Tina Al Qubaisi, CEO and founder Dhabian equestrian club (centre) with Khalid Al Qubaisi (left) and Ateeq Al Rumaithi and horse during the 16th Edition of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX 2018) at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Children as young as three and adults as old as 65 have successfully mastered horse riding without any hassle, according to the founder of a prominent equestrian club in Abu Dhabi.

“Age is just a number. It is not important when working with horses,” Tina Al Qubaisi, CEO and Founder of Dhabian Equestrian Club, told Gulf News in an interview.

She said her 65-year old student has excelled in horse riding and many children who started riding at the age of three are continuing it as a passion.

“When children start at three, they are not afraid at all! We develop fear later on in life,” Al Qubaisi said at her club’s pavilion at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) in the capital.

She said horse riding helps children develop courage, confidence, kindness and empathy, apart from physical strength. “You need a lot of strength to ride a horse [which you develop in due course]. Children love horses and develop an empathy for all creatures.”

It is an amazing therapy even for children with autism or special needs. Asked whether the academy has special curriculum for these children of determination, Al Qubaisi said: “We train them as per their requirements!”

For adults, it is a good stress buster. After a full day’s work, it is a relaxing experience to spend some time with a horse, she said.

Contrary to popular perception, horse riding is not an expensive affair, the CEO said. Her academy charges a monthly fee of around Dh450 for a packaged curriculum of four classes of 45 minutes each.

Of her more than 500 students, around 75 per of them are expatriates from the West. Most of them are children between 11 and 16.

“I have more girl students than boys; they [girls] like horses more,” she said.

Her son, Khalid Al Qubaisi, 26, who is an instructor at the academy, said he has seen many shy children getting more confident after doing horse riding.

“They build up confidence in a big way.”

He said even disabled people can ride a horse. “It is medically proven that it helps them a lot. That’s why horses are used for therapy as well,” Khalid said.

An Emirati student at the academy said horse riding makes him cheerful always. “Whenever I feel stressed or sad, I simply go to my horses. Then I feel happy,” said Ateeq Al Rumaithi, 19, who started the training 12 years ago at the age of seven with horses in his home.

A four-year-old Scotland pony at their stall at Adihex attracted many visitors who beelined to touch him and take selfies with him.

Young children enjoy pony rides at the academy, they said.

Al Qubaisi said her efforts to rehabilitate an abused and abandoned horse led to the establishment of the academy seven years ago. “He [an endurance horse named Dhabian] was in a very bad condition after sustaining some injuries. He was not good to anyone.”

She rescued him, retrained him and started using him for riding. Then ten more horses joined him. “From one horse in my garden it went to 11.”

She started the academy in her farm in Al Rahba and named it after the first rescued horse, Dhabian.

Her relationship with horses started from childhood. “I was with horses since I was a baby; my mother used to ride horses,” said Al Qubaisi who is originally from the UK who made the UAE home 27 years ago. “Now I have a UAE passport; my kids were born here,” she said.