The Horse Whisperer

, Q&A

Elyas Ebrahim Faraj is the first Bahraini to become an international Arabian horse judge

A pilot by profession and a horse breeder since 2002, Elyas is the first Bahraini to become an Arabian horse judge and a member of the Higher Committee with Bahrain Royal Equestrian & Endurance Federation. He loves the beauty of Arabian horses and is passionate about judging Arabian horses.

What do you look for in an Arabian horse when judging?

Arabian horses are beautiful, elegant and strong. They are truly a work of art. I look for type, head and neck, body and topline, legs and movement of the horse while judging. However, having good taste is also an important aspect of judging.

What about movement, what is that you are looking for?

I consider three gaits of horses — walk, trot and canter — while evaluating. The movement must be free, expressive, in balance and rhythm, animated, elegant, coordinated and moves lightly and easily with good flexion of all joints. A horse’s movement comes from various sources, the hindquarters are its motor or power, the back is the transmission and the forelegs constitute the suspension system. Therefore, the forelegs should move freely with unrestricted shoulder for long stride.

You have been lucky enough to judge in a number of countries and continents. What developments have you seen that you like or are concerned about?

There are more Arabian horse shows taking place now, and the industry is growing significantly. Developments include advancements in technology whereby breeding doesn’t necessarily have to take place within the country. However, I don’t encourage breeding that affects Arabian horse type and conformation.

What is conformation and why is it important?

Conformation is very extensive, but briefly it is the way in which a horse is formed or put together. Conformation is the horse’s body structure, determined by the length, angle, density and size of each bone. When evaluating a horse there are many factors to consider, like breed, breed type, pedigree and how the horse embodies the characteristics of his breed or type. These are important factors, particularly if a horse is a candidate for an athletic career, long years of sound service, or breeding.

What do you feel has been your most rewarding experience as a judge?

My real reward is my contribution to the Arabian horse shows in the Kingdom of Bahrain supported by the Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation headed by H.H. Sh. Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

What horse or horses have you judged that have left the greatest impression on you?

When I was judging in Taif, Saudi Arabia, in December 2014, I came across a breed of horses called the desert breed. I found the horses strong, as they were the real generation of one of the origins of the Arabian horses. Another one was when I was in Belgium judging both colts and fillies of champion stallions.

What is it that differentiates an Arabian horse from others?

The Arabian horse is the oldest light-horse breed and the oldest purebred horse. They have been fostered in desert climate and are versatile to compete in different fields of equestrian sport. They are fine and silky in their coat.

What do you enjoy most about being with Arabian horses?

I enjoy looking at the beauty and delicacy of this creature. It’s a pleasure to watch them.

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