An Interview with Layla Al Redha

Getting to know more about the top riders and their unique experiences is a motivating opportunity and a rich source of enlightenment for every athlete.

 Layla Al Redha is a very familiar face amongst the passionate riders in the horse community.

This season she has achieved outstanding results and she definitely is the perfect example in proving that hard work pays off.  Layla’s name has rapidly gained the top of the lines.

 We were happily given the chance to interview Layla.

Here’s what we discussed:

   - Can you tell us where and when your passion for horses began?

My passion and love for horses began from the very beginning of my life. At the time I was born My father was the first Emirati international flat race jockey, who then became a flat race trainer and then eventually an endurance rider/trainer. My mother also was in the equine industry, she is a showjumping and dressage instructor and has competed at advanced level dressage.
Horses were part of our everyday life. Horses were our family. I started riding at the age of 3, did dressage shows at the age of 7 and then went into showjumping, before joining the endurance circuit at the age of 14 years old. 

 - Over the years the racing scene has evolved, and you are a part of this ongoing transformation, how important was the encouragement of your family for you?

I started endurance racing when it first started in the United Arab Emirates. My father was my trainer and my partner in every race I competed in.
Endurance just like any other sport took a lot of my time, dedication, sacrifices and determination.
Endurance racing comes with its fair share of heartaches and disappointments, so without the support and encouragement of my family, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

- This year you won one of the most important races in the world. Tell us more about the President’s Cup, what were your sensations and how did you experience the race as one of the leading riders? At which moment did you realize that you could actually be the winner?

 The day of the president cup race is a day I will never forget. It still seems so surreal, it was so far beyond my dreams to win. I have that the opportunity in finishing this race 4 times before, but to win it was beyond my expectations. During the race, I can truly say there was never a time I thought I was going to win that day, as you can imagine while you are racing in one of the most difficult and longest day race known, you are also racing alongside some of the most incredible horses/athletes in the world. Each one is respectfully deserving to be there and equally as good as the next to take first place. 

- How do you feel after such an excellent performance track record?

I’m completely overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been given. The countless incredible horses I have had the privilege of competing on, as well such great professional people I have had the pleasure to work and race for. 

- How do you prepare yourself for these kinds of races, do you only ride or do you combine with other sports?

I ride and train on a daily bases, I do believe to be fit and comfortable on a horse you have to be in the saddle as much and often as possible. My father used to tell me when I was young riding should be second nature, as normal as it would be as getting up every morning.
In addition to riding, I do also run. I enjoy running I find it a great outlet to clear my mind and to increase my stamina and fitness. 

 - After all these years of racing, what does it means for you to have the opportunity to race for a team like Al Wathba (the team of HH SH Mansoor B Zayed Al Nahyan)?

It’s an absolute privilege and honor to ride and represent HH SH Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Al Wathba Stables. The Al Wathba Stables have been so supportive and generous in my time and journey with them. 

- This year you had impressive results with two Uruguayan horses, can you tell us something about Jim Malabo (The president of UAE Cup winner) and Eo Raghd (The winner of Sh Fatma Ladies Cup)?

What do you say about two shining stars,  two of the most incredible horses I have ever had the chance to ride. They are both respectively amazing athletes in there preferred distances. Credit goes to the Al Wathba team and stables. 

- Throughout your career as a rider, please elaborate on one of the most wonderful memories you have from racing.

I have been so fortunate to have so many wonderful memories. As a young rider, I was the only ever female rider to get selected to ride for the UAE in young riders world championships twice. The first time one was in Italy and I was a team member finishing in 8th place securing the bronze medal. The second time was in the Czech Republic where I rode as an individual and finished in 4th place   

I have had countless wonderful memories during my racing career while riding horses for other stables or my own horses. Every race, every successful completion is a memory I keep close to my heart.

- Layla, as we all know, your potential has no limit, are you considering participating in any competition in Europe?

Yes absolutely, I do love riding abroad, as the experience and challenges are completely different. I have raced in Uk, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, India, Bahrain, Argentina, and Jordan. My plan is to hopefully add more amazing countries to this list. 

- For how many years have you been using Setzi? Which one is your favorite model?

 I have been using setzi for the past 5 years, I think it’s the best racing saddle there is. Horses move comfortably and free, as it does not restrict them.  My personal favorite is the Balente model.Layla Al Redha

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