Abu Dhabi: What started off as a home for one rescued horse in the backyard of a house has turned into an equestrian rescue centre and animal shelter.

Tina Al Qubaisi loves rescuing animals so much so that at one point she kept 11 retired and rescued horses in her own backyard.

Working for a local stable helped Tina learn more about horse care, stable management, and teaching beginner riders, which grew to be her passion.

To date Tina works as a Health, Safety and Facility Manager while devoting the rest of her day to rescuing and homing animals in her privately owned family farm located in Shahama, which was donated by the government to her Emirati husband ten years ago.

The farm, which was initially used to grow produce, turned into the Dhabian Equestrian Club (DEC) two years ago and is now home to 34 horses, 20 cats, 40 goats and sheep, ten ducks, 12 chicken, pigeons, a camel and a donkey - of which 50 per cent were rescued.

It all started five years ago when Tina decided to buy a four-year-old horse called Shams owned by an Emirati neighbour who was unable to take care of it; a designated stable was built for Shams in Tina's garden which at the time was located in Khalifa A. Shams now has a baby foal and lives comfortably at DEC.

"From then on equestrian enthusiasts approached me for horse-riding lessons and we ended up buying five more horses which we kept in our backyard with Shams.

"That's when I decided to relocate to a bigger house in Khalifa B where we had 11 horses and 40 students," said Tina who along with her husband and three children decided to relocate a third time and live among the animals at DEC.

Tina has spent over Dh3 million from her own family savings to help run the equine rescue centre and accommodate sterilised street cats as well as any other animals.

Even though the DEC is a certified horse racing federation and makes minimal money out of offering riding lessons there is never enough cash to go round.

"Some of the animals are in desperate need of expensive feed supplements and medical attention to speed up their road to recovery. The simple donation of a bag of carrots can mean the world to them," said Tina

On moving to the farm, Tina's first rescue case was a horse called Harley who was found on the streets in a very bad condition; he was blind from malnutrition, suffered from internal problems due to starvation and also had abscesses on his feet.

Tina offered to buy Harley for Dh5,000 and provided him with instant medical assistance. Sadly despite numerous efforts Harley's health deteriorated, and a heart-wrenching decision was made to put him to sleep.

Since then, another 15 horses have been rescued and others homed at DEC; another horse called Pebbles, sun bleached and covered in mange, was found being dragged behind a car.

Pebbles now has a foal called DJ. A donkey called Sparky was also rescued after being found with severe burns and is now being rehabilitated and treated at the centre.

Another horse called Wahdan was found suffering from swollen ears, a severe skin disease from nose to tail, and had constant mucus running down his nose.

"He couldn't stand straight and will always suffer from joint problems but is living a much healthier life now," said Tina.

How to help

The DEC has approached the animal control section at Abu Dhabi Food Authority regarding expanding their farm in order to have a dedicated rescue and rehabilitation centre. They are still waiting for a response.

In the meantime, if you would like to offer your sponsorship and/or financial help to a rescued animal please contact: dhabianequestrianclub@gmail.com
00971 (0) 50 6620969