The beauty, strength, intelligence, and spirit of the Arabian horse are the stuff of legend — they’ve been the pride of the Bedouin for millennia. Standing next to your horse at the HoofbeatZ equestrian center in Dubai, you can experience this beautiful aspect of Emirati culture in a totally unexpected way.
At HoofbeatZ, you don’t just ride horses; you establish a connection with them. The real magic of the Arabian horse is best understood through intimate contact and attuning to the animal, so you’re here to bond and whisper in the horse’s language.
You don’t have a lot of experience around horses, so it’s kind of a thrill just to be near one. But you’re not the only inexperienced one here — HoofbeatZ is all about bringing ordinary people in touch with these animals and this part of the culture; everyone else in the room is still figuring this out, too.
As your instructor tells you, your task here is to build a relationship with the horse, just like the Bedouin do. You stand with your horse, talk to her, put on a halter, and walk with her in the paddock – it takes a moment, but soon you find yourself walking in sync. As you walk together, your self-consciousness melts away and the normal chatter of your thoughts starts to fade. Walk a bit further, and gradually you feel attuned to the big, gentle creature walking beside you. And, strangely, you feel like she’s figuring you out, too. Arabian horses are famed for sensitivity and gentle dispositions, and you’re starting to feel those traits as you spend more time with her. But you have to be in the right mindset, too. As your instructor says: If you are compassionate, the horse will do anything in its power to please you. If you’re aggressive, nothing will work.
Eileen Verdieck, co-founder of HoofbeatZ, says the horses see what you are on the inside. If you’re nervous or aggressive, the horse will know it — even if you don’t show it on the surface. “The horse is like a mirror,” she explains. “It’ll reflect what you are. If you’re high-strung or nervous, the horse will respond that way. You have to learn to work with the horse, to relate to the horse. You do the learning, so you’ll change, not him.”
Once you’ve bonded with your horse, it’s now time to ride. With a helping hand from your instructor, you put a foot in the stirrup and swing a leg over. It feels surprisingly high off the ground, and you need a second to adjust to the horse’s movements. But you’re not nervous; you trust your horse completely. You and your friends ride around the paddock, first walking, then trotting, and then finally cantering around the ring. Flying smoothly over the ground, you feel like you and your horse are moving in perfect harmony, and you can’t remember the last time you felt such pure joy.
When you leave the paddock, you feel different — lighter, calmer, happier than when you walked in. This morning, you just admired Arabian horse culture. Now, you’ve experienced it.