On a list of the most popular sports in Kenya and Africa, horse riding may not feature too highly. With the sport being among the less explored activities in Kenya, it was challenging for Muthoni Kimani to pursue her passion for this sport.
As such, she had to spend Sh. 50 million in half a month in expenses for the preparation of an upcoming race abroad.
“We have not yet done the big competitions where the registration fee alone is Sh. 1.7 million. However, when you win one of the top classes, you win Sh. 256 million.
“It is big money, but it brings in big money too, and that is why the government should support the sport,” Muthoni’s mother said in an interview with Hot 96 FM.
Muthoni revealed she developed an interest in horse riding at the age of three after riding on one from her friend’s house.
It was not long before she enrolled in a horse riding academy in Karen to hone her skills. Her parents later acquired her personal horse for training at Sh 500,000.
“Buying them is very expensive, but maintenance is even more expensive, and we had to sell a property to be able to support her,” her mother said.
With years of training marked with terrible accidents, Muthoni began racing in the Olympics. She won a chance to join international racing after approaching a horse training institution on social media, which agreed to onboard her.
Muthoni secured admission into an exclusive jumping school in Italy known as the Cavalleria Toscana Academy, making her the first African woman to join the prestigious institution.
Her success story in the sport cannot be told without mentioning the sacrifices her parents had to put in, including selling property to finance her education and race.
Muthoni’s mother also had to quit her hairdressing job to support her daughter fully. The biggest challenge she has encountered is having one horse compared to her competitors, who have three or four horses.
“We need more horses for her because she only has one horse while the other students have three or four.’’
“Competing in Spain was a challenge because we were there for three weeks, and she couldn’t swap a horse because she had one and it needed a break,’’ said her mother.
Muthoni’s mother added that they met with the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Ababu Namwamba, who assured her that the government would support her.
Muthoni won the FEI against all odds award in 2022, a coveted international award among horse riders, and she is looking to win more awards in the future, especially in the global championship.