Libya is a country divided but despite fractions, Libyans are deeply loyal to their immediate communities – homes. It is through this devotion that traditions carry on including one particular passion – Friday afternoon horse racing.
“Horseback riding is in our blood, our children and the whole family love it,” explained rider, Ali al-Hadi.
During summer months, competitors travel hundreds of kilometers to towns spattered across the countryside outside of Tripoli. The races are called “Sibeeb” which means the horse’s mane. Riders are called “gems” and a group of riders is called an “igid” or necklace. Each
Races are typically attended by men but women spectators are not uncommon. Crowds gather along the sidelines to sing tribal songs about valor and horsemanship. Riders wrap themselves in a large white sheet or “jard” before mounting horses, typically Arabians and Barbs, adorned with spectacular tack.
The “Sibeeb” are a boon to local economies, particularly the few remaining craftsmen still creating ornamental saddlery. They are visual eye candy for horse enthusiasts, a source of pride for communities and a means to continue ancient Libyan traditions.
Photography Courtesy AfricaNews.com