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Rider Profile: Farah Al Khojai

Farah al Khojai Dressage uae

Farah Al Khojai is a member of Team Harmony

In a country where the equestrian scene is dominated by show jumping and endurance, Farah stands out as the first and so far the only dressage rider to represent her country in international competition. Her first international competition was at the Asian Games in 2010 where she placed 13th and with the recent addition of her new mare,Matzuka Graffin, we hope to see her taking the international dressage scene by storm!

How long have you been riding?

Seriously for the last 3-4 summers

When were you first introduced to dresage?

I first came across this beautiful discipline when I was about 14 or so. Unfortunately at the time it was very much underdeveloped in the UAE (hardly existed truthfully), and due to school commitments I was not able to pursue it.

What about dressge made it your passion?

I love every aspect of dressage.  Mainly the precision and the self discipline involved in every step of the test.  You have to be so focused with every step. It is a great feeling to be working truly as 1 with a horse.  Together controlling and enhancing the natural movement of the horse.  It is absolutely thrilling to ride down the centre line and know that you are exactly straight! That is my adrenaline rush!

In your riding career who has inspired you the most?

I am continuously inspired by people who are able to become successful from very limited resources, that have shown great determination, discipline and self belief.  My mother has and continuously is my greatest inspirational force, as she continually encourages me, and has always been there for me even through some of my greatest challenges.

Do you follow modern or classical dressage methodologies?  Or is it a case of finding what works best for you and your horses?

I always try and follow the classical teachings to dressage training.  It is essential that horses are happy and willing to work without pushing them too early and prematurely.  There has to be good ground basics in the horse’s training or it will crumble as you move up the levels.  Dressage as a sport has changed greatly over the past 40 years.  The movements themselves have changed in what is considered acceptable, not to mention the better breeding we now have. Because of these 2 reasons ‘modern dressage’ is applied, but not in the sense of the word that horses are pushed to attain higher levels more quickly, but in order to ride these ‘modern horses’ in ‘modern tests’.

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting to the Asian Games in China 2010, and reaching the final as it was my debut performance.

What are your plans for the future? London 2012

Wish I could say it was London 2012.  Unfortunately due to financial constraints this is not possible.  I plan to participate in the Pan Arab Games at the end of the year in Qatar, and bring my horses back to the UAE to participate in local competitions.  As usual I will return back to Europe for more training and competing. I look forward to and have already started planning for the Asian Games 2014.

What words of encouragement do you have for young Emirati and UAE based dressage riders?

Ride because you enjoy it, and love being with the horses.  Work hard and be disciplined as these virtues always pay off at the end.

What do you look for in a dressage horse?

For me size is a very important issue.  For my body frame I look best on smaller and more compact horses.  This was an essential issue when buying my latest horse.  Second you want a horse with very good and an active hock.  Make sure the walk and the canter are especially good as those are the hardest gaits to ‘change’.  Personally I like sensitive horses that respond quick to the leg and have a natural eagerness to move forward.  (That is half the battle, as the latter can prove to be quite exhausting).  Last but not least is temperament.  No good having a great mover that spooks at everything!

How many horses do you have?

My stallion is called ‘Dubai Duty Free Whisper’.  He is a lovely Hanoverian chestnut stallion.  He is my schoolmaster and my rock.  He is absolutely wonderful to deal with and so kind.

My newest horse of only about 1 week is a mare.  She is a Trakehner.  He full name is: Matzuka Graffin.  I thoroughly enjoy her and am hoping she will be my best competition horse.  I am looking forward to knowing her better and creating as good a bond as I have with Dubai Duty Free Whisper.

Farah would like to thank her sponsor Dubai Duty Free for their ongoing support.  Farah is continually looking for sponsors to help sustain her riding, if you know of a individual or company that would like to sponsor Farah and promote dressage in the region, please contact Farah on farah@mepetcare.com or find her on facebook.

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