Bianca Schutz of the UAE riding Fearless WS competes in the dressage competition during the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on September 26. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The UAE Dressage team which made its debut at the Asian Games returned rich with experience. The team, which finished 8th in China, are now looking forward to participating in the UAE’s upcoming Dressage season, which gets under way on October 14.

The first rider of the competition was Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, one of the UAE’s top Endurance riders who has developed a passion for Dressage. He said: “This is my first season competing at this level, and my only aim was to do my best and make my country proud. Ecencka is a sensitive mare, and I didn’t want to let the atmosphere get to me, as the horse can feel everything you’re feeling. We posted a personal best score.”

Teammate and fellow Al Wathba Stables rider Bianca Schutz said, “The venue is amazing, and it was an exciting experience for me and the Fearless W.S. We have only been together for a short time and are still growing and learning together. She always gives a bit extra, and I feel confident about the future. I’m very proud to represent the UAE.”

Huge learning curve

Another rider making his Asian Games debut was Mohamed Jassim Al Serkal, who had a difficult start to the competition: “The first day was a tough one for myself and Hermes. I believe the weather got the best of us, with the heat and humidity proving challenging after a cooler summer in Europe. I made costly mistakes, but this experience has been a huge learning curve. Hermes and I have only been together since May, and as with any partnership, they take time to develop.”

The duo, who, despite their limited time together, secured first Place in Deauville’s CDIAm Freestyle back In July, with Mohamed heaping praise on sponsor Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy and owner of Al Shira’aa, for her continued support and encouragement in allowing him to pursue his passion and inspire the next generation of Emirati riders.

Rider Natalie Lankster, who qualified for the finals and scored 65.68 per cent in the Freestyle with some positive comments from the judges, said of the final day, “Cash was feeling very energetic today, perhaps a little too enthusiastic at times! The atmosphere in the stadium was electric and he was rather excited but held it together to post a solid score and we’re so proud of how far we’ve all come.”

For now, the team are focusing on the upcoming UAE season and developing the younger horses up through the levels. The next International planned will be the CDI1* taking place in Riyadh, KSA this coming November.