HomeCover StoryWAHO LIVE! Jordan 2022

WAHO LIVE! Jordan 2022

The 2022 WAHO Conference takes place in Amman, Jordan, between 8-18 October. With our coverage kindly sponsored by Al Dawla Stud, The Arabian Magazine will be there to bring you all the news as it happens, as well as videos, photographs, and a taste of the wonderful experience that is WAHO. Check back daily for new content, and don’t forget to follow us on our social media for the very latest news (Facebook & Instagram)!

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TUESDAY 18 OCTOBER 2022
09.47: The final word
As I hope this coverage, so kindly sponsored by Al Dawla Arabians, shows, WAHO is an amazing experience. Those who come on these Conferences do so without ego; it is not about one upmanship, but rather a coming together of those who genuinely care about the Arabian horse. It is also a chance to explore the country hosting the Conference, see the horses being bred in that country, and have a truly unique experience like no other.

WAHO does need younger members; like all communities, it needs to look to the future. And while the idea of listening to Registry Reports can sound dry, they are very interesting with lots of stats and information about what each country is doing with the Arabian horse, and how they are engaging their community with the breed.

We are all aware that there are less breeders right now than before, and that there are challenging times ahead for many of us. However, WAHO brings something more to the lives of those who belong – a shared sense of determination to preserve the Arabian horse for the future and keep it safe from exploitation, all while enjoying international company and creating memories to last a lifetime along the way. You can join WAHO here.

As for Jordan… This a country that has remarkable history and it is only when travelling the length and breadth of Jordan that you appreciate just how remarkable it is. It is bordered by Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, with Egypt also within touching distance. Add in the rich history of this land, much of which was preserved under the British Mandate, and the fact the country is home to six World Heritage Sites, and you truly have an amazing country that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The tour company who put together the experiences we have enjoyed is Travellers International and they are thoroughly recommended.

And that is it! My last post. If you have enjoyed reading it, then I would ask you donate to Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife. You can do so here – please mention TAM/WAHO in your donation note.

Thank you to all who have contacted me privately and shared these posts on social media, as well as our sponsors, Al Dawla Arabians. See you next time – WAHO Abu Dhabi 2025!


The group at Al Ma’wa

09.20: Well, WAHO is over for another year. Yesterday evening was our last night together, and we spent it at the Panoramic Restaurant overlooking the night skies over the Dead Sea towards Jerusalem. But first, a recap…

Yesterday morning, we were able to enjoy some free time in Aqaba – for most, that meant a swim in the Red Sea or the pools at the hotel, plus catching up on sleep. The last five days has seen us move around much of Jordan, with one night in each place, so it was good to pause for a moment to catch our breath and reflect. Then, it was all onto the bus once more, with a whistle stop tour of Aqaba with Mohammed.

The first stop was Aqaba Fort, dating back to the Mamluks in the early 1500s and providing a base for overthrowing the Ottoman Empire. Originally on the pilgrims route to Mecca, the fort was used as a military base during the Arab Revolt. Again, if these walls could talk…


We then stopped at Ayla, an Islamic city uncovered during hotel development in Aqaba. Just the ruins remain, with Ayla being built around 650 AD. Artifacts found at the site show that Ayla had contact with Ethiopia, the Far East, and parts of the Indian Ocean, although most trade was done through the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. What was a planned hotel site is now a tribute to the past – something that Jordan does well, as this is a country that sees the value in preserving its heritage above all else.


Our tour guide, Mohammed

There was just time to stop at the souk and gather some fresh spices and then it was time to leave the tropical oasis of Aqaba and head north to the Dead Sea. The plan was to get there for sunset, but we just ran out of time so stopped on the side of the road to capture the last sun of WAHO 2022 setting across the Dead Sea into Israel. It was a beautiful sight, and I did a super zoom to capture this shot.

Dinner was, as mentioned, at the Panoramic Restaurant, where you could see the lights of Jerusalem twinkling across the water. It was a perfect end to the trip, and we all then returned to the Crowne Plaza at the Dead Sea for our final night. Here, it was time for hugs and goodbyes; the majority of us won’t see each other again until WAHO Abu Dhabi 2025 and of course, nothing can be taken for granted. Goodnight Jordan, and thank you.

SUNDAY 16 OCTOBER 2022
16.53:
Today, it is hello from Aqaba! Located on the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba gives Jordan its only coast and I have always wanted to visit here. So far, I am not disappointed at all – but first, a recap.

Friday night was spent at the very newly opened Petra Moon Luxury Hotel. While the smell of fresh paint still lingered, there was a lot to enjoy about this hotel – not least it offering the best food of the trip so far in my MasterChef opinion! Catering for masses is never easy, but the variety of food on offer at this hotel ticked the boxes for many people.

We left Petra bright and early and headed to Little Petra – or Siq al-Barid, which means ‘cold canyon’. Our brilliant guide, Mohammed, who has been full of great insight into the history of Jordan since our arrival, talked us through the different parts of the site.

After the frenetic activity of Petra the day before, Little Petra was a haven of bliss. There was time to see all the monuments and find out more about this entrance to Petra itself, built around the 1st century AD. With its high sides, Temples and caves, there are so many similarities to the main Nabatean city, but here I found a peace and soulfulness – similar to the first time I visited Petra itself back in 2008. The world has changed so much since the, and Little Petra stirred my soul.

There is something so remarkable about these ancient ruins, they really do sing to you. I didn’t however, make it all the way through Little Petra, as something else sang to me instead…

We then drove to Wadi Rum, with the landscape changing as we neared the ‘Valley of the Moon’. Wadi Rum is a protected area covering 720 square kilometres of desert wilderness. Famed for Laurence of Arabia, this vast desert and mountain landscape was on many peoples’ bucket list.


The iconic Seven Pillars of Wisdom in Wadi Rum

The group was split into two, and our group stayed at Rum Oasis – Rum for Wadi Rum, not for a pirate’s favourite tipple – and many of us had the experience of staying in a bubble tent, which was up an incredibly steep slope that had even the fittest among us struggling!


