News Newsinterview with mr Hadi Saei

interview with mr Hadi Saei

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Horse riding is such a memorable experience!
Taekwondo was turning into my career, and I felt different about that in comparison with riding, but now that I’m following horseback riding professionally, I can safely say that it is so enjoyable and maybe I’m one of the few people in Iran that enjoys my current business. 
You are one of the most famous athletes of our country and you don’t need an introduction, but please tell us a brief biography of yourself and the history of the formation of your riding club.
I’ve been riding for about 18 years, and I’ve been managing this club for almost 8 years. During my management time, I’ve tried to change the public view toward riding, which presumed as an expensive sport. Currently, the cost for riding lessons in this club is very low, considering the horse’s breeds and the equipment available. This club made it possible for all kinds of people with different financial and physical status to experience horseback riding. We are trying to make all the visitors leave the complex with complete satisfaction. Even people with physical disabilities and autism have a special consideration that can use and enjoy the club. 
Are you just managing the club professionally or you are also participating in some other activities in this regard as well?
Currently, my priority is horseback riding. 
How did you made it to the equine industry?
I have been interested in animals since childhood, and it seems that 80 percent of people are interested in horses and riding them. In a time that I was practicing taekwondo professionally, the only thing that made me relax and gain back my energy was horseback riding. So since I got distance from taekwondo, riding has become the most important part of my life and I have been trying to participate in various horse riding competitions. 
Have you ever won any title?
Yes, I’ve been able to achieve 7th position in last week’s competitions in Tehran.
Have you ever had a pet?
Yes, all sorts of them. I have a garden in north of Iran that i keep my lovely pets there. 

Your face is usually serious when it comes to media, have you been able to communicate with horses this way?
Riding horses and communicating with them is a different world, which is so relaxing. Contacting with animals like horses is recommended by psychologists for treating the patients. In today’s machinery world, all humans that see horses, realize their decency, peacefulness and genuineness, and receive their energy. Even watching their movements is so therapeutic and pleasing to audiences. 
Which one made good memories for you the most? Taekwondo or Horse riding?
Taekwondo became my job, and in comparison to riding I felt different about it. But now that I’m a professional rider, I can safely say that it is so exciting and maybe I’m one of the few people in Iran that enjoys his current business. 
Do you have any memories of your riding that you want to share with us?
When you are in this profession, every day is memorable. I experience amazing days with horses that is unforgettable. The type of connection varies from day to day, and that makes this profession even more exciting. 
Which one is more troubling? Taekwondo or Horseback riding?
Well, taking care of the horses is really hard and the most responsibility is on the club. 
If you have to choose between these sports, which one do you recommend to your son?
I would definitely recommend riding. Even there was a time that my son was interested in taekwondo, but I tried my best to change his mind. 
Have you tried to won world championship in horseback riding?
The world championship in equestrian is totally different, because the gear required in this field is horse and its price is high for participating in world championship. Of course, the horse also needs a professional rider, and although no one is available at that level for now, there has been progress in these recent years. It should be noted that after several years of Asian equestrian games, Iran is scheduled to participate at the Asian games and we hope to get good results. We believe that Iranian riders will be good at Asian games if  good condition is provided for them.
How do you assess the future of riding in Iran?
Due to the fact that we have not been able to join the competitions for so many years, there was no progress. Now, participating in the tournament is a big step in this field. The equestrian federation has now moving towards the international federation, since all the activities were dedicated to domestic measures till now. Even in the teens Olympics, we have gained a share that is a great step, and it’s even better if our teenagers get this chance to actually compete with their horses, since a rider can’t win a tournament with a borrowed horse when no proper acquaintance is created. This process will make it possible for investors to invest on young people for wining global titles. 
The general public considers horse riding as a luxury and expensive sport, but kabook magazine is trying to make this field popular among them and indicates that the costs are moderate, what is your recommendation?
The costs of riding in our complex for one month training which is 8 sessions, is 550,000 Toman which in other clubs is up to 800,000 toman. But there are no compulsory horse purchases in this club. There are also people that after so many years of practice finally achieved advanced level, but it is not necessary to purchase horses, and if they are willing to take part in riding competitions, we will provide the horses for them. 

Is your interaction with Mr. Ashkan’s complex in favor of your visitors?
Ashkan’s shop is the only importer of riding equipment in Iran. Riding equipment is not the necessity for general people but for professional ones. According to our agreement with this complex, some of the riding gears is produced and imported for beginners. Of course, some of the domestic productions of Ashkan’s shop have a very high quality and we support them by recommending them to our apprentices. It is worth mentioning that a complete set of standard riding gear for beginners is distributed to them with reasonable prices and high quality. Also the health and safety of the riders are the top priorities of the club, which is observed carefully. The most important thing in riding gear set is the helmet and the standard of the riders, because in the absence of standard riding hat, there is a possibility of serious damaging to the riders. Therefore, by purchasing the helmet and gear set from Ashkan’s shop, we are assured that a standard hat is provided to our apprentices. As for the horse, there are standards that fortunately we meet them and have been benefited with the best horses and the licensed instructors. I also tried to encourage instructors to participate in first aid classes for improving the quality of education. The club has also equipped with ponies for children, so they can start their training around the age of 5. We can safely say that we are one of the top clubs regarding the number of ponies, which of course are from Caspian horse breed and considered as our country resources. 
Have you ever fall off a horse?
Of course, falling off the horse is part of the training, and usually professional riders get more serious damages than the amateurs. Learning and new experiences cause injury, but at higher levels people are trained so well to get less damage in case of falling off the horse. For example, when a beginner rider is about to falling off the horse, he releases his hands or in case of feeling the danger they throw themselves to the ground, but the professional riders never release their hands, which is learned through experience. We have four learning styles which are visual, auditory, experimental and practical that help all athletes to become a professional. Now, in the field of horse riding, there is also something known as sensation which is rather difficult and the riders need to communicate their feelings to have a better relationship with their horses. 
Are the horses in your club have names?
Yes, all horses have a name, birth certificate and a certain pedigree. 
What is the name of most expensive horse in your club and how much is that?
We can’t say which one is more expensive, since each and every single one of them are unique and one of a kind.

