Equestrian sport has grown fast in the past year, record ing 186 riders - 17 men and 179 women. This is despite the funding challenges the sport experiences, according to the secretary general of the Namibia Equestrian Federation, Gigi Mathias. “Since it was introduced as far back as 1950, the sport has grown very fast. We have many clubs and riders registered with the federation.
“We host a lot of competitions annually whereby each club organises competitions for riders,” she said, urging other especially men to join clubs. “Competitions are sponsored by various corporate companies and individuals,” Mathias said. She added that the sports code faces challenges such as lack of funding to make it accessible to a bigger platform of people. The Villager understands that lack of understanding of what the sport entail and the fact that horses are living creatures needs attention and a lot of care are also challenges the sport of Equestrian faces.
“It is a passion and a lifestyle and the advantages of the sport to the younger generation is often misunderstood and daunting as it does not take a lot of time to grow and achieve results. “There is no immediate result it takes dedication and discipline. We promote excellence in our sport with emphasis on integrity, team work and fait play.
“Our vision is to see Equestrian sport enjoyed by all sectors of the Namibian community and to have Namibia represented at International events by competent sportsmanship,” Mathias said. She further added that NAMEF is afﬁ liated with the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), and due to budget cuts the NSC does not fund events hosted by the NAMEF. NAMEF’s main objective is to facilitate and support an environment where Equestrian athletes can thrive and enjoy the sport at all levels. Riders participate on various platforms mostly in South Africa, Egypt, Botswana, and Zimbabwe and there is currently no endurance team who are aspiring to try and qualify for the World Equestrian games in Tyron next year.
Further aspiring is the junior show riders to qualify for All Africa games to be hosted by Algeria in 2018 and the Youth Olympics games to be hosted Buenos Aires next year. The qualiﬁ cations for these events are the three World Jumping Challenges to be held here in Namibia. The Villager understands that there are currently 14 registered clubs in Namibia that host graded shows on an annual basis.
In all equestrian sports the interest of the horse are considered paramount, and the wellbeing of the hose are expected to be above the demands of the riders, breeders, trainers, owners, dealers, organisers, sponsors or ofﬁ cials. All handling and veterinary treatment are ensured to make of the health and welfare of the horses.