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Tina Lund: "I feel like I get the best of both worlds"

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Photo (c) World of Showjumping
“The culture is so different, and the way they do the shows here too,” Tina Lund says about life in Dubai. Photo (c) World of Showjumping.

Many might remember Tina Lund for representing Denmark at multiple European Championships and in the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006. Today, the Scandinavian beauty lives far away from the cold north – having her base in Dubai, for both her family and her 22 horses.

“After I had my son and started to go to shows again, it just felt a bit wrong: Not being with my son and being away from home,” Tina tells. “So, I thought: ‘Where can I be in the world so that I can ride and be a mother at the same time?’ And the options that came up, were Wellington and here in the Middle East. Then I decided – I had been to Wellington and I loved it, but I wanted to try something new. So, I asked my husband what he thought about moving to Dubai – and that is how we ended here,” she smiles.

Tina was not unfamiliar with the region, had already sold a few horses in the area and had contacts in Dubai and the region around. “So, I took the chance. I now live in Dubai, and my horses are stabled at Dubai Equestrian Centre where I rent boxes together with a client of mine.”

Competing actively and being a mother of two small children can be challenging, but Tina thinks she has found the place where she can do just that. “Every show here is only one hour from my home,” she explains. “So every morning, I see my kids and in the evening I can go and compete. I feel like this is the only way for me to be a good mother and still have my career at the same time.”

The cultural differences are undeniable, though. “The culture is so different, and the way they do the shows here too,” Tina tells us. “I remember the first show I did here, where I got to know the prayer break. I didn’t know about the timing of it – sometimes I had to warm up twice, because everyone else knew but I did not,” she smiles. “There were many cultural issues I had to learn about. It has not been difficult, but just new to me.”

The level of the competition is in general higher than most people would assume, Tina explains. “A lot of people in Europe seem to think that the competition here is easy and simple, but there are actually a lot of good riders and good horses here,” she says. “The sport is growing. It is a nice place to be; I have many clients, I have good horses and amazing shows. The facilities here are so beautiful, and the weather is amazing! I don’t miss the snow and the cold – winters in Denmark were really tough,” she laughs.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Tina Lund took a brave move, all the way from Denmark to Dubai. Photo (c) World of Showjumping

With the sport growing, more and more Europeans are choosing the United Arab Emirates as their destination over the cold winter months. “The riders from UAE are good riders, the level here is high and we have good horses”, Tina says. “The level of the prize money is good too.”

“There are for sure a few things that are different from Europe,” Tina goes on to explain. ”Sometimes, doing business here is difficult seeing that I am a woman – because in Europe it is easier for me to socialize with men than here.”

But women play a big role in the United Arab Emirates when it comes to equestrian sports: One of the most influential supporters of showjumping in the UAE is a young woman, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hazza Al Nahyan, the founder of Al Shira’aa Stables and Honorary President of the CSI4* Al Shira’aa International Horse Show. “I think what she is doing is amazing,” Tina says. “I wish every country could have someone like her. She is supporting the young riders, she is supporting the seniors, she is making this show. I think we are lucky we have these shows here in the UAE. She is even making a show for the ladies only every year, to encourage them to ride.”

Is Tina ever planning to return to Europe, we ask? “I am planning to stay here as long as my children are small, they are one and five now,” she tells. “I do like it here, I have good connections and I like the sport here. The good thing is, I get the best of both worlds; because during the summer months everything closes down here. And it never does in Europe! In Europe, the sport goes on the whole year round with the World Cups in the winter and the Championships and Nations Cups in the summer. Here, you have a break – if you don’t transport your horse to Europe. This means we have eight months of season and when it is done, you have a break of four months. That was also new for me; I had to change the way I trained my horses, so that they were fit for those eight months and then give them a longer break over summer,” Tina says. “Actually, I like it. It gives me freedom to go and look for new horses, to give clinics, riding camps, all these different things I can do in the summer. Also, being in Dubai – it is very warm in the summer, nobody stays here.”

Photo (c) World of Showjumping
“Since I came here four years ago, the sport has grown a lot and is growing still," Tina tells. Photo (c) World of Showjumping.

With big wins and many experiences in the bag already, Tina has a whole new look on life now. “I already achieved a lot – won World Cups, rode the World Championship in Aachen and European Championships,” she tells. “For now, my goal is to have a nice life working with horses. Of course, it is nice to ride at the highest level but to make a good business with horses – I love that part of the sport too. I love young horses, and building them up. I think that is maybe also why it is sometimes difficult for me to get good results, because I sell a lot of my young horses.”

“It is more challenging when you have children, because you cannot only think about yourself and your horses – you have to think about your family at the same time,” Tina goes on to explain the challenges women face when trying to balance motherhood and an equestrian career. For Tina, it took a move as drastic as going from the snow of Denmark to the sands of Dubai. “I feel like here, it is 90 % possible and in Europe, for me, it was not possible at all. I had to travel long trips with the truck and stay at the showgrounds.”

“Another thing here is that they do so much for the kids! Every show you go to, they make sure it is easy for us to bring our kids. I have not seen this anywhere else in the world. They love horses and family here and kids are very important.”

Our sport is growing, and in this regard Tina feels like she might have found just the right place to be. “Since I came here four years ago, the sport has grown a lot and is growing still. More and more people are coming in, I have more and more clients,” she says. ”Now that the UAE team won in Barcelona, a lot of people are now putting their eyes on showjumping. Four years ago, it was mostly endurance and race horses and not so many showjumpers and not at all dressage. I feel like now, it will come – they are building new places for the horses. I feel like Dubai is a good place to be.”


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen

No reproduction without permission

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