Which one of the horses you love the most?
I love one of them the most and I don’t even ride it. But of course I was riding it before and achieved so many titles because of it, but now I won’t trade it for the world.
What is the name of the horse you race with?
I have more than one horse for the race, since the horses are in different rankings and they get changed based on their rates for different competition and regarding the price of the horses that you mentioned before, they have different prices based on their ratings.
Do you have any horse rated 160?
No, there is no horse in Iran with that rate, since this type of horse is at the level of world championship.
How about the 140 mark?
Yes, there are horses in our club that rated 140. Even a limited number of horses that marked 150 are also found in Iran. What matters is that our country’s championship is based on the 150 rated horses, but the horses in the competition were not rated 150 and it was the ability of our riders that upgraded them. All the horses that purchased till now were rated 140 that with the ability of Iranian riders they marked 150. Also, there is a huge difference between the price of a 140 rated horse and the 150 one, which for the horses that marked 155 is twice that price, since it takes 10 years to nurture a 140 rated horse to become a 150 rated one.
How old is your club?
Our club is about 22 to 23 years old. 
What is the age limit for horseback riding?
There was an individual in our club once that won the championship title in the age of 62. Therefore, there is no age limit in this field and you can continue it for many years, which is one of the reasons I chose this sport. It is also a family friendly activity that fathers and sons or husbands and wives can compete with each other. Especially in Iran, horseback riding make it possible for families to follow a sport and enjoy spending time together. 
What about weight limit?
There is a weight limitation in educational domain, which usually doesn’t allow the people over 85Kg to enroll in general classes. But the club also holds private classes with more powerful horses for overweight people. 
What is the cost and duration of private classes?
The cost of private riding classes is 700,000 toman for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
What is the useful life span of a horse?
Usually, when the jumping phase of a horse is over and they get transferred to educational department, they considered to be the best horses. In fact, from the age of 15 to 17, horses enter the education sector. Of course, this depends on the amount of care and activity during the horse’s youth. 
Which discipline is more popular in horse riding sports?
First of all jumping and then dressage, endurance and course.
Do riding clubs pay taxes?
Sports clubs are free of taxes, but we are obligated to pay them. The reason for this is that they claim we have pension. Professional riders must keep their horses in the club, so for taking care of them, riders must be charged. This has made the club to pay taxes as a pension.  Equestrian federation should also keep their horses in the club, so this shouldn’t place the club in the tax payers category. Horseback riding is the only sport at top of the chart from all respect.
Mr. Ashkan, how did you enter the riding industry?
As I check every day and night of my entrance to this business, it’s been exactly 27 years and 6 month. I remember that I was interested to this profession since I was in elementary school, as two of my cousins were riding instructors back then and they were active at Norouzabad Riding Club, so I went there with them from time to time. When I was in middle school, I followed this field more professionally and besides Norouzabad club, I also went to Niroo Havayi club in Tehransar. I even remember that I went to qezel castle at the end of Kurdistan highway with my blue backpack to buy carrots for the club’s horses that I was treating. Horses must be warmed up to avoid pressure on their joints and muscles, and then it must be return to its resting state to cool down and that was my duty in the club. My first real riding experience was with Homayoun Vejdani at Iran Zamin club which is located in Tehran-Saveh freeway. The name of the first two horses that I started riding with them was Golpa and Caspian. At that time, riding equipment were not widely available like today and if someone had foreign equipment, he would be considered as a rich man. For example, my riding boots were from Bella brand which was yellow and I had to change the color using a black marker, also my trousers were not elastic and it was too tight that hurt my legs. One day that we buckled my horse caspian to the fence for Mr. Vejdani’s practice, it headstall was rubbed against the cement wall and broke. In that time my father was the chief flight attendant of Iran Air, so we gave my father the headstall to buy it for us from France and he brought us the catalogs from two known Chinese and Taiwanese equestrian equipment suppliers. The catalogs which had the price and pictures of the gears, was the starting point of my business. 
I made profit out of those catalogs orders. I received my first income by delivering headstall to Mr. Vala. After that I got more catalogs from my father and his friends in France. After a long time, Mr. Homayoun Vejdani, who is one of the most popular riders in Iran, helped me to open the first horse riding equipment shop. The store was located at a poultry house measuring 1.5m by 3m with 6 products. It was my friends supports that made my business bloom. At that time Mr. Gholami who was the first in this business had a store in Dowlat street that gave me some of the products on credit. It is worth mentioning that in the field of equestrian equipment, our country is currently at the level of European countries and we also have the best brands in Iran.  
It should be noted that riding is a technique, so what people learn in forest, the sea, etc., is considered horseback riding which is different from equestrian as a sport. Anyone can ride a horse without knowing the techniques, but equestrian requires special equipment and training. The initial hats that were produced within the country were made out of fiberglass that broke down with the first falling down, so it decided not to sell that hat any longer. Due to the low consumption, it is not possible to produce domestic products in high volume; otherwise we are the supporter of them. I was a professional rider at a time, but at the moment my real career is this store and I don’t have any rival in this area, I also have to say that since I love my job I won’t hesitate to do more which is beyond financial matters.