"I love horses. Cantering is like flying for me," declares 13-year-old Iris De Toldi from France. An experienced rider, she has been riding at Equuleus International Riding Club for the past four years. Open since 2000, Equuleus remains a favorite and riders will be happy to know that it maintains clean facilities, well-fed horses and certified instructors.
Covering 660sqm, the grounds include two large outdoor arenas (60x90m), one small outdoor arena (20x40m), one indoor arena (25x72m) and three stables with 120 stalls. A clubhouse with a newly opened restaurant serves local Chinese and Western food (salads, pizza, sandwiches). It is a great rest area for parents accompanying their children. Presently, the club is home to 104 horses, including 18 new arrivals from Amsterdam, Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Germany. Their horses include thoroughbreds, retired racehorses, and over 50 warm blood horses from Europe. Riders can ride the stable horses, but should consider having their own horse after a year or so.
There are 12 trainers from China, all of whom are certified by the Chinese Horse Society (CHS) and ten of whom are English-speaking.Deputy Chief Trainer Yang has had seven years of training – including some time in the UK, where he obtained a British Horse Society International Coach Certificate. Nine-year-old Greta Ivazaj, who hails from the US, has been riding since the age of 6. Despite a lack of English-language fluency, she thinks her trainers are good teachers. Of her trainer Arden, Greta remarks "He’s strict and I like that."
Riders of All Ages
Equuleus takes riders as young as 4 years old, who start their training with lead reign lessons. At around 6 years old, kids can ride on their own, without a lead. Beginners at Equuleus start with flatwork (walk, trot, canter) and stable management lessons. Classes are held in groups of two to five riders. Private one-on-one lessons are available for beginners and children under 6 (lead lesson), but group lessons are encouraged as the rider progresses. As beginners advance, there is also basic dressage and jumping.
Eleven-year-old Zhangyou, also known as David, lists horseback riding, along with ice hockey and go-karting, as his favorite sports. He has been riding for eight years and competes regularly in Beijing. Seventeen-year-old American Emily Zhang is another devoted rider. She rides three to five times a week and spends as much of her free time as possible with her horse Jasper. Her mother Jane Yu adds, "I can tell she has a passion for it. And now, she’s in high school and there’s a lot of homework and SATs – this is a way for her to relax."
Safety and Equipment
Proper riding attire includes a helmet, riding pants, boots and gloves. For safety reasons, riders should not wear eyeglasses, earrings, or any sharp jewelry. Equuleus can lend riders a helmet, a pair of boots and chaps at an extra cost of RMB 30 per lesson. Those who want their own equipment can check out the small tack shop on the premises. It has basic riding equipment: helmets (RMB 480), gloves (starting at RMB 200), riding pants (RMB 400), and riding boots (RMB 1,500). For a wider selection, try Renma Heyi Tack Shop across the street.
General Manager Michelle Wang warns, "This is a dangerous sport." Parents sign a waiver and if they are too nervous about their child’s participation, they are advised to discontinue riding. However, to keep the environment as safe as possible, safety is a rider’s responsibility. "I’ve learned the importance of confidence and determination. If you don’t have it, you can’t jump or ride well," Zhang explains.
Beyond safety, traits learned in riding horses carry over to other aspects of life. Gea Warr finds her daughter Greta has more confidence and self-discipline. It is also goal setting. "She sets her own limits with her own horse," Warr adds.
First-timers can request a 50-minute trial lesson. Riders are encouraged to have a membership, which is a one-time cost with no expiration date. Membership starts at RMB 2,000 for an individual. Family membership, which is good for 2 to 5 riders, is RMB 5,000 and can be shared among relatives or friends. Once a member, choose from different membership packages. Pay as you go for non-members is RMB 570 per time, but with membership packages, members pay an average of RMB 250-360 (includes training and insurance) per lesson. Riders may board their own horse for a fee of RMB 4,500 a month. The training fee is RMB 1,200-2,000 per month for a trainer to groom and train the horse each day for an hour.
Equuleus International Riding Club 天星调良国际马术俱乐部
Tue-Sun 7am-noon, 2-6pm. Tack Shop: Tue-Sun. 8am-noon, 2-6pm. 91 Shunbai Lu, Sunhe Town (north of and parallel to Xiang Jiang Beilu), Chaoyang District (8459 0236 Chinese, 6432 4947 English, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.equriding.com 朝阳区孙河镇顺白路91号香江北路北
Renma Heyi Tack Shop 人马合一
Daily 8.30am-6.30pm. North of Xiangjiangbei Lu, Shunbai Lu, Sunhe Town (north of and parallel to Xiang Jiang Beilu), Chaoyang District (Across from Equuleus) (8459 5489) 朝阳区孙河镇顺白路香江北路北（天星调良国际马术俱乐部斜对面）
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