Updated: Jul 11
Hello again, I'm Amna Ahli, the creater behind the EquiNation app and I'm going to introduce you to our 2 equine ambassadors today and tell you their story. Both horses are owned by my husband, Arif and are competed by both me and Arif.
What a name! There's a lot to live up to with that name! I personally dislike the name it's very boring and unimaginative, however it has been said that it's bad luck to change a horses name so after 5 years in our ownership he is still called Champion. Champion is a rather stunning chestnut horse with 3 white stockings and a big white blaze. He is an 11 year old, (2009) Oldenburg gelding, he is by Chap, out of a Landgold Mare. Champion was bought by my husband as a 6 year old from the Czech Republic and imported into the UAE before we got married. He is not the cleverest horse, and is a little slow to grasp new concepts, however he's incredibly powerful, scopey and brave, he is also very well trained under saddle. He has the biggest walk I've ever seen (it's like sitting on a rocking horse) has an incredible ability to lengthen or shorten his strides, we often like to take strides out to help us win jump offs, but he could just as easily add 1 in. He has push button flying changes and good lateral movements.
Arif competed him as a 6, 7 year old in France, Italy and the UAE. He then put him on loan with a teenage girl to jump 1.10m before coming back to us. In his 8th year he started to jump 1.40m and 1.45m, jumping his first 5* as a rising 9 year old. He then had a stable accident which required an operation on his jaw and meant he had a few months of no riding. When he came back into work he was given to another teenage girl to ride, this time teaching her to jump 1.35m and clearing a 1.75m 6 bar with her. in September 2019 I started to ride and compete him starting with 1.15m classes and competed at 1.35m in February, as well as jumping my first ever 6 bar and clearing 1.55m.
James VDB or James
James is completely my favorite horse ever because he is super cool! I have friends who laugh at his very human name, however it really suits him, as he is incredibly smart and affectionate, and definitely sees himself as human. He is very sweet and sensitive to ride, if you do something he doesn't like he lets you know about it, with a pretty good buck! James is only 6 years old (2014) however he's super chill and is not really phased by anything. He is a KWPN gelding, but was bred in the Netherlands at the Van De Brink Stables (hence the VDB in his name), and is by the 2 time Olympic stallion Cardento. From the Netherlands he traveled to Harrington horses in the UK, before being imported into the UAE by Sheikh Rashed, he then got sold to a teenage girl, still as a 3 year old. He stayed with the young girl for 2 years, however he did very little as although he is super chill he's very smart and very sensitive to the rider, and an inexperienced girl with a young horse is not the best match.
We bought James as a 5 year old, when I tried him I jumped about 4 jumps at 60cm and I decided I had to have him as I fell in love, even though he has no experience and no record I felt his potential, (at this point I didn't know about his breeding). James came to live with us in May 2019, having never competed at a show, and I thought I would take my time and eventually we would jump a few 1.20m classes after a season or 2. Well James has other plans, he jumped his first 8 rounds at 1m-1.10m clear and was not at all phased by any colours, spectators or taking a long 1 so we decided to give him a chance and moved up to 1.20m, the first time we tried didn't go to plan (rider error) however Arif then started riding him and they came 3rd in their first 1.20 together. In January 2020 he competed in his first ever International event coming 2nd in the 6/7 year old class, which was 1.25m. He continued to jump in the young horse classes competing up to 1.30m with Arif and 1.20m with me. He went from never having competed at a show to jumping 1.30m with numerous placings in 9 months and took it all in his stride! Now you see why he's my favourite?