The bubble tents

Having had lunch, we then went on a two-hour 4×4 race across the desert, with some choosing to go on a camel or horseback ride instead. The 4×4 were great fun, although we did find Wadi Rum to be incredibly busy; Mohammed said that we are travelling during peak season and after the lockdowns, people are making the most of getting out and about again.


Racing through the desert


A caravan of camels in Wadi Rum

Having made a number of stops, and learning more about the rocks and landscape, we all raced to catch the sunset. A hazy day, it wasn’t the best we have seen, but it was certainly magical to watch the sun set on such a landscape.


It was back to the bubble pods and then to the camp next door for a traditional Bedouin dinner, cooked in the ground. I have to say that the lamb was among the best I have ever had!

There was just time to sit out on the balcony outside the pod and stargaze before turning in for a night in the Arabian desert – almost! I have to say, Wadi Rum was breathtaking in terms of all that it is, but I already feel the need to return, out of season and when things are quieter, so I can truly appreciate the vast, bold scale of this UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Today saw us leave the desert behind to head to the coastal town of Aqaba, which is where I am writing from now. Having arrived, the majority of us headed out on a two-hour boat cruise on the Red Sea aboard the White Prince.


The Red Sea is a semi-enclosed inlet of the Indian Ocean between the continents of Africa from Asia. It borders Jordan, Israel – which we could clearly see across the waters – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

The highlight of the tour was when we moved boats mid-sea, to a glass-bottomed boat enabling us to see the coral that can be found close to shore. It was hard to capture through a thick wall of glass, but this images gives you an idea of what we saw…

It was then all aboard the White Prince for people to go swimming and snorkeling, while a barbeque lunch was prepared onboard.

Aqaba is a city that dates back to pre-Biblical times, and we will be exploring it tomorrow before we head to the final stop on this WAHO post-conference tour, the Dead Sea. After the dry desert of the last few days, Aqaba is a positive oasis, and I am looking forward to a relaxed evening here. I definitely have a room with a view, even for one night, and with a late check-out tomorrow morning, tonight will be a chance to relax and is the first proper down-time we will have had since we left England.

The sun is already beginning to set while I write this, so I think it is time for me to share one last photo from today, and then go and catch up with my fellow international WAHO family. More from the Dead Sea tomorrow, time allowing, and then we will disband once more, Masha’allah all reuniting again in Abu Dhabi February 2025 for the next WAHO Conference.

FRIDAY 14 OCTOBER 2022
17.17: 
Well, hello from Petra! It has been amazing to see so much of Jordan today, a reminder of how much I love this country.

Last night was the Gala Dinner, held at The Four Seasons, where we were treated to Royal Jordanian Dance Troup and Circassian dancing, plus traditional dancing from Palestine and Armenia. It was so lovely to see the different styles, and also performed with such grace and, well, happiness! It was infectious, and made our last night as the WAHO family memorable.

This morning, we were up early for the journey to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Petra. This ancient city dates back to the fourth century BC. Located 150 miles south of Amman and Jerusalem, as well as being midway between Damascus, Syrian, and the Red Sea, it was an ideal hub for commerce at that time. Petra was on the King’s Highway, but then when the Romans came in 106 AD to Jordan, they were jealous of the success of Petra and set up the Desert Highway, making that the main road through and shutting off the water supply to the Nabateans – the ancient Arab people who discovered Petra and made it what it was – resulting in their surrender. By the eight century, Petra was largely abandoned.

‘The Lost City’ is so incredibly special and while I have been here before, revisiting it again is special. We stopped for to take shots of the panoramic view with Petra hidden within; the only way to see the famed Treasury is to walk the 2km down to the old city and there the magic awaits you.


The view to Petra


The Treasury, known around the world for being in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Petra was very busy, much more so than my last time here, and I love this rose-red city as much as ever. Tomorrow, however, is a bucket-list visit for me – going to Wadi Rum. I have always wanted to go here and see the stars, sleeping out in the desert and enjoying a traditionally cooked Bedouin meal.


Camels by The Treasury

Now, it is time for a chilled lemon with mint as the sun goes down over the ancient capital of the Nabataean Empire. If the stones could only talk, and whisper to us the secrets from a life no longer lived…

THURSDAY 13 OCTOBER 2022
15.53: It is hard to believe it is a week since we left for Jordan – we have packed a lot in, and are just back from the most amazing few hours at The Royal Stables, seeing the horses of HRH Princess Alia  First, though, a bit about last night.

We went to Al Jeel Al-Jadeed Club, which was estabished in 1950 and is an artistic, social, cultural, and sport club that aims to preserve the ancient Circassian heritage and traditions. These were refugees who arrived in Jordan in the late 19th century, and they are known especially for their dance – I suggest you watch this clip from the cultural festival held earlier this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jeel Club Circassian Dance Troupe.

As well as dancing, we were shown native costumes, and artifacts including a saddle from 1885, owned by The Royal Stables and used by the Circassian Honour Guard of His Majesty King Abdullah I at the beginning of the establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It was amazing to see.

The dinner included Circassian specialities, and it was a very fun evening filled with lots of laughter, music, and dance!

Today thus far has all been about The Royal Stables, which was hit by fire in June this year, as HRH Prince Rashid told us on Tuesday. You can watch a video clip here. All the horses were absolutely fine, but you could see the damage done to the grounds as we arrived at the Stables.

There will be a full write up of this event in The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine Collectors’ Edition, out next month, so I don’t want to say too much here. However, I will say that all horses were shown by strain and in family groups, also saying which tribe they came from. We saw the relations of the seven foundation strains, plus one group that came from France in 1993. As an absolute treat, we also sat Hlayyil Ramadan (Kamar el Zaman x Haboub), who is now 26 years young and absolutely loved the fuss and carrots he received. I also saw the mare Hhoor (Monarcos DD x Hasanaat al Haneefah), who I had first seen at The Royal Stables as a foal and who took everyone’s breath away. She was presented today, and she is now totally white, and utterly beautiful.

Lunch was served overlooking the show arena, which is also where the Middle East Championships is held, and a group of mares were turned loose in the ring for us to admire while we enjoyed the wonderful Jordanian hospitality. A magical afternoon indeed.

For now, however, I need to pack as tonight is the Gala Dinner, and then we leave at 7am to go on Tour A, the post-conference tour. 67 of us are going on this, so the WAHO fun will continue!

