Knight Union Riding, Beijing

Proof that equestrian patterns in China mirror those of the west: young girls form the bulk of the membership at the Knight Union riding club in Beijing, one of two clubs I visited lately which seem very busy teaching the children of China’s urban elite.

Down a dusty side road in the same part of town as two other clubs (Asgard and Equuleus) Knight Union markets itself with lots of photos of racing horses and claims vaguely have had its staff trained by a Randwick Equine Centre, Sydney. It also claims to have hired staff from numerous western countries including France and Ireland. This seems unlikely given our requests to see the imported horses referenced in our enquiry phone calls were replied with sheepish “oh they must have been moved.”

A friendly place but definitely not the “internationally renowned” equestrian centre described on its website.

Also, before you get in the saddle you’re expected to pay down RMB9,000 for the most basic riding package on offer. Without knowing what kind of horse or trainer you’re signing up for. Well, we were offer a 10 minute ‘trial ride’ but declined. But the fee model here appears familiar to VIP-price China where uninformed cash-up-front membership models appear to work, probably because of the relative lack of equine knowledge among the target audience.

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