Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Horse Riding tries to make inroads in Botswana sports scene

Slowly trickling into the realms of local sports is horse racing and riding, despite its existence since the 18th century only now are Batswana getting exposed to the different use of horses other than those used for farming.

Seasoned rider Wiseman Ben claims to have fallen in love with these majestic beasts from as far back as 1987 and had the opportunity to attend the J&B Cup which used to be held at the Gaborone Showgrounds back in the days, “Whenever a horse-riding opportunity availed itself, I never missed it,” said Ben. It was a dream come true when his brother acquired horses which meant more riding for Ben though it was more Bush riding without any formal training.

As a university student in Melbourne Australia Ben was availed the opportunity to work as a part time crowd controller at the prestigious Melbourne Cup, Australia‘s most famous annual Thoroughbred horse race which was debuted in 1861 which garners up to 7 million dollars in stakes.

In bringing it home, Ben has hosted first the Gabs Endurance Challenge last year and the ball was rolling for the first ever Gabs July meeting which unfortunately had to be postponed due to the Covid 19 restriction imposed.

This has not deterred Ben and his tenacity and passion for these majestic gallant beasts continues to grow and is on his way to host the Sefhophe Horsie Challenge on December 26th 2021. According to Ben, “Sefhophe Horsie Challenge is a carnival style race and we intend to attract more than 20 000 local and regional spectators and showcasing the various equine competition disciplines to educate and teach Batswana about the untapped economic power hidden in these majestic equine friends.”

Ben said the event will stage a thoroughbred race, endurance rides, show-jumping Jump-off challenge that will thrill the crowd beyond their imagination. There will also be a dressage horseshow as well as a donkey race ‘to acknowledge and honour the significant economic contribution from these humble equine friends.’

The event is strategically being held in the village of Sefhophe as it is centrally located at the centre of many villages and the town of Selibe Phikwe connected by the major Selibe Phikwe Martin’s drift road ideal for the much-needed events tourism. Ben further stated that, “As part of our social responsibility Sefhophe Horsie Challenge will donate care packages to children orphaned by Covid 19 and were left in a deplorable state, they will be selected by social workers.”

At the Sefhophe Horsie Challenge, a significant number of entrepreneurs will be showcasing their products and services thus providing a lucrative networking opportunity to further grow their businesses, which is a much-needed move since they all suffered a grave loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

From the 1800s horse riding has always been deemed an elitist sport in which only aristocrats and royalty participated, it has since evolved into a multi-billion-dollar sport and very popular with sport betting. “Though horse racing is an expensive sport because of the upkeep of the horses it is imperative that to improve our facilities and grow the sport as it has the potential to bring in investors, tourists and boost the growth of our economy,” said Ben.

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