El Jadida show celebrates Morocco’s majestic tradition of horsemanship

More than 230,000 visitors, including nearly 40,000 children, attended the 6-day event.
Saturday 26/10/2019
A troupe charges firing their rifles during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in the coastal town of El Jadida, Morocco. (AP)
Time-honoured horsemanship. A troupe charges firing their rifles during Tabourida, a traditional horse riding show also known as Fantasia, in the coastal town of El Jadida, Morocco. (AP)

EL JADIDA, Morocco - The 12th International Horse Show in El Jadida ended with a spectacular 2-hour Tbourida that included sorbas representing all regions of Morocco before an overcrowded grandstand.

More than 230,000 visitors, including nearly 40,000 children, attended the 6-day event that featured some 1,300 riders and 700 horses from 40 countries.

“The performance of the sorba from Guelmim-Oued Noun region was amazing. Almost all the horse riders fired into the ground at the same time,” said spectator Mostapha Qandouchi.

Tbourida is an art from the depths of Moroccan an­cestors’ memories and is reminis­cent of the battles they have undertaken to preserve their ideals and land against intruders, said Darem Bouchenttouf, author of “Tbourida, Khayl Wa Khiyala.”

Tbourida performances take place during cultural and religious moussems across Morocco. Riders, clad in traditional costumes bearing pearl-encrusted rifles and curved daggers, adorn their horses with ornamented saddles and harnesses.

The art of making saddles by hand is threatened by much cheaper machine-made ones.

“I urge El Jadida horse show officials to oblige participating sorbas to buy our handmade products to help us survive and make the event a true traditional venue,” said Mohammed Mounir, who said he learnt the art of making saddles when he was an 8-year-old in Fez. He added more than half of the participating sorbas used machine-made saddles.

The sorba led by Moqaddem Maher El Bachir, representing the region of Casablanca-Settat, won the King Mohammed VI Grand Prix of Tbourida.

“Winning this Grand Prix was not an easy thing because of the tough competition between the 12 participating sorbas,” Bachir said.

International Arab thoroughbred, Arab-Barb and Barb shows, as well as show-jumping competitions of the third stage of the Morocco Royal Tour took place during the event.

The theme of this year’s edition — “The Horse in the Moroccan Ecosystem” — highlighted the horse’s adjustment to environmentally diverse Morocco. It also showed the links that unite the horse with the coastal and mountainous landscapes, plains and arid areas.

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