Hhoor
Hhoor

Hlayyil Ramadan
Hlayyil Ramadan


Our view for lunch!

WEDNESDAY 12 OCTOBER 2022
17.40:
The Conference is formally closed.

17.34:
Peter is now closing the Conference with thanks to everyone involved, starting with HRH Princess Alia and the amazing Conference team.

With more thanks, to too many to mention, it is back to the hotel to get ready for tonight’s event. Tomorrow, is The Royal Stables, which will be a true highlight for many.

While the Conference is over, there is still a lot more to come from the WAHO experience: The Royal Stables and Gala Dinner tomorrow, and then the magical Tour A that so many of us are going on, which will take in The Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and more. So do keep checking back for more updates as WAHO 2022 isn’t over yet!

17.32: The next Conference will be in February 2025. This will tie in with the UAE Championships, no doubt.

17.30: I called this back in February when I saw Peter Pond on the livestream at the UAE International Championships. I love Abu Dhabi, and it will be wonderful to meet there in two years with the WAHO family – VERY exciting!

17.28: AND THE NEXT CONFERENCE WILL BE IN….

ABU DHABI – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

17.26:

All three talks linked together perfectly under the one title. I must share this old Bedouin saying:

Never lie to a horse.

And with that, the talks are over.

17.08: That was absolutely fascinating from Deirdre – don’t worry, we will be sharing the content just as soon as we can! Astrid is now on the last talk of the day, and then it will be the announcement of where we meet next.

16.15: Deirdre is now taking to the stage for her part of the Preserving our Heritage talk. Her section is titled Royal Stables and State Studs in the Middle East Past Present, and Future – A Brief Study. This is going to be good.

16.13: We are starting the final session of the Conference again – but meanwhile, here is a photo of Kina receiving her gift from Princess Alia.


Credit Carola Kugler

15.41: That was an incredible talk by Gudrun – so much information in there! I am now in love with the stallion Gazal XX in Romania, and Gudrun’s closing words were so powerful:

A reason for State Studs to continue is that people have a right to participate in the history of their country.

Amen.

14.38: Time for the final talk of the Conference, Preserving our Heritage, starting with Gudrun Waiditschka. I think the whole room is looking forward to this talk.

14.37: Princess Alia just gave Kina a present not as today is her birthday but also in recognition for all that she does for WAHO. Very well deserved.

14.36: Peter P thanks Peter U for the talk, and our appetites are truly whetted for our visit to The Royal Stables tomorrow.

14.32: This is fascinating, and I just cannot do Peter’s talk justice here. However, he is giving a full history of The Royal Stables, from the seven foundation mares and five foundation stallions through to today.

The talk was so insightful and illustrated with not only archive photography but also Peter’s amazing paintings. Peter was as brilliant as ever, thank you.

14.12: The first show in the Middle East was held in Jordan in 1987. It was called The Arab Horse at Home.

14.09: Peter gets a round of applause just for being here! It is always a treat to spend time with Peter and to hear him talk. He is a wonderful mix of humour and knowledge.

His talk is called Warhorse to Showhorse – and here is Peter with his son, Simon.

Peter Upton WAHO Jordan


14.06:
We are back and ready to go. This afternoon is two talks, and then we find out where the WAHO family will meet again in 2004.

First up is Peter Upton – Royal Heritage: The Royal Jordanian Stud.

12.27: The floor is open to questions in general, and the loudest applause of the day goes to Kina Murray as we all sing Happy Birthday to her! It was Jaroslav who spilled the beans…

With no other general questions, we now break for lunch.

12.26: Peter thanks Russell for his talk and the audience for their intelligent questioning.

12.25: There is also an interesting question about data protection/GDPR for owners etc, which is something Weatherbys are very aware of.

12.11: The epassport will not replace the paper document for the moment as currently, EU legislation is that the paper passport has to be with the horse at all times. This is all about moving the future and being prepared.

12.06: The GPS will work through your mobile phone – you scan the microchip through bluetooth.

12.03: Russell has now finished his talk and the floor is now open for questions.

11.59: The epassport will include full identification, including microchip and markings; vaccination status, both historical and new; GPS movement; and a vet can be assigned to the account. There is more, but these are the main notes. Russell said that there was a positive discussion with the Registrars early this week about the epassports. I guess within the next two years, we will know more.

11.49: Data and process integrity is key – they have found that passports have been tampered with, such as replacing pages that don’t have the watermarks and holograms or amending the markings on the horse – thus enabling horses to enter the food chain that shouldn’t. Going digital makes this much more difficult to do.

11.45: Factoid – the first General Stud Book (GSB) was published by Weatherbys in 1791. They celebrated their 250th anniversary in 2020.

11.43: Russell will cover Weatherbys; integrity benefits of going digital; stud book digitisation; Weatherbys epassport; the power of data; and DNA parentage verification.

11.38: After an extended break, we now begin with the guest speakers. We will start with Russell, who works for Weatherbys, and he has already presented to the Registrars. He is reprising the talk he did to them for us today. His will be the only presentation before lunch.

10.25: Peter shares what the EC has done on the last years, including looking to create an established house for WAHO. He thanks Kina and Jo for all the work they do for WAHO on an ongoing basis. The house, and the online stud books are the main priorities for the next two years. And now, we break for coffee.

10.21: Peter explains he has been in talks about helping getting many of the smaller countries online with their stud book/database. This will be a focus over the next two or three years.

10.20: The discussion for the last few minutes has been on the possible creation of a WAHO database – a huge task and again, there are no clear answers.

10.12: That concludes the Registrars’ Report.

09.56: First is discussion about embryo transfer, with each registrar asked to say whether or not they currently allow the registration of an unlimited number of ET foals per year.

25% of registered foals in Belgium last year were from ET.

Jordan does not allow multiple ET, Lithuania and Turkey do not allow ET.

Poland allow one ET – only from a purebred Arab mare. And France has a new rule from 2021 – only one natural and one ET, for reasons of animal welfare and market.

What happens to the extra embryos? At the moment, there are no clear answers.

09.52: I think this will lead nicely into Russell Ferris’ talk on Harnessing the power of the latest options for digital transformation of stud books…

09.48: Remember how yesterday I said I’d bring a list of all the online stud books? Well, the Registrars’ preempted me and the list is as below.

