Updated: Jul 11
Welcome to the first edition of the Equination Blog, as this is the first time I'm writing I thought I would start at the beginning and give a little back story about me (the creator of the app) and explain where the idea came from.
My name is Amna Ahli, I am the creator and designer of the EquiNation app, let me start at the beginning. I was born in Wales, in the UK to very non horsey parents, however fate would have it that I was pony mad and around the age of 8 my parents agreed for me to have lessons at the local riding school, this is where I learned the basic skills of walk, trot and canter. It then came about that there was a girl in our village who wanted someone to help exercise her pony, and I jumped at the chance. It was an old fat welsh pony that you tacked up in the field and put straight back in the field after, the kind that was barrel shaped from only living on thin air. Whilst riding this pony I was introduced to other equestrians in the area, the most important being Rachel and her family. Rachel's family owned a farm and were heavily involved with the local pony club, especially Prince Phillip games, Rachel's team was 1 member short to be allowed to compete and by some miracle they offered me a pony and the chance to train and compete! I eventually bought my own pony and in the years that followed we traveled the country, competing, having fun and winning many prizes, the most notable for me the Royal Welsh Show! Unfortunately you are only allowed to compete in Prince Phillip games until the age of 15, so at that age I sold my 11.2hh games pony and bought a 9 year old 15.1hh Arab x Connemara who had no experience of anything. With him I learned jumping and eventing and again had many wins reaching the Pony Club National Championships for Showjumping and Dressage. We also jumped a double clear and finished 4th in our first ever British Eventing competition. Sadly I then moved away for university and spent 3 years borrowing rides, once I finished University I made the decision to travel the world, taking a job in Ras Al Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates. In my second year in Rak I managed to find a riding school where I started to teach beginners how to ride on the Arabian endurance horses, I taught every horse at that riding school to jump and that led me to buying my own ex endurance horse and teaching him to jump, including competing at my first show jumping competitions in the UAE. It was also during this time that I was introduced to Endurance and had the chance to train and compete, eventually completing 120km.
I then took a new job in Al Ain, still in the United Arab Emirates, and moved my horse (a now ex flat race Arabian) to a stable focused on Show Jumping, this meant I was able to go out every weekend to compete and this is where I met my husband, Arif Ahmed. Now Arif is a semi professional rider, training both horses and riders, travelling internationally to compete in some of the biggest shows in the world, including 5* and Nations cups. It's thanks to him and the nature of his work that led me to develop the idea for EquiNation.
As the wife of a super busy competitor and trainer it fell to me to organise everything, including travel and shows. Have you ever tried to find stabling for a horse in a country you don't live? Well let me tell you it's difficult, for the rider it's easy, there are applications, for horses nothing! As a trainer, Arif also gets asked for recommendations a lot! In the UAE as well as abroad. 1 question that sticks in my mind is a student of his asking him to find a trainer in UK for her for the summer, near London, Show Jumping and had to have horses she could rent, but there's no go to for that, no where I could go to find out these things and I though you know what there needs to be! I also has many people asking for the best stable to keep their horse or learn to ride and the answer is different for everyone depending on their needs, some people prioritise access to hacking whilst others need a cross country course or full time turn out, and this is where I decided there needs to be a data base for equestrians, so if I need an equine nutritionist for my horse that keeps getting colic or I want to take a holiday with horses in Spain, there is 1 place I can go that has it all, I can type in the exact criteria I'm looking for and simply have all the options in front of me within seconds rather than trawling the internet for hours in hope.
I finalised the idea for an equestrian mobile application in June 2019 but it took many months of development and tweaking of ideas to come up with the app as it is today, it's still not perfect, there are many options which I would like to add or improve in the future but for now it has the sole function of connecting equestrians around the world, helping riders and owners find exactly what they want in the location that they want it, creating 1 Equine Nation, hence the name EquiNation.