While women seem to make up a
slight majority of the horse-obsessed in the western world, they don’t always have the same access elsewhere. The Middle East has one of the oldest equestrian cultures in the world, and one which often excludes women. The Yemen Observer reports that one woman is trying to change that: Ahlam al-Sayaghi has long dreamed of becoming a professional horserider. Yet it has been a struggle to realize these dreams in Yemen, where women have been banned from many equestrian contests. “Why does a sport like horseback riding have to be reserved to men in Yemen?” she said.
“It cannot be that it is so hard that only men can practice it. It is an easy sport, in which you only deal with the horse. People in Yemen believe it to be a males’ sport. ‘Riders are only men,’ they say.” But al-Sayaghi is trying to change this idea, by becoming the first competitive horsewoman in Yemen. She was allowed to compete in the Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmer Championship held in 2005, in which she was the only horsewoman and won the second prize. She expected to compete in the recent Presidential Championship competition, but she was excluded three days before it on account of her gender. Link