Online database: Australia, Belgium, France, Kuwait, Morocco, Switzerland, Germany, Tunisia, UAE, USA
PDF stud book on website: Turkey, Tunisia, KSA, UK, Poland, Oman, Lithuania, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, France

Qatar and Austria plan to have their stud books online by 2023, and many countries have said that they will replace books with PDF going forward.

China are working with WAHO to prepare their first stud book.

09.33: France has requested to see whether improvements and simplification of the export procedures and WAHO Export Certificate are possible.

09.26: First up from the report is a discussion to waive the rule on the post-mortem collection of embryos and use of in vitrio fertilisation to produce embryos from those oocytes. The majority of countries voted against this rule being changed, while the UAE, UK, KSA, and Switzerland either abstained or did not have a very clear position on the vote. There is going to be more discussion in this in the coming months, with one suggestion being that breeders have to sign a declaration attesting that their foal hasn’t been produced with techniques forbidden by WAHO rules.

This is a hot topic for sure. The tragedy of losing a mare can sometimes be eased by knowing you can still have a foal from them. I would love to know your thoughts on this!

09.20: The Accounts are accepted, and they are now voting to re-appoint PKF (UK) LLP as the Accountants and Independent Examiners of the Organization – which is carried. The Treasurer’s Report is concluded. Now for the report from the World Registrars’ Meeting.

09.12: WAHO is a registered charity in the UK, and thus the Treasurer has to be based in the UK. David Angold did so for many years before Caroline was appointed at the 2017 Bahrain WAHO Conference.

Ah, that is lovely – Dick Hadfield in the US has made a donation of $1,000 in memory of his late wife, Marianne Hadfield, who enjoyed coming to the conferences and would have loved to have come to Jordan. The WAHO Executive Committee had decided to donate that money to Al Ma’wa – a truly lovely gesture.

09.10: Peter began by thanking everyone involved in last night’s private breeders presentation. The first item of the day is the Treasurer’s Report, given by Caroline Sussex.

09.10: Peter Pond has called the meeting to order.

09.05: Looking at today’s agenda, it is the any other business we are waiting for – to find out where the next WAHO Conference will be. After yesterday, my money is still on Saudi Arabia.

08.19: Good morning from Amman! I hope you all slept well and are ready for another day from WAHO.

WAHO Jordan sunrise

First, a look back to last night. We went to the Royal Jordanian Equestrian Federation for a presentation from local breeders. The evening opened with the Mounted Police, who did a demonstration of tent pegging – an event in which they have won medals in overseas competitions, as well as taking the 2022 Tent Pegging Championships in Petra.

Then it was the main presentation, and there is a true mix of bloodines within Jordan now; last time I was here, it was still mostly local breeding with some imported sirelines, but now there is a much broader range of bloodlines. It was good to see Princess Alia’s own stallion, Monarcos DD (Psytadel x Monogrammed Lady by Monogramm) utilised so well by private breeders, and two of the standouts of the night were the the 12-year-old bay stallion Assef (ex Aurora Psyche by Padrons Psyche out of Aurora Psyche) and the seven-year-old fleabitten grey mare Al’Atfa (ex Majd Amman by Ansata Malik Shah out of Yasmin). Both are bred and owned by Mohammad Al Daaja, and they were lovely examples of the breeding taking place in Jordan. Sadly, the light wasn’t great for getting photos, but below is the beautiful mare, Al’Afta.


Al-Atfa

The WAHO Trophy for 2022 in Jordan was awarded to Sahwat al Wahhab AH (Najem Hala x Al Hoda by Ayyar), bred by Sheikh Anwar Sha’lan and owned by Tareq Mohammed Daoud al Muhtaseb. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a decent photo on my phone, but if I find one, I will add later!

After a delicious Arabic Street Food dinner, the presentation came to an end with the presentation of five horses from Madros Stud, Isabella (Nibrass x Enya by Ekstern) and three generations of her progeny. The standout moment was when Janine-Helen Daniel, a WAHO attendee from Australia, brought the beautiful mare Esperanza MS (by Zeus EA by Shanghai EA out of Essence of Marwan EA) into the ring. It was a wonderful end to the night.


Janine-Helen with Esperanza MS

That is me up to date for the time being, I’m now off on a hot water hunt so I can enjoy a peppermint tea. We have more WAHO business this morning, including the Treasurer’s Report, a report from the World Registrars’ Meeting, and plans for the next two years, and then our guest speakers. I think many of us are looking forward to the Preserving our Heritage talk, especially.

TUESDAY 11 OCTOBER 2022

15.58: Peter thanked all the delegates, and suggested that more countries do visual presentations. He then closed the session for today.

Tonight is the private breeders presentation, so more from me tomorrow! If you are reading this, do leave a comment or a note on socials – it’s heartening to receive feedback.

Finally, thank you again to Kiaa and Al Dawla Arabians for sponsoring this coverage.

15.56: Poland ended on a sad note. Krystyna Karaszewska passed away two weeks ago, just two days short of retiring. She was hugely instrumental with the Polish breeding programme and racetrack, and she will be missed.

15.54: The Arabian breed is the most popular equine breed in Poland, and they are considered a national treasure.

15.47: Poland stats – there are currently 1,160 broodmares in Poland, with Janów owning 117, Michałów 132, and Białka 50. The numbers of private breeders are on the increase.

15.45: We are on to the last of the delegate reports – Poland, one of the founding members of WAHO.

15.42: Another discipline we are hearing about a lot this year is tent pegging, especially within the Arab countries.

15.41: Pakistan had their first ET foal born in September this year.

15.38: The Pakistan report was very interesting as it was accompanied by a film. To see the Arabian horse being enjoyed in all disciplines around the world is great – I especially enjoyed seeing the grey polo Arabian in the film. They have 766 Arabian horses registered in Pakistan, which became a member of WAHO in 1997.

15.28: Did you know that the UK Stud Book also covers Ireland, Greece and Malta?

