8 November, 2014, Abu Dhabi ~ Some interesting facts and finer details concerned with shaping professional jockeys came to the fore on the opening day of the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak International Conference of Education and Training which got underway at the Anantara Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Friday morning (7 November).
HE Aref Al Awani, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Sports Club, welcomed the participants and wished them the best in their tough mission to face the challenges ahead.
The topics on the opening session included jockey training worldwide and prevention of racing incidents, the jockeys’ high performance athletes at the top, PR and the Media for racing industry requirements, and training and education and arbitration.
The speakers focused on the many schools available to young athletes with training programs that will help them to become horse racing jockeys. Learning from professionals they will have the training and skills required to succeed as well as help with employment.
It was emphasized that physical fitness and stamina are vital, and prospective jockeys must be keenly aware of the injury risks associated with horse racing.
In order to become familiar with horse behaviour, prospective jockeys may start by taking private lessons through a local stable or join a local club. Many students interested in working with horses start at a young age – sometimes as early as six years old. There are several different riding styles typically offered to students, in addition to basic riding skills, riding students often learn aspects of basic horse care and horse behaviour analysis.
Dawn Goodfellow, representing North Racing College, noted that there are number of universities that offer post-graduate certificate, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs in equine science or equine business. These programs may focus more on the business aspect of horse breeding or racetrack management and less on training to be a jockey.
Other speakers included Kai Schirmann, from the German Jockey School; Remi Bellocq, ED of Bluegrass Community & Technical College, Kentucky; Christopher Watson, Director of the Jockey school of Turkey; Mellisssa Weatherley, Careers Advisor, Racing Victoria Ltd.; Ku Sun Kim, GM Korea Jockey Association; and Yasser Mabrouk, Tech Manager, Emirates Racing Association.
Also in attendance, legendary American jockey Chris McCarron, founder of the Kentucky Racing School, said the most important part of horse and rider communication is balance. “Balance cannot be taught,” said McCarron. “If you have balance you can improve the balance. Reducing the degree of hindrance is number two in importance. When you add a human weight the horse will tire more quickly. Stay in perfect rhythem, cadence and balance with the horse.”
Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival and Chairman of Ladies Racing Committee in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) and Chairman of Apprentice Jockeys & Racing in IFAHR said the two-day conference was very important to chalk out the progress of aspiring jockeys.
Sami Al Boenain, chairman of the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities thanked HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs for all the support he’s providing to the Arabian racing community.
“We needed the brilliant vision of HH Sheikh Mansoor and the great imitative of HH Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak to support upcoming jockeys. Such international conferences which attract top experts in different fields of the equine sport give the youngsters more self-confidence and aspiration to realise their dreams and ambitions by developing their skills and talents,” he said.
The conference is organised under the directives of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs as part of the The HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR and Emirates Arabian Horse Society, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare with Arabtec Holding PJSC as the Official Partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers and sponsored by Invest AD, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Rashid Investment, Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2014, Dr. Nader Saab Switzerland, Al Wathba Centre, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel and Racing Post.