We spoke with a resident who has a penchant for horses. She's been living in Doha for nearly a decade and her family runs a restaurant on the Pearl called Casa Paco. Meet Cyrine Cherif, a French horse show jumper with 20 years of experience and currently teaching at Al Shaqab. Her most recent win was in February 2021 at the Emir Cup.
How did you get involved in horse show jumping?
I started at 8 years old and I was so passionate about horses. When I started jumping I was so excited about it, I knew right away it was what I wanted to do. I started competing at 9 or 10 years old. I have been riding ever since.
How many awards have you won? What is your most memorable?
I have been fortunate to win a number of times, but not enough either! However, in our sport we are only as good as the horses we ride, so I must say it’s also thanks to my horses. I would say my most memorable wins were this year and in 2019 for the Emir Cup.
In 2019 I was riding Gerlin Vd Waterkant and was happy for my horse cause he deserves it so much. In 2021, I rode Brennus Villelongue. I’m also happy I could win again with another horse this year. Both were a meaningful victories because there are stories with each horse. I just believe it’s the result of the hard work we have put in consistently. When horse and rider give it a 100% sometimes it works out well.
What advice would you give to people interested in the sport?
If you are interested in this sport, you need to make sure you surround yourself with the right trainers and facilities no matter your level. Also, it is important to be passionate about the horses and not just the sport because that is the fundamental basis of this sport.
Can people come and see the horses?
Yes, people can come and see the horses. They can book a tour with Al Shaqab and visit the world-class facilities and the horses.
You can follow @alshaqab on instagram and find a lot more information there.
See a first person view of what's it looks like in the clip below...
What do you like about living in Qatar?
There are so many reasons why I love living in Qatar and I don’t think I can list them all here!
Let’s say first, because of the multi-cultural atmosphere. Over the years I have met so many different people from all over the world. This opens your mind so much to all the different cultures in our world.
I also love Doha because it is an active city and has a small town feel at the same time. There are so many things to do and yet Doha is not too big or too crowded compared to other big capitals in the world.
I also enjoy that Doha is a very sports-oriented city. We have so many events throughout the year and you can feel the impact of the country investing in sports education. This makes it a really exciting and vibrant.
What do people generally get wrong about horses? What would you like people to know?
A lot of people think that horse riding is not a sport and that the "horse is doing most of the job," but I think people would be surprised if they actually try riding. It is a very difficult sport in terms of fitness, technique and skill. It takes years of practices to make it look easy!
How can people get involved in riding in Qatar?
They can go to Al Shaqab or Qatar Equestrian Federation. Al Samariya and Lusail also have riding schools. There are also many different farms that are opening riding schools at the moment. You can all find them on instagram.
What tips would you give to a new rider?
Three things are key: 1) take your time to learn the proper basics of horse riding, 2) don’t rush into things if you are not ready and 3) learn to be close to your horses.
How can people get in touch or follow you?
You can also follow the show jumping blog where I give tips and exercises for riders @theshowjumpingblog