When I was 10-years-old, my mother enrolled me in the “Berklee’s School of Etiquette” so I could learn how to be a lady. While I may not have retained the knowledge of what fork to use or when and where the proper time to wear gloves is. The saving grace of this class was that every week students would learn how to ride horses because apparently learning equestrian is on the checklist of lady skills. In any case, As much as I hated etiquette school, the only part I loved was horse riding. And while the day of riding “side-saddle” is over, everything else I learned was used to ride this day.
EQUESTRIAN RULES IN HONG KONG DIFFER FROM THE WEST
This weekend I decided to head over to Lo Wu Saddle Club in Hong Kong and get “back on the saddle” literally. I went with a friend who has similar riding experience and while we literally trekked a total of 1.5 hours (there and back) to ride for a total of 45 minutes, it was definitely worth it!
For those of you who have never ridden a horse before or for those of you that have extensive riding experience, Hong Kong has many stables and opportunities. With a handful of public riding stables under the Jockey Club and a few private riding stables offering private, semi-private and group lessons, Hong Kong is a great place to learn or improve your skills.
I noticed Hong Kong differs from the United States and France when it comes to riding and horse upkeep. In general a riding lesson in the USA and France involves being on the actual horse, but also learning how to properly care and maintain. This includes cleaning the stalls, washing and brushing the horse, cleaning their hooves, tacking (attaching saddle and bridle) and de-tacking when the lesson is over. A horse is a very sensitive and valuable animal. I was always taught that learning how to take care of a horse was essential when learning how to ride.
In Hong Kong, these skills are not really taught or enforced. When you sign up for a riding lesson, you are assigned a horse and the workers in the stables do everything for you minus riding the animal. This is considered normal and just described as “the way we do it in Hong Kong.” Interesting, but I always found that riding a horse wasn’t only about learning what to do on top of the animal. It was important to know how to upkeep them and know the time and energy it went into an animal of this size and importance. But, the horses all seemed very happy and well-kept, so its very obvious that the stable workers are doing a very good job and quite possibly don’t want to risk the horses’ health with novices.
LO WU SADDLE CLUB IMPRESSES WITH ITS INSTRUCTORS
What I do have to say about Lo Wu Saddle Club is, unlike some of the stables here (cough cough Jockey Club), they have some of the nicest instructors available. Every instructor I’ve had at LWSC has been nice, attentive, genuinely happy to be around horses, and teaching lessons to students. This was a great establishment, because you would be surprised how many riding clubs in Hong Kong employ people who seem to hate your very existence and won’t interact with you during the lesson.
Overall the Lo Wu Saddle Club is a great place to “get back on the saddle again” if you used to do equestrian, otherwise it’s a great place to bring the family or start riding for the first time.
Private and semi-private lessons are booked in a first come first served basis until you can establish a regular time-slot. An easier way to get into regular time slot would be to join a pre-existing group. Each group is separated by skill level and age so before joining a group, a proper assessment would have to be made.