Sunday, November 26, 2006

Roadblocks Can't Stop Kazakhstan's Horse Van: Borat Behind the Wheel?

Poor Kazakhstan. Life is imitating art again. (If you can call this film "art"?)

The Asian Equestrian Games are starting December 1 in Doha, where are the Kazak team's horses? This sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit takeoff on the film "Borat", as reported on the Internet.

The cost to fly the horses was not in the budget, and there were issues about visas and quarantines, so they opted to drive...and it took 13 days (six days longer than expected) from their training camp in Germany.

First they drove through Austria to Italy and then by ferry to Greece. Then overland to Turkey (where they had border problems) then on across that huge country to Syria (and more border problems), Jordan, and then across Saudi Arabia to Qatar, a distance of 6700 km.

I would have loved to ride along and written a blog of their day-by-day adventures. But one must wonder: What was the condition of those horses when they stumbled off that truck into the blazing Qatar sun? Let's hope the van was air-conditioned.

The Asian Games are fascinating, and I wish there was more media coverage here in the USA; we might all learn something about how the rest of the world lives (and rides). For instance, equestrian sports are one of the very few events in which women from strict Islamic nations are allowed to compete. Why? Because their bodies are covered, head to toe. Think about it. Iran's women's karate team is boycotting the Games because the rules won't allow them to wear their headscarves in competition.

I'll be cheering for Kazakhstan. There's a good summary of this story on the English-language Chinese site. The Chinese are pumped up for the Asian Games in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, although the equestrian events will be held in hot, steamy Hong Kong instead of Beijing...and they may also be monitoring the equestrian transport issue as more and more countries in Asia are competing at the FEI level and must figure out how to get their horses to Hong Kong (and have them be healthy enough to compete).

Hopefully the Kazaks won't have to drive there...just think if they received some small portion of the profits from that movie!