15.26: The video ended with “Our past is the glory of our present.” Hmm, I wonder…

15.22: One of the main topics of conversation since the WAHO family got together is – where will the next Conference be? There have been a lot of votes for the UAE – mine included – but now watching the very slick and well produced video presentation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, my money is there. I do not think that Saudi Arabia has ever hosted before, and with their current bid to increase tourism to the country, could we all be heading to the desert once more in 2024? We will find out tomorrow afternoon.

15.17: It is also interesting just how many countries still do not allow embryo transfer (ET) to be performed. Artificial insemination (AI) is now widely accepted, but ET is still an anathema for some.

15.09: We are on to the last reports now, those with visual presentations to run alongside. These are France, Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Kingom, Pakistan, and Poland.

14.57: Israel seem to be bucking the trend with lots of new owners and breeders, and 15,000 purebred Arabians in the most recent stud book!

14.51: This is the Beirut Horse Racing website. SPARCA are on there, but there isn’t much information about the call to action. I will find out more just as soon as I can.

14.43: It is now the turn of Lebanon, and they are sharing a call to action to save the Arabian racehorses of Lebanon. SPARCA are running a campaign to save the Hippodrome of Beirut and continue racing there. We will share more information on this just as soon as we can.

14.37: What is interesting is just how many registries have online stud books. I will try and compile a list over the coming weeks and share it at The Arabian Magazine; they are invaluable for breeders and researchers alike.

14.28: Iraq puts a plea out to anyone who has a horse from that country, stolen during the invasion, to let them know so that they can register their offspring. Again, the price of war is so high.

14.22: Libya has just thanked Tunisia and Morocco for their help and support in helping create their stud book. The thing about WAHO, for those who have never been, is that it is all about sharing, help and support. Everyone sat in this room right now is here because they love the Arabian breed and want the best for it. There is no competition, just a genuine to create the best for the Arabian horse.

14.10: The news is received with a round of applause.

We now return to the reports from the Registries, starting with Czech Republic.

14.05: The afternoon session for day one begins, with Peter talking about the Oman Horse Stud Book becoming Caretakers for the registration for Tanzanier. The WAHO Executive Committee has unanimously approved this. The vote is now taking place – and is approved.

12.45: Peter comments on how informative the reports are not just with statistics, but with what each country is doing.

We are now breaking for lunch.

12.21: The US report also includes that DateSource is being updated to include photographs – as many as possible. A great idea!

12.16: We are now listening to the United States report and they, too, noted an increase in transfers in 2021, noting that this increase occurred not just within the Arabian Registry, but other breed registries as well. It seems as though the pandemic resulted in positive effects in some ways!

11.58: We are listening to the Jordan report, and it is is worth sharing HRH Princess Alia’s Growing Together, part of the Princess Alia Foundation.

Based upon the basic principles of the Horse Boy Method and drawing upon the inherent resources of rescued and rehabilitated Arabian horses, Growing Together provides young people on the autistic spectrum with an opportunity to interact with other living creatures in a natural environment and to explore their own connection with the earth around them in a holistic way. Well worth a look.

11.50: Australia shares that all the flooding, fires, and cyclones they have suffered have resulted in reduced breeding numbers, although imports are on the up and there was great support for this year’s Australian National Championships.

War, natural disasters, and man-made events all affect the breeding numbers of our precious breed, and it is when you hear statistics from countries around the world that you appreciate just how fragile Arabian horse breeding really is.

11.48: The UAE is interesting – they have launched their latest Stud Book in both English and Arabic. They have around 22,000 horses in the country, and around 1,500 foals born in the last year. They have 5,000 owners – very active, as those watching the horse shows recently will have seen!

11.43: We now move on to the reports from voting delegates. I won’t go into detail on all the reports, but if there is anything significant, I will let you know!

11.42: The international appeals for funds and assistance are still ongoing – I will share a link here later.

11.39: Peter comments that war has affected so many countries since the inception of WAHO, and that many thousands of horses have been lost. WAHO is a non-political organisation, and all will be; however, we all hope for better times ahead and peace for all.

After the 2019 Conference and a full report was made, and they were approved to join WAHO, work started immediately on the Ukraine Stud Book. Everything changed completely in February this year. The first Stud Book was near completion, and the Ukraine Arabian Horse Organisation have been working to get feed to horses, as well as horses to safety. They have been working with International Rescue efforts, and WAHO donated £500 to the fund.

11.37: Bolivia – the Executive Committee have been working closely to compile a complete volume of their first Stud Book. The work was finally completed and checked a few years ago. The first book, 1995 – 2021, has been approved by the Executive Committee. Unfortunately, Bolivia were unable to send delegates to celebrate this.

11.36: Peter now moves on to Applying Members – Bolivia, China, and Ukraine.

11.35: Motion is carried.

11.35: There is a question whether these horses are from previously registered; Peter Pond confirms that they are.

11.32: Information is now being shared about the Arabian horses in Lesotho – they have around 50 overall. The Arab Horse Society of Zimbabwe are looking to incorporate these horses into their own Stud Book – with WAHO approval. The Executive Committee voted unanimously for their approval, with Lesotho horses to have ‘LS’ after their names. We will now vote on approval.

11.31: And here she is, Tehama Ballalina! It is great to see the Arab Horse Society of Zimbabwe back in action once more.


Credit Ricard Cunill

11.25: The Society in Zimbabwe collapsed in the early 2000s due to political reasons. All horses born since 2004 were unregistered until this year. Thanks has been extended to WAHO for their assistance. They have just under 20 members in the Zimbabwe Arab Horse Society. The second volume of the draft stud book was in draft form for 20 years, and has now been submitted. A third volume is now in progress. The current foaling season will be the largest in recent years, something to look forward to. There are around 50 purebreds in the country. Later this year, they are expecting their first ever import from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As of May 2022, they are caretakers of the Lesotho Stud Book and will incorporate all into the Zimbabwe Stud Book. They are planning for their first show in 2023 – and a reminder, Tehama Ballalina (Tehama na Sidaqa x JJ Shai Majestic Queen) was bred in Zimbabwe, as was her sire!

11.23: We have no new Applying Members.

After 20 years of inactivity, Zimbabwe is now active again. As an exception to their normal rule, Executive Secretary Kina Murray will update us on all that has been happening in Zimbabwe.

