NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVTITY, Bahrain --
Young Marines and sailors stationed here are afforded unique opportunities through the Naval Support Activity’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation events and the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command Forward’s Single Marine Program.
Sgt. Sebastian Crawford, MARCENT FWD’s SMP coordinator, explores these opportunities first hand by saddling up at the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Dilmun Club, where he receives equestrian lessons.
According to the Dilmun Club’s official website, the Dilmun club is a social club that provides a safe, relaxed and friendly atmosphere for a wide range of social, sporting and recreational activities. One of which is horseback riding.
Crawford said he uses this experience and others to recommend events to other single Marines and sailors.
“The experience is amazing. Learning how to ride in the Middle East is an awesome adventure,” he said.
The 27-year-old, San Francisco, Calif., native explained that the cultural differences and some language barrier have made the training interesting, but the cost to train here is relatively inexpensive for the quality of training compared to places in the U.S. And, with all these aspects combined, he has a new found love for the sport.
“I first rode a horse when I was two years old. Initially my parents took me horseback riding, and I would also ride on the farms of friends, but I didn't grow up on a farm or a house with stables. I never had a real trainer,” he added.
Crawford receives lessons from Hussein Abdalhha, a Dilmun Club riding instructor and Kingdom of Bahrain native. Abdalhha has been instructing for 10 years, and he said he enjoys every minute of it.
Regardless of culture or nationality, Abdalhha said he teaches his students the importance of being physically, mentally and emotionally strong when learning to ride. And, the most important thing is to be calm and patient.
“Learning to ride is a good experience using the brain a lot more than many would think,” he said. “You must have a good understanding and feeling for the horse. You ask the horse to go over the jump and by knowing how to communicate with it will determine if he or she is happy to do it. If you do something wrong or they don’t feel your prominence, they will remind you."
Carina Abdulrahman, the Dilmun Club stable manager, has been working at the club since June, however, her experience around horses span more than 22 years.
“I just enjoy horses. A lot of people use riding as therapy… In addition to that, it’s a great place to meet people,” she said.
Crawford, who visits the club two to three times per week, agrees and says he has developed better relationships with locals there.
“Learning how to ride is very demanding, both mentally and physically. Every time I walk away from a riding lesson I leave with an added sense of self confidence and accomplishment,” he said.
Crawford hopes that by the end of his tour here, he will have the equestrian skill and ability to take up related competitive sports such as polo and amateur horse jumping as a pastime. “I want to continue riding and find a riding club once I return to the states.”
This is one of the many opportunities service members can take advantage of while stationed here.
For more information on the programs and events contact Crawford by email at Sebastian.firstname.lastname@example.org.