The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

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Al Sorat Farm: Horseback Riding in Sakarra

Al Sorat Farm: Horseback Riding in Sakarra
written by
Aleksandra Sekinger

There are some activities in Cairo that out-of-town visitors always want
to try, and horseback riding at the pyramids is definitely one of them. Sure,
there are plenty of stables to choose from, but many of the horses in Giza tend
to be overworked, underfed and just plain sad. So, Cairo 360 decided to search
for greener pastures, and we found ourselves at Al Sorat Farm in Sakarra.

Al Sorat Farm is the personal sanctuary and retirement
project of veteran horse trainer Maryanne Stroud. Maryanne is the ringleader of
a circus of sorts. The first thing you’ll notice at the farm is that there are
animals everywhere. With seventeen dogs, a dozen or so horses and a few mules,
the animals outnumber humans by far. If dogs make you nervous, this is not the
right place for you. The dogs are friendly but very energetic.

For those that sincerely care about the treatment and
well-being of horses in Cairo, the horses at Al Sorat are very well taken care
of and obviously loved. All of the horses are Arab-baladi mixes, and they look
very healthy and strong. Riders need not worry about saddle differences; both English
and American saddles are available.

The stable encourages safety by wearing helmets and
making the group ride at the skill level of the least experienced rider. Experienced
riders should not venture to Al Sorat Farm in a group with lesser experienced
riders; unless they don’t mind not being able to gallop or jump.

There are far less people riding in the Sakarra area,
so riders get the sense that they are alone in the scenic Sakarra sands. The
ride started out relaxing and the landscape was gorgeous. After about twenty
minutes of slow walking, however, one of the horses snapped and started a very
swift gallop. Following the horse’s lead, two other horses began to gallop into
the desert.

The good news is that when the horses started to
gallop, the more experienced rider in our group enjoyed the gallop of a horse
called Gameela, who never made the rider feel out of control. Gameela is a real
treat for an expert rider who misses riding on a well-trained horse.

The bad news is that the horse that snapped was being
led by a less experienced rider, who could not control the horse’s rigorous
gallop. Not long after, the rider fell off the horse and came very close to being
badly injured. Although the stable seemed to enforce some safety precautions,
it was surprising that more thought was not put into properly matching riders’
skills to horses. Additionally, inexperienced riders were also never taught how
to dismount a horse during an emergency.

The whole experience just goes to show that the horses
at the farm are a bit of a motley crew with various pasts. Many of the animals
are simply given to the farm and a few of the horses are rescued cart horses
and former racehorses; so if that scares you, don’t take that risk.

The farm is better suited for the experienced rider that
can handle the occasional horse outburst. Although the horses are getting lots
of love now, it doesn’t mean that they always have.

Although we still feel that the Al Sorat staff could
have better prepared the less experienced riders among us for a possible
outburst, Al Sorat offers a different experience for anyone sick of the old riding-around-the-pyramids

360 Tip: Al Sorat Farm offers a variety of rides, including hour-long rides,
slightly longer rides for about three hours and longer distance trips,
including a one-day trip to Dahshour that includes lunch. Al Sorat works by
appointment only.