11.22: We just held a minute’s silence for members who have passed away since the last Conference. It is always hard to hear that list, and realise just how many people we have lost.

11.05: Looking ahead, we will have discussions and votes on any matters pertaining, and then the reports from voting counties. These are always interesting and informative.

10.50: The WAHO Executive Committee are then introduced, with a brief background of each member provided.

10.48: Peter informs us that all previous Conference brochures will be shared online in the coming months.

10.47: Peter tells us that the normal 2.5 day Conference schedule will be done in two days this year.

10.45: The meeting reconvenes.

10.00: Noor returns to the stage to thank HRH and Excellencies for having us today, adding “we loved having you with us”. Now it is a coffee break and to reset the room.

9.44: Peter Pond takes to the stage for his welcome speech, adding a special thanks to HRH Prince Rashid for his talk on the hospitality of Jordan.

He thanked HRH Princess Alia for inviting us, adding how fortunate we are to host this Conference under the Patronage of HRH King Hussein, who is a life member, and Peter thanked him for his esteemed support of this event. Peter then thanked Noor and her team for the exceptional programme they have put together for our time in Jordan.

Peter then thanked us for taking time our of our busy schedules for coming here – the first time the Conference has been held in Jordan. He added that “the past few years have been difficult for us all – pandemic, travel ban, and financial uncertainties. That so many of us are going on the post-conference tour, underlines the hospitality of this country.”

Peter shared his own personal WAHO story, how he joined in 1971 – and this is now his 4th Conference as President. “As I look around the room, I am delighted to see so many familiar faces. WAHO was founded on members’ respect for each other. We have always had a philosophy to treat each member country as equals regardless of size.

“Thinking of our history, I would like to remind you of the old saying – ‘to know where you are going, you must know where you have come.’ 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of WAHO in the United Kingdom, and he highlighted the main decisions made over the past 50 years including, most important of all, the definition of the purebred Arabian horse to be used by all countries, unanimously ratified at the 1974:

“A purebred Arabian horse is one that appears in any Arabian stud book or register that is registered by WAHO.”

“This took away all the historical problems that people didn’t agree on, and made it simple for people to understand and implement. This forms the deadlock of all we do today.

“All the decisions WAHO has taken over the years has led to a resurgence in international interest in Arabian horses. WAHO still has a place today, and I I emphasise that you are WAHO. Our members. We are WAHO.”

Peter closed by thanking our Patron and Host, Princess Alia, once again, adding that he is sure you will enjoy the coming days.

9.44: Noor then welcomed Peter Pond to the stage.

9.26: HRH Prince Rashid takes the stage and wishes us a warm welcome.

“A few years ago, Princess Alia wrote a book and was kind enough to ask me to write a forward. I wondered what I could contribute as it was so well written – and I feel the same here, to be among those who know so much about the Arabian horse.

“The Jordanian tradition of welcoming guests and visitors is a a clear reflection of how the country’s strategic location has been a constant. Part of Jordan’s DNA to be welcoming. All of you are very welcome, particularly in light of the global pandemic that we all lived through. For Jordan, a country that relies on being a thoroughfare for trade and having a large ex-pat population, it was a tremendously challenging and difficult time. In times of adversity, Jordanians come together. Historically, this was always the case, and it was no different in the pandemic. From His Majesty directing to citizens coming together, we all worked to make the pandemic as bearable as possible.

“In Jordan, you will find different people, from different walks of life, ethnicity, and that is the rich tapestry of life. Is what makes Jordan so unique. We are exceptionally diverse in climate, in terrain, and in people.”

Prince Rashid shared how there was a fire in The Royal Stables and ordinary citizens from cross Amman went to the stables to offer assistance, and offered to help round up the horses. “It was a reminder of how, in adverse times, people come together.

“I thank you again for being here. I am well aware that there are some who may say preserving heritage, Arab horses, is a luxury. Without a keen sense of awareness of where you have come from, it is exponentially harder to know where it is you are going.

“Siti Alia brings us all together – a wise head and a wise voice. Has a knack of bringing people together in the kindest way. The leadership Siti Alia shows here – very much in the style of the late king and continued by the current king. They set very high standards for us to live up to.

“Thank you for putting up with an amateur and polo player, and please feel at home as genuinely, we view our guests in a very short time to be hosts. Thank you and we hope to welcome you back again.”

It was a great speech, and was met with warm applause.

9.23: Princess Alia opened her welcome by saying that HRH King Abdullah is very excited to have us here. Jordan has been a member of WAHO since the 1970s and they are honoured to host the Conference, adding that it is exciting to have so many people here from all around the world and enjoy Jordan.

“The common theme is how Arabian horses unite people – and our presence here is proof of this,” Princess Alia continued. “In spite of all the obstacles people have faced, people have continued to get together for the Arabian horse. The horse has courage, they tolerate us, they are willing, have empathy, and kindness – and when we are with them, they trigger that within us. That is why WAHO is so harmonious.

“Enjoy Jordan, and I wish you the best for our own horses and countries. Thank you, and I will now pass to my very dear cousin HRH Prince Rashid bin El Hassan to learn more about Jordan.”

9.20: Noor invites HRH Princess Alia Al Hussein to officially open the Conference.

9.15: Noor Al-Refai, Conference Organiser and Secretary General from the Royal Equestrian Federation, welcomes everyone to the conference, and announced the arrival of our special guests.

8.30: Last night was the opening night of the 2022 WAHO Conference in Jordan. It took place at the beautiful Jordan Heritage Restaurant in their outdoor garden. WAHO President Peter Pond welcomed everyone on behalf of WAHO and thanked HRH Princess Alia for hosting this year’s WAHO Conference. Peter added how wonderful it was to be back together again following the postponed conference following the COVID pandemic.


Credit Bryan Geoghegan

We then enjoyed a delicious meal that celebrated the true taste of Jordan. The restaurant embraces a mission for their rich local culture to be documented, revived and experienced – serving as a vehicle for women’s rights, social cohesion, commercial sustainability, and intercultural exchange. The menu reflected the vibrant flavours from the different regions of Jordan, from the north to the south.

We tried many dishes that were new to even the most seasoned Middle Eastern traveller, and it was interesting to enjoy the different flavours and subtleties from around the country.

