with Horse and Hound

Learning to Say ‘Tally Ho’ in Chinese

You are forgiven for assuming that The County Down Club is in Northern Ireland. Actually, it’s in Shanghai, China, and is described as the first exclusive club for horsemanship and foxhunting there.

The County Down Club takes advantage of the country’s growing economy—now the second largest in the world. Established three years ago by Steven Sun whose interest in horses was sparked while studying in Britain, the club has about eighty members who pay an annual membership fee of $8,400.

The facility features an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a piano, and a dozen horses. Sun takes members foxhunting in Europe and has four Thoroughbreds racing in France.

Equestrian sport “has developed rapidly in China during the past five to ten years,” according to Sun, and enjoys a growing interest.

China’s Horsemanship magazine reports there were 1,802 equestrian clubs in China as of July 2018—double the number in 2016. The majority are located in northern and eastern China, Beijing and Shanghai primarily, according to the magazine. Such growth is likely to continue, the Chinese government having stated in 2014 that equestrian sports were to be “strongly supported.”

Another recently founded equestrian company is WonderHorse, which provides products and services. Founder Zoe Quin is based in Shanghai and was formerly the chief representative in China for French-based LeCheval.

The industry is “booming” for two main reasons,” said Quin.“Chinese parents consider horse riding an elite education to make their kids more outstanding in this highly competitive Chinese society.

“As for adults, they can extend their participation in equestrian sports beyond riding into broader aspects such as ownership, investment, travel, leisure and social activities.”

Only a two-hour drive from Shanghai is the horse-themed ‘Pegasus Water Town,’ complete with hotels, art gallery, a mall with Venice-style gondolas, an equestrian club, and a Horse Culture Museum.

The ‘Town’ has more than 400 horses of many breeds, and visitors form long queues for horse-drawn carriage tours. There are lavishly costumed parades and horse performances in a menage that the official website calls an Austro-Hungarian Empire style, and over which hangs a familiar giant portrait of Napoleon on a rearing white horse. (Think “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David.)

Click for more details in Chiang Rai Times.

Posted January 2, 2019