On the International Trail

The American Quarter Horse Draws Large Crowds in China

For the final 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp, the Sam Houston State University instructors provide a mock horse show for riders to prepare for competition.

In lieu of preparing the riders for competition, the Sam Houston State University instructors organized a mock horse show on Day 3. (Credit: Kelsey Stangebye)

The Sam Houston State University instructors have just completed the final AQHA International Horsemanship Camp at Yi He Farm, which is located outside of Beijing, China. Over the three-day horsemanship camp, there were more than 35 riders attending the camp. This large horsemanship camp made for a great way to complete the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camp series

The Chinese Quarter Horse members’ dedication to improving their horsemanship skills has been really rewarding to experience. There have been riders that have traveled thousands of kilometers to attend the horsemanship camps, as well as several riders that have attended all three horsemanship camps in China. In addition to large rider participation in the camps, there have been large crowds that stand on the sidelines to watch the SHSU instructors teach the western riding discipline. The audience is a testament to how enthusiastic the Chinese horsemen are in wanting to progress their horsemanship knowledge and skills.

The Sam Houston State University instructors provided a thorough horsemanship education, which included exercises to improve rider’s position, exercises to develop control of the horse’s body, groundwork exercises and how to troubleshoot specific riding issues. Many riders were specifically interested in getting feedback on their riding because they were preparing for the upcoming Chinese Quarter Horse Association’s horse show. This horse show was hosted the following day after the AQHA International Horsemanship Camp.

In lieu of preparing the riders for competition, the Sam Houston State University instructors organized a mock horse show on Day 3. The mock horse show allowed riders to compete in ranch riding and trail. The riders were able to showcase their improvement from the horsemanship camp. Following the mock horse show, the SHSU instructors then provided a fantastic awards ceremony to recognize the improved talent of both horses and riders. Below are some of the pictures from the awards ceremony.

Attending the Chinese Quarter Horse Association Horse Show

The following day after the horsemanship camp, the Chinese Quarter Horse Association provided a horse show for members to compete in barrel racing and pole bending at Ye Hi Farm. The SHSU instructors and I were able to attend the competition and see some of the riders that had attended the AQHA International Horsemanship Camp compete in the horse show. This was a really interesting experience! The horse show was held on a Sunday, so there were many spectators that attended the competition. While many members of the audience were familiar with horses, there were many spectators that did not have any experience with horses, but were interested in learning more about the Quarter Horse competition. Uniquely, the riders competed in teams. Each team represented the farm that the riders had come from. The teams wear matching shirts that represent their farms. The team aspect definitely adds a fun level of camaraderie to the competition. Additionally, the social media live coverage of the event was very impressive! The Chinese media team, Cross China New Media provided phenomenal video coverage of the competition. (Watch the show's video coverage.) Incredibly, there were 1.5 million viewers that tuned into watch the Chinese Quarter Horse Association horse show.  

Time to Head Home!

With 12 horsemanship camps now completed, I can hardly believe that it’s time to return home! The AQHA International Horsemanship Camps have provided the Sam Houston State University instructors and I the incredible experience of traveling in China, from which, we have been able to explore some of the most historically renown sites like the Great Wall, travel through the desert of Inner Mongolia, China; and ultimately, experience and learn about Chinese culture. Additionally, we have learned a great deal about the ancient and rich history of the horse in China, and how the horse is embedded into Chinese culture. I have learned that this history is really relevant when reflecting upon the extensive growth of the American Quarter Horse in less than a decade. Looking forward, I am so interested to follow the progress and impact of the American Quarter Horse in China.

I would like to say thank you so much to all our AQHA members that attended the horsemanship camps and to the Sam Houston State University instructors for making these horsemanship camps so memorable; and to David Snodgrass, from Unbridled China, and An Tao, from the Chinese Quarter Horse Association, for their extensive efforts in making the three AQHA International Horsemanship Camps in China so successful. Finally, thank you so much to the American Quarter Horse Association for providing this remarkable opportunity to promote the American Quarter Horse around the world. Working as the international intern for the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps has truly been a once in a lifetime experience!

Scroll through the slideshow to view more photos from the AQHA International Horsemanship Camp and SHSU's travels in China.