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 – In conversation with Huda Janahi, founder of Horse Pride Equestrian Equipments

Horse Pride is the one stop shop for all equestrian needs, not only for horse lovers in Bahrain, but for those in Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well. The mastermind behind this unique venture, Huda Janahi, gave up her 15-year long glittering career in the financial sector to pursue her dream and make it a success. BTW got in touch with this mother of three to hear her love story with horses and how it has brought success to her venture.

How and when did your love with horses begin? Do you remember your first horse ride?

I am passionate towards animals in general. But my passion towards horses specifically happened by chance in 2003. To make a long story short, it was during the time when I was thinking of quitting my job and starting on my own. To tell you the truth, I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. But one day as I was driving around, I saw a young lady riding a horse. I stopped the car and got into an interesting conversation with her regarding horses and learning to ride them. And the next day I was at that riding stable with her, learning my first basic steps of riding a horse. Now 11 years later, she is one of my best friends today.

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What according to you do horses denote?

Horses are a symbol of pride, passion, strength and endurance. It has long been a source of pride to own a horse, especially with the ancient Arabs.

Do you own horses? Which breeds are they?

Yes I do! I actually own 5 of them. 2 of them are warm blood, which means show jumping horse that my son rides, and the rest of them are Spanish horses. I am actually in love with Spanish horses and 2 of these horses I bred myself here in Bahrain. Spanish horses have unique characters and they make fine Dressage horses. I claim to ride dressage, but I am far of being a professional rider. You can’t do that when you have to run a business. Horse riding needs a lot of your time. But I do ride frequently in the week and I like to think about it as riding for pleasure rather than professionally.

How did ‘Horse Pride Equestrian’ come in to being?

My husband was a little worried about me getting injured from riding horses, so he suggested that I start a business in the same sport that I enjoy. I welcomed the idea since I was already planning to exit my payroll job. I started off with some help from my husband and a few friends and opened my first little shop on Budaiya highway in March of 2004. It was a frightening experience at the beginning, because horse products are so complex and it is very difficult to sell something you do not know about technically. But I worked hard and learned so much in the past 11 years that I gradually expanded and today I have a regional presence with branches in Bahrain, Qatar and KSA. My husband recently joined me and we have converted Horse Pride into a WLL company as we are planning for major expansions regionally and through online sales.

What makes ‘Horse Pride Equestrian’ unique from other equipment providers in the Kingdom?

Horse Pride is all about improving the Equestrian sports in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I can proudly say that Horse Pride has lifted the standards and the experience of shopping for horse riding gear. We changed the perception of a horse equipment store, from displaying the items to the store decoration and the quality and variety offered. We have forced all competitors and new establishments to follow the same standards which after all benefitted the equestrian industry here in Bahrain and across the GCC countries. Today, we have a variety of brands that are exclusive to us. We also have a range of products that are specifically manufactured for us. Because we buy our products directly from manufacturers (not distributors), we are able to provide excellent prices for walk-in and wholesale customers in the region.

Our customer base expands far beyond Bahrain, Saudi and Qatar where we currently exist. Our website was the first website to offer equestrian products for online sale in both Arabic and English languages. It also offers instant shipping and credit card charging features which similar websites do not currently offer.

You seem to provide everything; for the horse to the stables and for the riders. How do you choose the products you have for sale? 

That is a very tedious process and I think it is also one of my strengths. I tend to pick all items to be ordered myself. I must say that a female touch is necessary when you have most of your collections being fashionable items. Horse riding clothing such as breeches, shirts, jackets, boots and helmets are fashionable products. Equestrian customers always look for the latest in these brands. We have elite brands for those who can afford it and the medium ranges for budget conscious customers. I regularly visit international exhibitions to update myself with the latest products. I also design my own products and regularly visit manufacturers to ensure quality of goods

Tell us about winning the “Most Outstanding SME Projects in the Arab World” in 2013 in the 8th edition of the Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Award for Young Business Leaders.

It is a recognition that I will cherish throughout my life. I was recognised for my outstanding contribution and also for being the only Arab woman actively managing such a line of business. I was honoured by the award from HH Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoom who is an iconic role model in the equestrian world and to entrepreneurs in the Arab World.

Do you think your success has been motivation for other budding entrepreneurs as well?

I hope so and I think so. I get a lot of phone calls, especially from young women who seek advice for taking their first steps into the business world. I am always happy to receive such calls and I do my best to assist.

With 3 branches in 3 countries already, where do you see yourself and your venture in the next 3 years?

I can clearly tell you that I am heading toward regional expansion in GCC countries. As I speak with you now, our second branch in Saudi Eastern Province is being launched. Our next step will be towards Kuwait and some improvements to our e-commerce website. We have also launched a sister company to Horse Pride called “First Choice”. This new company mainly specialises in production of Arabian Beauty show halters and accessories.

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This interview was originally published and conducted by Startup MGZN here: [Link]

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