MONDAY 10 OCTOBER 2022
17.10: 
Before I go, I wanted to share some videos with you, short interviews I have been conducting with WAHO attendees. There are more to come, but for now please enjoy.


17.00: 
On to today now – a half day tour of Ancient Amman. I have been to this city many times, but I have never seen the city as I did today; I truly had no idea that, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Jordan’s capital were amphitheatres, temples, and more!

The first stop was the Roman Amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century and that can hold 6,000 people, and it was impressive in both size and structure. One lady, not part of our tour, kindly decided to sing, so please enjoy the incredible acoustics.

From there, it was a short walk to the smaller Odeon, a smaller, restored Roman theatre.

From there, we drove to the Citadel, a site that dates back as far as the Bronze Age and which is built atop of one of Jebel Al Qala’a, Amman’s seven hills. The view was simply breathtaking – check my socials for a video of the panoramic view.

The Citadel has Roman and Islamic ruins, and provides a strong link to Amman’s past. The Temple of Hercules, built by the Romans, is the most prominent feature on Citadel Hill and its most famous site. Then there is an early Byzantine Church as well as the remains of Umayyad Palace.

The Citadel was a truly special place to stop and explore, and one visit is not enough to see everything. Our guide, Mohammed, was brilliant at explaining all that we could see, and this is a place I need to visit again. So much history in one site; just incredible.


Lunch followed – I couldn’t resist a foodie shot in this write up – and now we are back at the hotel ready for the welcome reception and dinner at the Jordan Heritage Restaurant tonight. It will be great to finally have all the WAHO attendees in the same room together, ahead of the WAHO General Assembly starting tomorrow.

16.55: A bonus photo of last night’s full moon over Amman, taken on my phone!


16.30 – SUNDAY RECAP: 
It was appropriate that Sunday was the most spiritual day of the tour so far as we went to Mount Nebo and the Byzantine church of Saint George in Madaba. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, you could not fail to be moved by the incredible beauty of these places, and also how Jordan shows itself to be a world leader in having different religions living alongside each other: Muslim and Christianity.


The view from Mount Nebo

The first stop was Mount Nebo, a sacred mountain standing almost 1,000 metres high and overlooking the River Jordan and the Dead Sea, with Jerusalem in the distance, among many other sites of significance. Mount Nebo is believed to be the place where Moses stood to view the sacred Promised Land and in the 4th century, a small church was built by Egyptian monks on the mountain peak in memory of Moses, converted into a basilica a century later. Inside as some of the best preserved and most beautiful mosaics in Jordan, depicting wildlife and local customs from the Byzantine era.

Outside is the Brazen Serpent Sculpture, created by the Italian artist Fian Paolo Fantoni. the sculpture recalls the bronze serpent on a pole that God told Moses to erect to protect his people from the poisonous snakes that God himself had sent as punishment. It was enough to look at the bronze serpent erected by prophet Moses in order to be healed and saved.

From there, we stopped at the Madaba Arts and Handicraft Centre and Mosaic Workshop, founded by The Queen Noor Foundation to help local women get into work. It was a fascinating insight into how mosaics are made – and how long they take to complete!

After lunch, it was on to St George’s Chapel, that houses The Madaba Map/Madaba Mosaic Map. Found in the floor of the early Byzantine church of Saint George, this map depicts part of the Middle East and contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem.

The church was spellbinding, and all around were depictions of St George and the Dragon – England’s patron saint and who is regarded throughout the Middle East as being a saint and prophet.

This all-too short summary of the day will be expanded upon later, but my migraine was so severe yesterday morning, I nearly didn’t make the tour at all. I am so glad I did, as this chapel was just incredible.

15.40: Phew, what a whirlwind of a few days we have had! Apologies for not updating before, but Thursday was a very long day and my plans to post on Sunday were scuppered by having a very bad migraine. We have just got back from day three of the pre-conference tours, however, and I am ready to fill you in on the amazing country of Jordan and the WAHO experience!

SATURDAY RECAP: Saturday was all about Al Ma’wa Animal Sanctuary for Nature and Wildlife and then the historical Roman town of Jerash – and while it was a long day, wow, was it worth it!

Al Ma’wa was founded by HRH Princess Alia and Vier-Pfoten International, and is the only animal sanctuary in the Middle East. An animal sanctuary is something very different for this part of the world, where people are used to seeing animals in zoos, and Al Ma’wa survives thanks to donations from the public. Having been, I would urge you to make this your nominated charity for the year ahead.

We were shown around the sanctuary by Dr Marek Trela – yes, from Janow, who now works in Jordan as CEO of Al Ma’wa – and Mustafa Khraisat, one of the keepers.

The first animals we saw were two bears rescued from Syria during the war. It was heartbreaking to hear about all they had gone through – how Damascus was bombed and the zoo owner couldn’t reach the zoo for 45 days to check on the animals; when he did, he was faced with true horror – that of animals having been forced to survive by eating their dead brothers and sisters, and there were so many animals who didn’t make it.

Brown Bear in Jordan

These two bears did. Both male – all animals are neutered when they come to Al Ma’wa – and took 2.5 years to finally be able to have them in the same space at the sanctuary. We were told that at the noise of jet planes, they still become very distressed and run off to try and hide, and the loud feed trucks originally used at Al Ma’wa had the same effect. The team at Al Ma’wa have changed things as much as they can to ensure that the bears are happy – and it showed! One climbed a tree to eat acorns, looking down at us to check we had his best side, and the other posed with one foot in a water hole, showing the gentle grace that these giants have. They were so happy here, and so relaxed – wonderful to see after all that they have gone through.

My heart went with this 18-year-old hyena, who reacted to my voice every time I spoke to him. Marek told us that in Jordan, people think that hyenas are bad luck, and they are working to re-educate them. Also noteworthy were the young male and female baboons – abandoned on the Saudi Arabia border, and who will soon be rehomed. Al Ma’wa tries to rehome as many animals as possible but only if it is safe from the animals to do so. While all the animals are kept behind wire, the baboons used this as a climbing frame, showing off in great style!

