This week’s dream
Riding Arabian horses in Oman
I had always dreamed of riding an Arabian horse in Arabia, and I couldn’t have chosen a better setting, said Peter Gwin in National Geographic Traveler. Oman is “nothing short of a geologic wonderland,” and when I finally booked my trip, “I imagined taking horses into the Hajar Mountains and deep into the twisting gorges of Wadi an Nakhur, galloping for miles along Gulf of Oman beaches.” The country’s monarch, I knew, has been working to revive his kingdom’s equestrian culture, and so all felt right when I found myself one morning on a chalk-white stallion, following a guide through the streets of Barka toward the beach beyond. My mount was born to gallop. For a short time, “we found the perfect horse-rider balance and rhythm.” Together we “undulated over the terrain like a dolphin skimming the surface of the ocean.”
“Horse little crazy,” the guide had warned me. But I didn’t expect Scarzo to bolt when he did, nearly trampling a picnicking family. That incident left me shaken. The next day, I declined to ride, instead wandering the souks of Nizwa, a market town where merchants offered me “endless samples” of tea and dates. I also drove into the mountains to Misfat al Abriyin, a village where I wandered a pomegranate grove and wound up at the ruins of a Persian fortress. Just then, a friend texted me, offering to introduce me to a Bedouin breeder. I couldn’t refuse.
Before long I was standing before the most beautiful horses I’d ever seen. They were classic Arabians—not too tall, with wide chests, and tails held high. For hours, I listened to the old breeder’s stories, and when I told him that I’d come to Oman just to ride an Arabian horse, “his eyes seemed to twinkle.” Soon I was meeting a trainer from the sultan’s stables and climbing onto a mare whose traditional Omani saddle was little more than a blanket. The horse and I found a rhythm quickly, but when I looked over to smile at my host, he wasn’t sitting in his saddle. “As his horse galloped at full speed, he stood on its back, his hands raised to the heavens, as though he were riding a magic carpet.”
Oman Horse-Riding Holidays (oman-horseridingholidays.com) offers guided day rides starting at about $300. ■