The Inter-Pacific Exchange 2010
- Hong Kong and China -
The Inter Pacific Exchange is a Pony Club competition which is held every 2 years between the 6 nations that border the Pacific Rim. These consist of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and Hong Kong and have been run since 1961. Japan was unable to attend this year.
I was fortunate to be the Northern Territory representative for the 2009 IPE. My excitement turned to disappointment when the Games were cancelled early in the winter of 2009 due to the outbreak of Swine Flu. It was some months before it was decided that the games would go ahead the next year with the same teams in the same host country(Hong Kong)
My Inter Pacific Experience began on Wednesday the 21st of July2010, when I flew from Alice Springs to Sydney. At the airport I met up with Jan Moreland (Coach), Carol Paterson (Team Manager) and Elise Norman-Hunkin (QLD rider). Later that night, in the hotel, we were met by Ally Hall (TAS rider) and Shay Smith (VIC rider).
IPE Team Members (L) to (R), Carol Patterson(team manager), Shay Smith, Elise Norman-Hunkin, Ally Hall, myself and Jan Moreland(coach)
The next morning we were all up bright and early; we caught a bus to the airport at 7.45am, and boarded the flight to Hong Kong at 10.15am.
The flight to Hong Kong was a long and uneventful nine hours. As soon as we disembarked the heat and humidity hit us. A stark contrast to the Australian winter we had left behind.Thankfully the air conditioners in the bus and within the buildings were very effective.
The first night in Hong Kong we stayed at the Kimberly Hotel in an area called Kowloon. We ate at a Mongolian restaurant where I was able to try snails for the first time! Not a well known Chinese dish.
The next morning we discovered the delights of “buffet breakfasts”. There was fruit, yoghurt, cereal, omelettes (where you told the chef what ingredients to include), bacon, soups, dim sims, pork rolls, cheeses, croissants and pastries on offer! That morning we caught the subway out to Beas River Country Club.
Beas River Country Club astounded us; it was a five star resort! There was tennis courts, three pools, a shop, a bar, a restaurant and hotel rooms. The facilities at Beas River include an equestrian centre which holds 250 horses, which are all stabled in two storey stable blocks. There were indoor arenas, round yards, horse walkers and riding arenas. Everything was landscaped, gardened, paved, painted and well kept. The golf course behind Beas River was converted into a cross country for the Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately the Golfers had claimed it back.
We were given an insight into horse ownership in Hong Kong. There are no privately owned horses; all horses are owned by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which has set up five or six riding schools around Hong Kong. Riders can pay to have part or full use of horses. There is no breeding in Hong Kong; horses are imported. To be imported, the horse/pony must have been proven (have had success in competitions/races) in another country. At Beas River there was an apprentice jockey academy and ex-racehorses were re-educated for use in other stables.
In the afternoon we were given a tour of several of the different riding schools in Hong Kong. Interestingly, it is possible to drive from the most southern point of Hong Kong, to the Chinese boundary in an hour and a half – in traffic!
At Beas River we met the other teams On the Saturday; we all spent the day out on a boat on Hong Kong harbour. It was a great day – we got to know everyone, got sunburnt and spent hours jumping off the top deck of the boat into the water.
On Sunday we travelled into China, and it was also my 19th birthday. To get into China from Hong Kong there are several border/boundary crossings. At the border, there is a bridge over a stretch which is ‘no man’s land’. At the immigration building, we were required to get off our bus and unload all of our luggage. You then pass through the “leaving Hong Kong” part of immigration and walk 100m to the “entering China” part of immigration.
That afternoon we arrived at Camelot Riding Resort and Country Club, about 60km from the boundary. We were given a tour of the facilities which included: an indoor arena, an outdoor arena, two story stable blocks for 150 horses, a tack shop, two restaurants, hotel rooms, two pools, recreational rooms, a karaoke bar, massage/spa facilities, an indoor volley ball court, a gym, yoga rooms and a rooftop basketball and tennis court.
