Hasn’t it grown. Beijing’s best known equestrian club, Equuleus (Tian Xing Tiao Lang in Mandarin) has expanded rapidly in recent years, adding a lot of new real estate on its land in Beijing’s northern suburbs. All has changed radically since I first visited in 2003. I have many fond memories of riding my mountain bike out Jingshan Lu, the old airport expressway, for a 7a.m. riding lesson at the club which continues to be run by a dynamic couple, a former fashion editor and her businessman (and show jumping rider) husband. Known to most as Michelle, Wang Qing has used her media savvy and connections to build the club into a go-to place for photo shoots and the club makes revenue out of event management as much as it does from membership fees and from its horse import business.
Equuleus in its fine interiors, cafe and dining space always encapsulated for me the difference between Chinese equestrian clubs where horse riding is a luxury destination as much as a sport. An equestrian centre in Ireland is typically less glamorous -much more low key – and affordable.
The club’s success is all the more remarkable given its location in Beijing’s villa district where property prices have trebled in the 20 years since the club was established. I will always have fond memories of this place. I’m not sure however that I could afford today’s membership fees.