x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

UAE horsemaster to show the Aussies just how it's done

The UAE's Ali Al Ameri is said to be the first Arab horseman at Equitana, where his classes in horse training are eagerly anticipated.

Ali Al Ameri, the Emirati horsemaster, with his horses. He will be judging and showcasing his skills at the Equitana in Melbourne November 15-18.
Ali Al Ameri, the Emirati horsemaster, with his horses. He will be judging and showcasing his skills at the Equitana in Melbourne November 15-18.

The love of horses shared by the UAE and Australia will ensure Ali Al Ameri is given the warmest of welcomes at one of the largest equine events in the southern hemisphere, the Equitana.

The UAE's own horsemaster is claimed to be the first Arab horseman at the annual event, to be held in Melbourne next month.

Equitana is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors to see Olympic gold medal-winning riders, world-renowned horse educators and Aussie cowboys.

"A lot of people are excited to see Ali's talents at the event," says his long-time friend and Australian horse trainer Heath Harris, who will be holding his own horse-training clinics at the event.

"People love Arabian horses in Australia and will be looking forward to seeing Ali's work with them. I have worked with many people and Ali is a natural horseman - he has it."

Mr Al Ameri will demonstrate and teach his skills in training problem horses, training horses for film and displaying his riding skills.

He will also be one of the judges for a contest dubbed "The Way of the Horse, which will pit horse trainers against each other to see how well they can train a wild, "untouched" horse in three days.

"What they will do in three days with an untrained horse, I can achieve in one hour," says the confident Mr Al Ameri.

He has become internationally renowned in equestrian circles, although his beginnings are humble.

Mr Al Ameri was born about 1964 in Al Ain.

"We were born away from hospitals and doctors so no one knows the exact year," he says.

From his childhood he was surrounded by animals in the desert, such as camels and goats, which his family relied on for food, transport and entertainment.

"We didn't grow up with PlayStation, Nintendo … had no computers or iPads," Mr Al Ameri says.

Instead, they relied on the camels for fun. "We would sneak up on them, jump on their backs and ride them until they bucked us off or got tired and stopped."

Mr Al Ameri transferred his camel skills to horses after he moved to Abu Dhabi.

"I would sneak away from school to go into the Royal Stables so I could be around the horses," he says.

He dropped out of school in Year 9 and started working at the stables, where he broke in horses and showjumped.

Mr Al Ameri then travelled extensively, training and honing his horse skills in South and Central America, Europe and Australia.

"I would take a 45-day holiday from work and not come back for six months. I would, of course, get into trouble but would always work it out in the end," he recalls.

Of all the places he travelled, he fell in love with Australia the most. "It's my second home and I've covered it all - north, south, east and west.

"It's rough, very rough, and wherever you go you find countryside. If you're not tough enough, you wouldn't do it. It's not a place for a soft city boy."

Among the more robust activities Mr Al Ameri has enjoyed in Australia is catching brumbies, the feral, wild-spirited horses that freely roam the Outback.

"I was the first to bring brumbies to the UAE and train them here," he says.

Mr Al Ameri, who has travelled to Australia since the 1980s, has a lot of equestrian enthusiasts excited about his next visit.

Mr Harris, who has worked in several horse disciplines for more than 40 years, says: "Ali has a lot to offer in a field that is an art, a craft, as well as a profession."

Equitana will take place at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds from November 15 to 18.