Riding borrowed horses, Canadian Equestrian Ambassadors were amongst hundreds who rode in the opening parade of the Invitational Tournament of 2011 "Xinfadi Cup" the Second National Equestrianism Endurance Racing and Speed Competition in Pasture of Zhaosu County in northwest China. © Equine Canada
The event was run in Zhaosu County, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China.
In a different format from previous trade missions, four endurance riders, who took on the role as "Canadian Equestrian Ambassadors" represented Canada in a four-day equine festival called the Invitational Tournament of 2011 "Xinfadi Cup" the Second National Equestrianism Endurance Racing and Speed Competition in Pasture of Zhaosu County. Along with a flat racing meet for Chinese-owned thoroughbreds and native horses, the festival was comprised of three days of riding over 260km in the area's grasslands, which included an 80km endurance race on July 1.
Riding borrowed horses for the event were Elroy Karius, Gail Jewel, Robert Gielen and Wendy MacCoubrey. Each has represented Canada internationally, most recently as members of the Canadian Equestrian Team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and/or the 2008 FEI World Endurance Championships. Susan Stewart, the managing consultant of EC Export, led the trade mission and Barbara Daley acted as the communications consultant for the initiative.
"Unanimously, we felt that our greatest contribution going forward would be to facilitate educational opportunities for Chinese equestrians, delivered both in China and in Canada," Stewart said.
"Considering this region of China's history with horses and Canada's contemporary horse industry infrastructure, a partnership for development has unique possibilities."
The county's plan focuses on Zhaosu living up to its reputation as the area of "heavenly horses", first recorded 2000 years ago. With ideal climatic conditions and 3900 square kilometres of protected grassland dedicated for animal rearing, the Zhaosu area government has its sights on catapulting Chinese horse breeding for modern-day equestrian sport into the forefront. Along with increasing the number of horse sport events offered in the region, it is investing in infrastructure for its breeding sector, including increasing the use of artificial insemination to enhance the area's native breed, the Yili horse.
EC Export provides opportunities for Canadians to promote their horse industry abroad and, at times, travel to other countries to experience their industries' current practices and learn about their needs.
EC Export's focus extends beyond its overall goal to increase live equine and equine genetics export revenue. Its long-term objectives are to help Canadians understand and respond to the needs, preferences and buying habits of international customers; promote internationally using the Canada Brand for the equine industry; and position Canada to be recognized internationally as a mature, developed equine nation where quality horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, equine genetics and expertise can be sought by international buyers.