With Lions, Tigers, and Bears – Oh My! going through my head, we came across several groups of lions and lionesses. They all have so much space to roam in and, being neutered, lions can live alongside each other. These lionesses caught my eye – I think you can really see just how relaxed they are. They truly live in the lap of luxury after all that they have been through.


A lion in the same pen. Credit Bryan Geoghegan

After a traditional Middle Eastern lunch, t was time to leave to Jerash but Al Ma’wa will stay with all who visited it forever. Truly, an amazing place that is doing so much to make the lives of the animals there happier.

It was then on to Jerash – a place I have been before and love. It is one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities in the Middle East, and it is rich with history as well as being one of the most complete Roman cities in existence outside of Italy. With its history going back more than 6500 years, Jerash is a place that is truly breathtaking and a must-visit.


The South Gate


The amazing columns leading to the main street


The main street in Jerash. Credit Bryan Geoghegan

Jerash used to be one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in the Near East and is located 30 miles north of Amman. They are still working on uncovering and restoring the city, with much of the original restoration work having to be redone so they can reach World Heritage Status. If you have never been before, then do add Jerash – and Jordan – to your bucket list.

FRIDAY 7 OCTOBER 2022
17.10: 
We are just back at our hotel following a fun afternoon going to the main Conference Hotel and finding out more about the guest speakers as well as catching up with friends – many of whom haven’t seen each other since February 2019, the last WAHO Conference, held in Australia.

As well as the main business of WAHO, there are three talks from a series of guest speakers.

First of these is the incomparable Peter Upton, who will talk about Royal Heritage: The Royal Jordanian State Stud. Many of you may have bought the book from us, now out of print, that Peter wrote with HRH Princess Alia, and it will be interesting to see this brought to life at the Conference.

Second is Preserving our Heritage: The Importance and Relevance – Past, Present, and Future – of State, National, Royal, Military and Agricultural Studs. This is a huge topic, and Deirdre Hyde, Dr Astrid von Velsen-Zerweck and Gudrun Waiditschka will, I am sure, present a very lively discussion on this topic. I am already looking forward to it!

Finally. we have Russell Ferris talking about Harnessing the power of the latest options for digital transformation of stud books. We truly live in the digital world and as a journalist and researcher, I know it is so easy when the stud books – such as Australia and Belgium – are online. It just makes life simpler – although nothing, of course, beats the printed book that you can leaf through and explore.


Jerash

Tomorrow is the first of the pre-conference tours. We are off to Jerash and Al Ma’wa for the True Treasures tour. I look forward to filling you in more on this tomorrow, plus sharing some photography.

For now, the sun is just beginning to set over Amman behind me, and the WAHO Family is slowly coming together once more. Special times indeed.

THURSDAY 6 OCTOBER 2022
9.00: 
Well, WAHO 2022 is looking very real now! I know that a number of friends from Australia are already on their way to Amman, if not already there, and that friends in the United States are also preparing to head to the airport.


The WAHO logo at the 2019 Conference in Bahrain. Credit Samantha Mattocks

So what, exactly, is WAHO? Founded in 1970, WAHO has the responsibility of ensuring that standards acceptable to all its Registering Authority Members are established and maintained in the matters of regulations, methods of registration and production of Stud Books. We have a President, an Executive Committee and two elected Consultants to the Executive Committee. Registering Authority Members are each entitled to send two voting delegates to the biennial WAHO General Assemblies. Associate Members may send two non-voting delegates, and Individual Associate Members may attend as observers. We also arrange a World Registrars’ Meeting at each Conference, which has become increasingly important over the years.

The basic objectives of WAHO are, in brief:

  • To preserve, improve and maintain the purity of the blood of horses of the Arabian breed and to promote public interest in the science of the breeding of Arabian horses;
  • To promote and facilitate the acquisition and distribution of the knowledge in all Countries of the history, care and treatment of horses of the Arabian breed;
  • To advise and co-ordinate the policies and activities of Members of the Organization;
  • To co-operate with any person or body of persons… Domiciled throughout the world in an endeavour to promote uniformity in terminology, definitions and procedures relative to the breed of Arabian horses;
  • To act in a consultative capacity in discussion and negotiation with International, National… And other authorities… On matters concerning horses of the Arabian breed.”

The Arab Horse Society of Great Britain hosted the first ever conference of International Arabian Horse Societies in July 1967. There were 15 delegates representing nine countries in attendance: Australia & New Zealand; The Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Spain; UK; USA.; and USSR. There were also 14 Observers from seven countries in attendance: Denmark; West Germany and Marbach; Israel; Jordan; Spain; South Africa and Sweden. The result of this meeting was that those present agreed that a world organisation should be formed to aid in the protection and orderly development of the Arabian Horse throughout the world.

Since then, Conferences have been hosted around the world including in recent years – Bahrain (1998 & 2017); Australia (2000 & 2019); Turkey (2002); Poland (2004); Syria (2006); Oman (2009); and Qatar (2011 & 2014). And this year, we head to Jordan.

To find out more about WAHO, including how to join, visit their website waho.org.

TUESDAY 4 OCTOBER 2022
13.30
Time to kick off our WAHO coverage for 2022! While the conference doesn’t begin until Saturday, all around the world people are preparing to travel to Jordan’s capital, Amman, for the bi-annual get together of like-minded people.

The last two conferences have been in Australia and Bahrain, and The Arabian Magazine was there with their live reporting. Click on the links above to find out more about this experience like no other within the Arabian horse community.

Our sponsor for WAHO 2022 is Al Dawla Arabians, home to RHR Heir of Marwan (Marwan al Shaqab x LC Psychesheiress by Padrons Psyche). Owned by Diaa Karaali, who will be at the Conference talking about The Levantine Arabian Racing Club and the Beirut Hippodrome – more on this later. We thank Diaa and all at Al Dawla for sponsoring our coverage.

RHR Heir of Marwan Arabian Stallion Al Dawla Arabians Stuart Vesty The Arabian Magazine
RHR Heir of Marwan – Lead Sire at Al Dawla Arabians. Credit Stuart Vesty

To find out more about the WAHO experience, you can read the invitation here and as well as more detail about the programme of events here. The official WAHO website for Jordan 2022 is wahojo.com

To find out more about WAHO, including how to join, visit their website.

WAHO logos

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