Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The rest of the horse facility tour

Well, if I don't quickly finish up my blog on Beijing riding facilities, it's going to be the time for my next trip to Asia.

After stop 3, I went to three barns, all next to a river. The first was a new place as I understood it. it was set up very functional and quaint. The office looks like a little cottage made of stucco with it's own walled garden. The stable looks nice and new. A trainer was teaching a student, and I overheard very good instruction. They seem to have good lesson programs, and will be an interesting place to ride. I saw a very beautiful horse there. He is smaller grey, may be 14.3 hands, 150 cm or so, but very nice conformation and well muscled. I asked about the
 breeding, and he was a Chinese half-bred. I really think Chinese horse breeders don't need to aim for giant horses, but really try hard to develop horses with good conformation that are suitable for Chinese riders, who most likely are not too big in stature.
The second was a bit hard for us to get to as you actually need to drive on top of the dirt dike next to the river for several kilometers to get there. We arrived during lunch hour, so everyone was eating lunch, all the horses in the barn and people in their riding attire outside the rustic "club house", sitting or squatting around. It is not a fancy place, but offers beautiful natural scenery of river banks and woods. The golf course next door is not that bad looking either. It is a wonderful place for trail riding. The lady who showed me around said only experienced riders they would allow to ride out on the dike. I consider their horses very thin. They can certainly use some grains or perhaps just enough hay to fatten up a bit.

Next riding club is several kilometers away along the river. This is one fancy place, but
 unfortunately I don't know how much business they are really getting. It seems to be mostly a
 boarding stable for some private horses. The office manager lady showed me around and told me it is basically an exclusive membership club, and the membership fee is quite significant, but the club members get to enjoy a luxurious club house in addition to the horse facility. They do also offer individual riding sessions, but it is not clear if they really have a rental string or school horses. They were rebuilding the barn, so all horses were staying either in a covered corral or
 out at the pasture on the river bank. The horses don't look particularly high quality though some of them were pointed out as privately owned. The club owner has an imported FEI mare that could perform Prix St. George movements, but unfortunately no one is riding her at the moment and she is out in the pasture. The lady told me if I wanted to ride there, she would ask if I could ride this mare. I will definitely take on the offer if I have a chance to visit Beijing again soon.

OK, three more places to report. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stop 3

Here is my 3rd installment on the Beijing Equestrian facilities.

This is probably the most formal training center in Beijing. They have 60+ horses, including school horses and privately owned horses. They have a huge barn to accommodate the horses, yet they are building a new barn. The jumping ring is huge, and they have a decent indoor arena, plus a couple of warmup rings. I saw many people riding, and the horses appeared to be well cared for, including one stout warmblood looking horse enjoying his
legs cooled off after a workout.

This place boasts a coach from England and is a 4-star qualified equestrian facility certified by BHS. I can't say the riders I saw were of high quality. A couple of horses were ridden with a inverted necks, hollow backs while jumping with tight reins, but the students seemed to try hard in their lessons. This is a sizable facility with manicured lawns and parking lot, and seems to be a nice place for competitions as well. They have their own newsletters that are in glossy magazine print, the lady who showed me around gave me a couple of copies.

This is definitely a place that I will consider riding though the price is quite high here, close to the upper range of the US prices.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stop 2...

It took me a couple of days to find time to continue with my blog on equestrian facilities in Beijing. After the official pentathlon facility, we drove toward north west for two private facility. The taxi driver helped me call in advance, but found out one phone number has been disconnected. I have pretty detailed instruction to get to the second location, so he didn't call. I thought it would not be too far, so decided to go check it out anyway. Well, I was wrong, it looked close on the tiny map I had, but Beijing is huge! It took us good 25-30 minutes to get there. It is a facility in the hills, a tourist area called Xiang Shan (Fragrant Mountain) with beautiful scenaries, and I was told this is where people go enjoy the red and orange colors of the fall. It was amazing to finally arrive the place and found it was on top of a beautiful knoll among a bunch of residential housing and a restaurant or nightclub right next to it. The security guard of the entire place told us the horse riding operation has been shut down though the horses still live there; he was kind enough to show us the horses. He reported that the owner made a lot of money from renting the houses and from the restaurant business, so he didn't want to be bothered by the little money from running the horse business. The horse stalls are on the first floor of an apartment. Won't that be great for a good "hardcore" riding school? Student dormitory on top of the stalls of their horses.

More to come, stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Equestrian Scenes in Beijing

I visited Beijing, China last week. No, I didn't catch the Olympic Games. I made sure I enjoyed the entire Olympics from the comfort of my sofa in front of my new 52" HD flat panel first. The trip was really for sending my daughter to study in a university there. She is a Smith girl, but in junior year, just about everyone studies abroad and she chose Beijing and Shanghai... for the best shopping based on my assessment. It was a short trip for me, but I managed to squeeze in a day to visit some equestrian facilities.

I was told there are 60+ equestrian centers or horse facilities near Beijing. I googled the internet and found about 20, and researched about 12 in the north and north east of Beijing to visit. I hired a taxi recommended by the hotel for the entire day. Beijing surburb is HUGE, and it took us from 8:30 to 5 without lunch to see only half of the places. However, I think I hit all the good ones and picked out places that I will definitely ride when I go back there.

We start from just the north of the University district, which you probably saw on TV if you watched the Marathon.

Stop 1. Beijing Physical Education University. The facility is situated right in the middle of residential apartments with convenient stores on the first floor. It is quite hard to find the entrance, but once you get in the alley and see the gate, you'll be impressed. The huge two-story tall barn is a concrete structure that looks like a commercial office building, and extremely well constructed. This is the only government sponsored facility in Beijing and it houses about 60 horses; most of them retired race horses from Hong Kong. They are trained for jumping and 20 of them were used for the Olympic Pentathlon, so they could safely jump a 1.20 cm course. One thing I observed is that this is probably the largest collection of BIG TBs. All of them looked just huge. The horses may be a bit thinner than I like, but looks well taken care of otherwise. It was very quiet there; only a couple of riders were schooling horses.

They open to the public, but they were still yet to finalize their new fee. The director who showed me around just said it had been way to low to make business sense. This looks like a wonderful place to ride though they don't have any dressage horse. I hope they don't become too expensive.

Save the Date for Conrad Schumacher Clinic

Save the date! See complete information and register at:


November 1st and 2nd 2008
The Portola Valley Training Center
100 Ansel Lane
Menlo Park , CA

Earn USDF University credits by attending this event.

Conrad Schumacher will detail a comprehensive Rider Training Scale in his first West Coast Symposium in over 6 years. The Rider Training Scale has garnered his riders over 40 international medals, including Olympic honors. A multi-faceted program, beginning with an introduction to Mr. Schumacher’s training scale, is followed by demonstrations and riding instruction aimed at bringing his concepts to life.

This is considerably more than a riding clinic; this is a template for the systematic development of both horse and rider. This unique approach will take you from the initial steps of training up to preparation for the highest levels of competition.

Emphasis will be on developing the young horse with sections on conformational analysis, the proper use of lounging and in hand work, working patterns to promote balance and mental fitness, and teaching the correct feel for and use of the aids.

Mr. Schumacher will outline his theories and applications at a special keynote presentation on Saturday evening. Don’t miss the chance to interact with other professionals and to see first hand how you can win on YOUR horse. There will be an equine fashion show, hors d'oeuvres and a no host bar.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm back...

Just got back from Beijing. I survived the local foods without any problem, but the airplane food on my return flight got me. I've had tummy aches and enjoyed my bathroom a bit too much in the past two days. I shall update my blog with some of the equestrian centers I visited. Stay tuned...