On Monday, we rode our dressage competition horses for the first time.During the Exchange all teams ride loan horses. Noone rides their own horse. Before each competition we were all given 2 forty minute sessions to ride the horses that were allotted to us. The competition horses were assembled into groups of approximately equal ability and each team coach drew out a group. The horses didn’t have names, instead they had numbers. After a bit of swapping and trying, I ended up riding horse 303. We discovered very quickly that the heat and humidity was a challenge for both the riders and the horses, both of which needed cooling off after 40 minutes.
In the afternoon we went shopping at a nearby department store before riding non-competition horses in the evening. I exercised a little stallion which had notable Chinese bloodlines.
The next day, after practicing with our competition horses, we had a day trip to “Splendid China”; a park with miniature scale replications of all the attractions in China. We were also able to watch mounted re-enactments of several of the medieval battles in China, and have pony rides. It was a great day and even though they were only miniature replicas of the wonders of China, they were still amazing.
On the Wednesday, we had the dressage competition. It was really hot, especially in our jackets, but thankfully we competed indoors. At the end of the day Australia and Canada were tied on 1116 points, but unfortunately Australia lost on a count back of the rider marks. The final placings were: 1st USA, 2nd Canada, 3rd Australia, 4th Hong Kong and 5th New Zealand.
In the afternoon we went on a shopping trip to Shenzhen and discovered how addictive bartering over the price is!
The next day we had a quiet day. Some went on another shopping trip to more local stores in ChangAn. In the afternoon there was a ferocious thunder storm, so I had a decadent massage at Camelot’s spa.
On the Friday the Kangaroo Cup was held in the Indoor Arena. This was a fun event so we were rearranged into four teams made up of a rider from every country and one of the grooms from Camelot. The Kangaroo Cup consisted of mounted games (on very small Mongolian ponies so we had lots of laughter and falling off), bike riding (which ended in lots of grazes and bruises as nearly everyone took one corner too fast), basketball, rock climbing and swimming. It was great fun and to top it all off, my team won!
That evening we went tothe Chimelong International Circus. It was amazing! There were spectacular acrobatics, some stunts which I couldn’t watch and a wide variety of exotic animals.
The next day, after a lazy morning, we had a lecture from Colleen Kelly, about rider biomechanics. Colleen is Australian, but is based in America; her talk was really interesting.
In the afternoon we rode our first 40 minute practice session on our competition horses for the Nations Cup, a showjumping event. Most of the teams had one of the same horses from the dressage competition, and three new horses. Australia had 303 again;and I rode him again.
The following day we had a final chance to work our competition horses in the evening. In the morning Shay, Elise and I had a workout in the Camelot gym, then went to a Chinese cooking class, held in the restaurants kitchen. That evening we trained under lights. I discovered that my horse,303, had quite an amazing jump!
The next day we had stage one of the Nation’s Cup. Each rider rode two showjumping rounds; tomorrow we will ride two more. After part one, Australia was in the lead! We all went to bed early to get a good night’s sleep before part two.
The next day a lot of the horses were tired and there was a lot of rails down and several refusals in round three. Thankfully round four was a shortened course. Despite being chased by Canada, Australia managed to stay out in front! The final results for the Nations Cup were: 1st Australia, 2nd Canada, 3rd USA, 4th New Zealand and 5th Hong Kong.
The next day we said goodbye to Camelot and all the amazing people we had met in China and drove back into Hong Kong. Our final days in Hong Kong were spent sightseeing with the other teams.
The entire trip was an amazing experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.The other riders, from both Australia and the other countries, have become good friends and we keep in touch via the internet. I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to be a part of the Australian team. I would also like to thank Carol Paterson and Jan Moreland who were such a steady support and great coach. Also the Hong Kong Pony Club for organising and hosting the 2010 IPE.
My attendance at the IPE was the culmination of my entire riding career to date. I would like to acknowledge the support I received from the Alice Springs Pony Club, the Pony Club Association of the Northern Territory, Pony Club Australia,and the Northern Territory Government.My special thanks must go to the mentors that have encouraged my riding, Di Keach, Judy McGrath and Trish Campbell as well as my parents.