Thirty-one students and five faculty members from SDSU shared an amazing study abroad experience in China and Hong Kong from May 12-25th. The first full day in China after 24 hours of travel led the group on many exciting adventures including the Pioneer headquarters, a briefing by the US Soybean Export Council and shopping at the Silk Market. Several horse enthusiasts among the group were delighted to have the opportunity to tour the Beijing Equestrian Club.
The Beijing Equestrian Club is simply amazing in that it is the home of over 130 horses, show barns, schooling barns, and provides enough arenas to host large-scale hunter/jumper and dressage competitions. The schooling barn is operated to support a lesson program for locals. This barn housed a variety of breeds suitable for the English discipline including a local breed. The larger show barn was home to horses in high-level training. These horses were warm-bloods, many imported from Europe. There was even a wing, which housed several Andalusian horses from Europe that were in training for dressage.
Horses were stalled and fed four meals a day including hay and a grain mix. Despite the regular meal schedule and quality feed, several horses in both the schooling and show barns were at a lower body condition than most of our horses back home. Quality hay must be shipped over great distances to support horses and other livestock in China. In fact, some alfalfa is shipped from the U.S. to China to support livestock feeding programs.
During our visit the arenas were busy with individual training rides and group lessons. A second floor observatory decorated with generous leather furniture was a keen way to view all of the activities at once. We asked if they compete in three-day eventing. Due to the fact that the facility is located within a crowded city of 19 million people there is simply no room for cross-country. Thus, the horses and riders compete mainly in hunter jumper and dressage. Numbers can get a bit lost in translation, but we believe the cost of belonging to the Beijing Equestrian Club is approximately $15,000 USD annually, and that training fees would be applied additionally. Far exceeding the spending capacity of most, this facility serves an elite group of competitive riders.
The following is a brief detail of the experience from SDSU students Felicia Niehbuhr, Caitlin Siefkes, and Olivia Kendall:
- We went to the Beijing Equestrian Show Facility and met Shirley. The facility housed about 130 horses used for dressage and jumping. The horses were mostly warmbloods and have high value. The ground in the practice arenas was unlike what is used in the US, and contained sand and pieces of fabric which felt like felt.