Getting in Stride with Riding: Equestrian Sports for Children in Hong Kong
Looking back in history, equestrian sports have had close ties to Hong Kong as horse racing has long been an exciting form of entertainment for many Hong Kong people. Besides horse racing however, Hong Kong has also seen the development of the more elegant and artistic form of equestrian sport that has been booming in Hong Kong since the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Hong Kong had the honour of hosting the equestrian events of the games.
Equestrian sports are often seen as something not easy to take part in because it is difficult to get access to horses in Hong Kong to participate in the sports. However, there are actually a lot of riding schools that provide equestrian education to the general public. In this article, we will share some general knowledge about common local equestrian disciplines, together with some information on riding schools for parents interested in enrolling their children in horseback riding classes in Hong Kong.
Popular Equestrian Disciplines
The popular disciplines of the sport coincide with the equestrian events in the Olympic Games - they are Dressage, Show Jumping, and Eventing. Dressage and Show Jumping are two distinct equestrian disciplines, whereas Eventing is a combination of Dressage, Show Jumping, and Cross-Country.
Dressage is the discipline in which the rider must cooperate with the horse to perform a set of sophisticated, pre-determined movements. This discipline is even defined by the International Equestrian Organisation as the “highest expression of horse training”, as seen from the demanding synchrony required from both the rider and the horse. Riders in higher-class competitions, regardless of gender, are required to be formally dressed in a tailed jacket. Combining elegant rhythmic movements from the horse and rider with the formal dress, dressage is often seen as an art form in its own right.
Show Jumping is an obstacle race in which horse and rider are expected to jump over a variety of obstacles that may be horizontally or vertically placed in pre-determined sequences, with a lot of turns and changes of direction. In layman terms, the main objective is to jump without knocking down the obstacles in the shortest possible period of time.
Eventing is typically a 3 or 4-day race that combines Dressage and Show Jumping together with Cross-Country races. Cross-Country races are obstacle races that take place on large outdoor courses.
Riding Schools in Hong Kong
There are 3 public riding schools in Hong Kong and several privates ones as well. The public riding schools are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) of the Hong Kong Government, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. They are located in Lei Yue Mun in Island East, Pok Fu Lam in Island West, and Tuen Mun in the Western part of the New Territories. While the Pok Fu Lam School is the smallest and busiest riding school, the Tuen Mun School spans the largest area and has the most riding instructors. Group lessons cost HK$245 to HK$320 for pony riding. Private lessons cost from HK$230 to HK$440, depending on the day of the week and the qualifications of the instructor.
While the public riding schools offer the most affordable riding courses, the classes are often over-subscribed and waitlist waiting periods - especially for weekend lessons - can be very long. According to information from the public riding schools, the waiting time can amount to 3 years for weekend lessons. However, the waiting time for weekday lessons can be as short as 1 month.
Besides public riding schools, there are a variety of private riding schools that offer horseback riding lessons to the general public as well. For example, at the Clear Water Bay Equestrian Centre, a private 30-minute lesson for non-members will cost HK$630 to HK$690, depending on which day of the week the lesson is held.
Weekend Rate for Pony Classes:
- Public Riding Schools by LCSD & HKJC: $245-440 (45 minutes)
- Clear Water Bay Equestrian Centre: $690 (30 minutes, non-member)
- International Riding Centre: $540 (45 minutes)
Tuition fees for Public Riding Schools and 2 Private Riding Schools.
Horses and Ponies
Two types of equines are typically available to horseback riders - horses and ponies. There is often a misconception that ponies are young horses, but this is not the case. Ponies and horses differ in terms of size, physiology and temperament. Kids will typically start with riding ponies because of their build. Riders with a larger build or more experience will usually ride horses.
A rider riding a pony.
Milestones of Equestrian Classes
At the beginning of any equestrian course, kids are not qualified to ride on their own. Their ponies will be leashed by a qualified instructor. When children become more familiar with the temperament of their ponies, instructors will allow children to try riding alone. As a child’s equestrian technique further improves, they can gradually attempt to ride at faster gaits and try jumping as well.
The basic criteria for children to be eligible for horseback riding lessons is that they have to be at least 6 years old, and their weight must not exceed 155 pounds. For safety, any children participating in equestrian sports must also observe a set of rules, including wearing English Horse Society certified helmets and appropriate attire.
For more information about equestrian classes, please see the following listings on whizpa.com:
- Pokfulam Public Riding School
- Lei Yue Mun Public Riding School
- Tuen Mun Public Riding School
- Clearwater Bay Equestrian and Education Centre
- Beas River Equestrian Centre
- International Riding Centre
- Tai Tong Lychee Valley Riding School
If you have had experience with any equestrian classes in Hong Kong, please do share your views by writing a review on whizpa.com!