- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 October 24, 2003 

Horsing Around: First equestrian event introduces show jumping to Armenia


Some horses with sad eyes are looking around while others are actively pawing at the ground while the horsemen carefully move them into place and treat them with tender care.

Combs slide through thick tails and manes in a kind of horse cosmetology. One horseman weaves his horse's mane into unique braids so that his horse stands out from the others.

The heavy and distinct smell of horse spreads form stables that are awaiting reconstruction but much remains mysterious about what is to take place here.

After a few minutes, horsemen in dress white uniforms and shin-length boots start moving their mounts to the sound of Spanish guitars and the first Equestrian Tournament of Armenia is underway.

About 200 spectators gathered at Charbakh Race Track for the event last Sunday and Monday, many not knowing what to expect, including children wide-eyed at the big animals and their pageantry.

"Such a tournament is organized in Armenia for the first time," says executive secretary of the Equestrian Sports Federation and executive director Norair Stepanyan. "Such a competition first of all will give an impulse to development of equestrian sports and then it will give possibility to organize more crowded events in the future and enter international competition."

The young horseman knows the easiest way to overcome a barrier.

In all, some 20 horses and horsemen took part representing, according to Stepanyan, almost all equestrian clubs functioning in Armenia as well as private owners.

Onto a course of jumps decorated by red and white flags and potted flowers, the first horseman rode, removed his black cap in respect to his audience, then took his horse through its show-jumping tasks.

Like their owners, horses differ from each other. Some of them calmly ride, one horse furiously jumps from one side to another and with foam dripping from its mouth is ready to splinter everything. Other horses throw their riders at the end of the performance and one horse bolted from the arena, depriving its rider from the right of taking part at the competition.

Perhaps some refinement is in order before Armenia's second attempt at equestrian sport.

Some 20 horses and horsemen took part in a tournament organized in Armenia for the first time.

The tournament was open to any participant and spectators. No admission was charged, as organizers hope the first event would stir interests in the sport. Many government and business dignitaries were invited though only a couple attended.

"I knew about the competition by chance," says 60 year old Seriozha Hakobyan. "I brought my grandchildren with me so that they could see horses up close. It is very interesting for them and for us too."

But the interests appeared short-lived as soon the audience was applauding children who were running around on all fours mimicking the horses during the interval between competitions.

Organizers, however, remained optimistic that the first event will have successors. And winners of Armenia's first competition will be eligible to represent Armenia in the Caucasian Cup tournament in Tbilisi this weekend.

"Starting next year the federation is going to launch qualification tournaments thanks to which equestrian sports will be dynamically developed," says Stepanyan.

According to Agnes
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Surviving members of the legendary Ararat football team were reunited Friday October 24 for a match to mark the 30th anniversary of their Soviet league
championship and cup double-winning season in 1973. The team played an all-star former Soviet national side at Yerevan's Hrazdan stadium.



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