemen acquire from riding patience, humility and respect for everyone who works with them,” he said.

While riding comes naturally to him he said that he sometimes struggles with the long hours his passion requires.

“If there was any difficulty, I enjoyed it because of my love [for horses]. But the hardest thing was alienation from homeland and family.”

When not on horseback the avid sportsman also enjoys skydiving, hunting, fishing, diving and sports cars. He has now taken up photography, but says nothing compares to his beloved horses.

“I still practise today. Equestrian is the most beautiful hobby I have ever practised and I give it most of my time.”