A scenic, sunset horse ride is about as idyllic a pursuit as one could wish for.
Not much beats taking in the views out over the sea and the long stretches of sand, as a magnificent horse carries you down the beach, moving in and out of the water.
Arabian Star Stables offers exactly that, with its ad hoc beach rides, which have been taking place throughout the summer in Umm Al Quwain.
Rasha Hina, owner of Arabian Star Stables, pictured below, says the rides are an equalising experience, ideal for beginners and experienced riders alike to sit back and enjoy.
"I enjoy going with horses on the beach because I feel freedom and the customers feel the same, there are no instructions ― you can ride yourself; we don’t push them on this trip to do any good techniques, it’s a free ride," says Hina, who has been riding horses for more than 20 years.
"Swimming with the horses gives you a nice vibe and energy; you feel relaxed, you feel happy."
She has an easy solution for any concerns that the UAE's summer evenings may be too hot for a beach ride: "When you feel too hot, you can go back to the sea, give the horse some water and cool yourself down."
However, it's not just about the beautiful sunset views. Hina says that the beach rides have benefits for the animals, especially at Arabian Star Stables, a facility that specialises in training horses for long-distance races.
"The benefits include improving a horse’s bone density and strengthening muscles without risking any injuries, because when the horse swims in the water, there is no body weight or pressure on their bones or tendons," Hina says of the low-impact rides.
"For race horses, for example, we make a swimming schedule in a special pool, to help improve their stamina and strengthening their heart for long-distance races."
She says that for the riders, benefits include being "good for mental health, as well has having physical well-being".
The stables are named after the Arabian horse, a breed noted for its recognisable facial features, as well as its speed and temperament.
"They aren’t so popular for riding, they’re more like beauty horses," Hina says of the distinctive breed with a laugh. "They have good bodies and nice, soft feminine faces. But they are good for short-distance speed races, not long distances. They are also not huge or big horses, and people need horses that are more suitable for their size and level.
"We have Arabian horses, but we don’t recommend them for schooling, to teach kids or adults, because they are bossy and smart horses who need a good rider," she says. "So we have mixed breed, Uruguay, Argentinian or half-Arabian, half-Anglo horses — horses that are safe for kids and adults."
Away from the beach, the stables — which opened during the coronavirus pandemic in August 2020 — offer desert hacks and lessons, full-moon rides and arena lessons.
"We are an academy — our rides aren't just for fun," Hina says. "At our stables, the hacks and rides are all like training sessions, or classes. We’re building the riders to be good and professional, to go for races or specialise in an equestrian sport."
Lessons in the stables' arena start at Dh100 and desert lessons start at Dh120, but Hina says that they "always have offers".
She recommends the arena for beginners, people who have never been for rides before because "it’s much safer in a closed paddock". She says that riders then upgrade to sessions in the desert, which are open to "anyone intermediate to advanced level, who knows how to canter or to control the horse".