Cowboys roaming the deserts of Bahrain
SCENES shines the spotlight on young people around the world who are breaking down barriers and creating change. The character-driven shorts will inspire and amaze as these young changemakers tell their remarkable stories.
As the sun sets over a savage desert, the sound of galloping hooves, cracking whips and ‘yeehaw’ echoes across the landscape. These scenes are synonymous with the American Midwest, but not the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The island country, located in the Persian Gulf, has been famous since ancient times for its divers and pearl divers. Dressed in tasselled vests and leather spurred boots, a group of cowboy enthusiasts tell stories that date back generations.
The group is part of a growing collective of Bahraini men who share a common love and fascination with the Wild West. The subculture meets regularly to practice horseback riding, cook traditional cowboy food, and compare outfits.
This unique sport dates back to the 1970s when fathers passed on their skills and knowledge to their sons. “The idea came from the generations who started playing this sport before us. We came after them as the middle generation and followed in their footsteps by playing this sport,” cowboy member Fareed Madan told Scenes. boy from Bahrain. “This sport has continued from the previous generation to the current generation and hopefully will continue to the next,” he adds.
Influenced by original Western films
American cowboys are famous around the world for their iconic style and rugged lifestyle. Many movies and TV shows have been made about their exploits. “I prefer westerns, especially cowboy movies, and my favorite actor is Clint Eastwood. I love the movie ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. We follow those characters and try to emulate them in this that we do,” says Fareed.
Bahrain enthusiasts get their cowboy costumes from a variety of sources. In the past, they ordered them online directly from US stores. Now they can buy goods from a local retailer in Bahrain specializing in cowboy memorabilia.
“Every time we put on this outfit, we feel distinguished among people. The feeling is indescribable. If you are passionate about this sport, you will feel a real excitement to be part of it and show your strong and tough side,” says the cowboy Mahmoud. Al Kafas.
In Bahrain, there are more than 300 cowboys. Each cowboy belongs to a stable that has 20 to 30 cowboys as members. “I would like to open my own stable to teach those who would like to join and educate people about it,” says cowboy Fadhel Abbas Al Jabal.
During the cooler months, the close-knit community gathers on the weekends to take part in festivals, camping trips and reining. “The sport of cowboy is like any other equestrian sport, it involves risks and you have to learn the basics of horsemanship. Among the things to know before engaging in this sport, there is the ability to hold the reins with one hand.” says cowboy Ali Abdullah.
Reining is an equestrian sport that originated in the maneuvers needed to work cattle on a ranch. Riders guide their horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and halts.
“Some competitions require physical strength from both horse and rider, like the barrel game. Here you have to be quick and avoid mistakes to get top marks,” says Fareed. “The more mistakes you make and the longer you take, the higher you move up the leaderboard. The faster you complete the task with fewer mistakes, the further you advance in the competition.”
There are also competitions for the best saddle, outfits and the most beautiful horse. “You feel like a warrior fighting a battle, especially when you compete in competitions wearing this outfit. You want to leave a mark in the competition. You don’t want to dress up and compete for nothing. You have to be a fighter and achieve the goal you are pursuing,” says Fareed.
Be recognized as an official sport
The sponsors and the members themselves currently finance the competitions and the prizes. The group hopes that the Royal Bahrain Equestrian and Endurance Federation will recognize cowboy competitions as an official sport.
“In the future, I hope we will grow as a group and the number of members will increase. Also, to have a track, where we can practice our hobby and get more support. Not an association, but rather we aspire to have one like the Equestrian Federation,” says Fareed. “With official support, this sport will grow even more.”
The spirit of brotherhood
The spirit of the cowboy community is essential in attracting new members. In recent years, the subculture has grown in popularity. “I can’t do anything without the help of the guys. We are very close and we encourage each other in everything we do,” says Ali. “Being with a positive and encouraging group of brothers is the greatest gift and encouragement for me to keep doing what I love.”