“Horses are an element of community development” – this was the slogan of the International Horse Festival in El Jadida in Morocco, under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. It also included the 13th edition of the Salon Du Cheval in El Jadida, held on October 19-20th.
The show returned after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, and the organizers made sure that it was an event that would continue the successes and achievements of previous years. The title conference that accompanied the horse shows, as well as an exposition organized on a grand scale in the educational pavilion, focused on showing the cultural relations of Moroccans with the horse. The use of horses was exhibited in various religious, family and national celebrations, as well as in ceremonies organized at the end of agricultural seasons or state celebrations. The whole exhibition and conference were aimed at showing the great cultural value of horses generating various social and economic activities. It was very eloquently emphasized that the horse and its use are related to social and economic development, and efforts were made to show various examples of this throughout, with the panache and great taste, the entire event.
The organizers emphasized that the aim of the event is to promote the breeding and equestrian sector at the national level, and therefore prepared a rich and varied program including the characteristic Tbourida matches, Arabian Horse Show (ECAHO A rank), the Berber Horse Cup, the Arab-Berber Horse Cup, and the equestrian finals of the Moroccan Royal League and competitions for children. In addition, the exhibition hall hosted many recreational, art and sports activities, as well as an integrated program to promote equestrianism. Educational and entertainment workshops for the public were also organized, the aim of which was to learn about Moroccan cultural heritage related to horses. During the day, as well as in the evening, there were shows of various equestrian arts with the participation of top-class competitors. The organizing committee indicated that the main emphasis of the event was to hold cultural and scientific seminars, necessary for the exchange of experiences among researchers, scientists, students as well as those interested in horse riding.
Dr. Habib Marzaq, representative of the Salon Du Cheval, confirmed that the exhibition is under the special care of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Dr. Marzaq concluded: – Today the Festival is an international event that highlights the great interest of Moroccans in horses, an interest embodied in scientific, cultural and professional work offered by the public and private sectors. Hundreds of people and equestrian enthusiasts use a huge number of Berber, Arabian and English horses and benefit from it innumerable amounts.
Dr Marzaq added: – Morocco’s intense international presence in sports, scientific, cultural and breeding activities is a rich space for the exchange of experiences and documenting relationships between people who are united by the love of the horse of this noble creature who has accompanied man through all stages of civilization and still loyally serves us in many economic, social, cultural and sporting practices.
Arabian horses in the shadow of Tbourida
We treated the invitation for polskiearaby.com as a great honor, but at the same time we focused on the A ECAHO show, which, in our opinion, was the goal of the entire event. It turned out to be nothing more wrong. Already on the spot in the modern exhibition center, we realized that it is a multidimensional event, and for the older visitors of the Salon Du Cheval in Paris, exactly like the one that took place long ago in Paris. The organizers’ focus on cultural accents was very clear. In this beautiful exhibition, the Arabian A-class horse show was only part of a much larger whole. The beautiful catalog, published in an electronic version, that is to be downloaded online, included 136 horses that performed in 10 classes divided into three age categories for mares and stallions. The classes were numerous. Often the collective ring saw 12-14 horses in a circle, which gave the audience a lot of emotions, as the competition for the championship qualification was quite difficult. The level of the horses featured in the show was quite varied, although it was interesting that not many horses were known from other shows and had won everything, anywhere. It was quite refreshing for the eye of the potential viewer. In the yearling classes, there were mainly horses from Moroccan and French breeding and a few horses purchased from recognized studs in the UAE. The pedigrees varied wide from the well-known stallion Marajj through Gazal Al Shaqab, Kahil Al Shaqab, RFI Farid, WH Justice, Zeus E.A. to the Polish stallion Petrarca bred by Parys Ltd. All this, mixed with local stars with a lot of Egyptian blood, required a lot of attention from the judges and the audience.
The hosts triumphed in the yearling classes, which brought the organizers, breeders and owners a lot of joy. The youth classes were shared between Ajman Stud, Dubai Stud and Al Arym Arabians all representing the UAE.
Among the senior stallions was the aforementioned Petrarca 2014 by Kahil Al Shaqab out of Poezja by Enzo, who took fourth place in class, but interestingly, his daughter, Ferdaws ME from a Moroccan breeder, qualified for the junior mare championship, and earlier a charming chestnut also appeared, Rihabe, also by Petrarca in the yearling fillies class.
