The inaugural Asia Horse Week conference gets into its stride on its second day
As the 2018 Longines Masters of Hong Kong competition got underway at the AsiaWorld-Expo, the second day of the Asia Horse Week was coming to another successful close, with an impressive end session panel featuring esteemed dignitaries such as Dr. Yasuhiko Haruta, Advisor to the Japan Equestrian Federation, Mr. Michael Lee President of HKEF, and Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health.
Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee congratulated the founders of Longines Masters of Hong Kong and Asia Horse Week for pulling off a successful event, and she also passed her good wishes onto Japan for winning the 2020 Olympic Games. Nearly 200 hundred equestrian experts attended the second day of the rendezvous, the first of its kind in the region. Set up through the strong support of the official partner, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the summit was conceived to promote the exchange of equine knowledge and it looks like it has already earned its place on the equestrian calendar and will be around for many years to come.
The forum played host to three main sessions throughout the day, which explored topics such as China’s equestrian status, horse welfare, biosecurity and transportation, and Hong Kong’s equine legacy. The event was broadcast and translated live on social media and EEM TV, with many big media outlets present as well.
The day started with one of the most enlightening sessions of the conference, which explored horse health, biosecurity and transportation, as well as equine veterinarian expertise.
Mrs. Fiona McCormack, veterinary advisor of Peden Bloodstock, opened with an introduction to equine transportation and logistics, drawing light on what it takes to move horses around the world. She also discussed the global distribution of equestrianism and explained how she is trying to open new areas for horse sport. “We all know there has been exponential growth in our sport and we are moving horses now to more locations across the globe,” she commented, adding that she is making efforts to get the correct logistics in place to make horse transportation easier.
The Head of Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Quarantine Department, Dr. Brian Stewart, elaborated on the logistical procedures behind horse transportation with a review of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s new Conghua Training Centre in Guangzhou. In December 2017, the Hong Kong SAR and Chinese Mainland authorities signed four memoranda to create a special biosecurity zone in the Conghua District, which is the only internationally-recognised Equine Disease Free Zone in Mainland China.
Defining the Conghua Training Centre as a quarantined training ground, he raised the importance of education and biosecurity. “Anyone working in the field has to be aware of the consequences and biosecurity should be a second nature part of their job,” he said. He added that although there is not a wide awareness of the importance of biosecurity in China, they should be able to develop this. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” he summarised.
Another key figure from the Hong Kong Jockey Club expanded on the issue of biosecurity training later in the session. Dr. Chris Riggs,
Head of Veterinary Clinical Services, Hong Kong Jockey Club, explained that although China is buying more horses from around the world and has aspirations to achieve world standards, the country still has a long way to go. “There is a significant lack of equine veterinary expertise within China and a dearth of facilities in which to treat horses,” he said, adding that there is only one equine operating theatre in the whole of China.
Nevertheless, the speakers all agreed that while China has a long way to go, there are already major initiatives in place which will help develop the industry. This sentiment was repeated in session five of the summit, which brought together riders and trainers to discuss Olympic equestrianism, China’s perception of the horse and where China’s riding industry will go in the next few years.
To grow the sport in China, Mr. Ludger Beerbaum, consultant to the Hong Kong equestrian team, said the country needs to develop standardised training programs, and send more riders and coaches out to experience different equestrian systems. During a question and answer session, he also said open borders and free trade are the main limitations holding development back in the region.
Two other active professional riders also weighed on China’s equine standing, with the country’s first Olympic equestrian star, Alex Hua Tian, urging undeveloped equestrian nations to be patient and build things slow. “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. Another Chinese professional rider, Mr. Quanwei Meng said with a new generation of riders coming up in China, the future looks bright.
The final session of the day was opened by the Chairman of the Asia Horse Week, Mr. Raphael Le Masne de Chermont, who congratulated Japan for winning the 2020 Olympic Games. The Hong Kong Equestrian Federation President, Mr. Michael Lee then discussed the strong equestrian legacy which remained in Hong Kong even close to a decade after the equestrian competitions of Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics were held in the city. In a moving moment, the advisor to the Japan Equestrian Federation, Dr. Yasuhiko Haruta then came on stage and Mr. Michael Lee passed his best wishes onto Japan and praised them for securing the 2020 Olympic Games.