I worked at three different Riding Clubs while in Egypt. The first was in 2011 for a Show Jumping Stables. I was a Riding Instructor, a Barn Manager for the Showjumping Stables, as well as riding 5 or so horses every day. I would receive jumping lessons from the-at the time-FEI Level II Showjumping Coach and club owner and I worked in exchange for a free place to live at the stables as well as a very tiny stipend to cover my food and expenses while in Cairo.
I had about 40 horses at this riding stables and 7 grooms in total which needed to be managed. I spent my mornings riding the horses and schooling the lesson horses as well as lunging and managing the groom working with my assigned horses in the show barn. I worked at this riding club for nearly a year and learned to speak Egyptian Arabic during this time. It was a great learning experience, both as an equestrian professional and to satisfy my curiosity about the Arabic culture. My students were both expatriates and Egyptians, male and female and I made many friends. I was surprised how polite and respectful my students were and I enjoyed the special treatment and sweets they would bring me.
The second job I had in Egypt was years later, in 2015 at a Show Jumping stables as the manager and head Coach and trainer. I had a variety of students (roughly 70+) that ranged from small children to Elementary Dressage and Show Jumping up to 1.20 meters. (This later on helped me with my Level II FEI Coaching Certification as I had gotten acclimated to giving my FEI curriculum based lessons at this level.)
My third job in Cairo was at a newly developing Polo Club. They had been organizing polo tournaments within their own community (There were only 4 Teams in the entire country) and I was in charge of getting new students and aspiring polo players as well as organizing the current polo events (which had been private up until that point) and making it develop into a proper riding club for new students. I implemented legal liability forms, the school’s official riding curriculum, gave beginner polo lessons, trained under a 7-Goaler from South Africa, and schooled young horses into becoming future polo ponies as well as kept the current polo ponies schooled and well trained for the customers. We had Argentinian horses imported regularly and I had to help take the horses out each morning for their workout in the desert—each of the five grooms and myself would pony 2-4 horses on these hour long desert rides. Then in the evening if there were no club chukkers I would help ride and school the horses to keep them fit and trained for the clients and owners.
It was a year of learning for me, as I was new to the sport of Kings, however, having already worked in 13 different countries as a professional manager, coach, trainer and rider, my skills came into good use and I was able to incorporate my Show Jumping and Dressage style with the polo community. After all, riding is riding. Being a very balanced rider allowed me to play polo with the men (as I was more often than not one of the only women playing) and was pitted against the high goal players with fast horses and a surplus of testosterone. It was exhilarating to ride them off and keep these macho men from scoring!
My three different jobs led me to three different experiences and I am thankful for each of them, though I have to admit that after two years in this crazy country, working as a single, blonde woman in command of a male-dominated staff and clientele, I was happy after my two years in Egypt to return to Westernization!