China’s journey to be an equestrian hub examined in depth during the sixth session of Asia Horse Week
The sixth session of the Asia Horse Week covered the future of equestrianism in China from the viewpoint of riders and trainers, with the speakers delving into topics such as Olympic equestrianism, China’s perception of the horse and where China’s riding industry will go in the next few years.
A consultant to the Hong Kong Equestrian team, Mr. Ludger Beerbaum, began the session by talking about his work with equestrian sports in China, which he has been involved in since 2006, two years before the Beijing Olympics. To grow the sport in the country, he talked about the importance of making it more accessible. He said China needs to create a competition structure and keep records of all the results.
Standardised training programs need to be developed as well, and more riders and coaches should be sent out to experience different equestrian systems. Since the sport in China is expanding fast, it’s important for them train under qualified results, he said. “Riding is more than a sport, it is feeling and trust – riding is a lifestyle and pure fascination,” he summed up.
A key professional Chinese rider who is familiar with China’s system is Mr. Quanwei Meng, and he followed on from Mr. Ludger Beerbaum by revealing how much the sport has grown in the last five years. “International shows held in China have contributed significantly to the rapid growth of the sport and have brought the equestrian industry on the right track,” he said. With a new generation of riders coming up in China, the future looks bright, he concluded.
Another Chinese professional rider Mr. Alex Hua Tian ended the session with a somewhat autobiographical talk, which also delved into the status of the equestrian industry in China. As an ambassador for his nation and his sport, Alex Hua Tian won a Silver Medal for China at the 2014 Asian Games and is the youngest eventer ever to compete at an Olympics. He spoke of his Olympic journey and explained how he has come to respect the slow-burning athletic process that is involved when competing at such a professional level. Using a house as an analogy, he said the process is like building a home, brick by brick. “After competing in two Olympic Games I’ve learned to respect the process and the time it takes to build riders, the team, and the support structure that surrounds you,” he said.
He also offered some advice on how countries who are developing their equestrian sports could go about it. He suggested they take a long, patient approach. “In this region the growth is so fast and so strong, that I hope federations will be more focused on a long-term strategy and invest in the future – especially in China,” he commented.
During a question and answer session, Mr. Ludger Beerbaum talked about how to progress the sport in the region, and he said open borders and free trade are the main limitations holding everything back. Although the ball has begun rolling with the One Belt One Road Initiative and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Europe, a lot more needs to be done. “Free trade and open borders – I think this is what we are really missing to get everything going. If rectified, more than anything else, this would be a massive push for the development of our sport in this region,” he concluded.