Another Polish accent was Sharada Evopegasus (FR) daughter of the stallion Poganin bred and owned by Mr. Mirosław Rogowski, who breeds Arabian horses both in Poland and in France, where he lives permanently. The show featured several descendants of Emandoria’s son, Emerald J, with the most excitement stirred by the well-known and decorated Admiral (GB), owned by Ajman Stud, who in the end won the silver medal.
Among the senior mares there was the 20-year-old Złotnica by Ekstern out of Zguba bred by Michałów Stud and Janów’s Eteria 2002 by Ekstern out of Etezja and Navona 2007 by Ekstern out of Nife, both very nice and in good shape. In subsequent classes, one could closely observe the progeny of such Polish stallions as Emfatyk, Espekt and Fuerte. All this shows that good-class Polish stallions, both state and private, promoted in an appropriate way can find a place for themselves in the world of breeding and, through successful offspring, become ambassadors of the Polish Arabian horse.
Tbourida, Moroccan cultural heritage in practice
When the emotions of the Arab show have subsided, it was time to explore the next exhibitions and shows. The famous Moroccan Tbourida caused the astonishment of the representatives of the polskiearaby.com portal. This time, the games of this traditional equestrian ritual were crowned with league games as part of His Majesty’s King Mohammad VI’s Grand Prize. Tbourida is an extremely exciting, suggestive and certainly chilling event. The importance of Tbourida to the history and culture of Morocco has been recognized by UNESCO as a heritage of this country that should be protected.
Tbourida, derived from the word Baroud, which means “gunpowder”, is an ancient equestrian art dating back to the 16th century. It is an equestrian performance that simulates successive military parades, reconstructed according to the conventions and rituals of Arab-Bedouin ancestors.
Each parade of Tbourida is performed by a squad called “Sorba”, consisting of an odd number of riders and horses (from 15 to 25) lined up in a row, in the center of which stands the leader, the chief of the “Mokaddem” tribe with his mount. The horses found in Tbourida are mainly Berber horses from local breeding, mainly black with a small amount of gray and a few chestnuts. The performance consists of two parts, the first is called hadda or the salute in which the riders perform acrobatic exercises while riding back to their initial state. The second stage is Talqa, when the whole group starts at a gallop and loud blasts from hand-decorated rifles impress the audience. From generation to generation, Tbourida maintains a strong spiritual dimension, especially because it places the horse, the holy animal of Islam, at the center of a breathtakingly impressive spectacle.
Tbourida (fantasy) dazzles Moroccan and international audiences. It is associated with agricultural festivals and many national and family celebrations. Europeans often refer to it as “Fantasy”, a Latin name meaning entertainment. The competition was held with full stands, which could hardly be accessed. The arena where the performance was played was the size of a standard parcour, except that there was a white line at the end of one short wall. At a distance of about 10 meters, five judges were seated, as is the case in dressage competitions, and judged the precision of each team’s performance.
The task of the riders, in this case there were 15 of them, i.e. 14 and the commander in charge, was to perform a maneuver simulating a charge, fire on command and stop the horses in formation to the position of stand on the white line. The ride took place along a long wall of the arena, measuring approximately 150 by 40 meters. On both sides there were tightly placed stands and tents, and in front of the places where the riders shot the VIP sector. The show was extremely effective, each unit played in different colors, rode different horses and presented a slightly different level of training. The team in white and green colors received the most applause and their rides were extremely exciting. After each successful shot, and it is not easy to fire an even volley of 15 shotguns from a horse at full gallop, the audience rewarded the rider with thunderous applause.
All this together gave the impression that we had suddenly traveled hundreds of years back and participated in a knightly tournament. Tbourida, considered by the Moroccans as an intangible cultural heritage, is protected and supported by King Mohammed VI as an important element of the nation’s identity. An identity based on strong ties with nature, an inseparable element of which is the horse, in this case, a purebred Arabian and Berber horse. The state’s visible support for maintaining and cultivating our own cultural traditions inspires deep respect in us.
Full results of the classes and the Championships: