Hong Kong’s only foal was a good omen for the Clearwater Bay Equestrian Centre.
Sweet William, the first foal born in Hong Kong for 16 years, celebrates his first birthday this month. A happy accident, his arrival has proved a good omen for the Clearwater Bay Equestrian and Education Centre, where he was born at 3.30am on March 4, 2009, in its first year of operation.
Happily ensconced with his mother, Blossom, and 44 other horses, Billy is a popular figure at the busy centre – a social hotspot in Clearwater Bay. Which is exactly what managing director Nicky Loiterton intended. “We want this to be a family hangout,” she said soon after the opening in mid 2008. “As well as the riding, we have access to beautiful beaches, there’s fantastic hiking all around us and lovely picnicking and kite-flying spots… families come and make a day of it.”
It’s easy to see why. Tucked away at the end of Lung Ha Road, its five paddocks are in a stunning spot between the Lobster Bay waterfront and Clearwater Bay Country Park. We can thank Loiterton’s son, Hugh, for spotting the plot while out running during training for the Hong Kong Under-14s rugby team.
It’s a public riding school with a wide variety of activities on offer. Riding lessons are available for adults and children from the age of six, from beginners right up to competition-standard riding. The CEEC runs a competition squad of 10, with two students on the Hong Kong junior squad. All instructors are qualified riders – director of instruction Sarah Corner and senior competition coach Tara Delaney have both represented Great Britain – with occasional tuition by some of the world’s leading equestrian competitors.
Beginners can hire gear, and there is a shop selling all the necessary equipment. I signed up a year ago, as a complete novice, hoping to tone up and have some fun. After going slightly mad in the shop – spending $6,000 on helmet, jodhpurs, protective vest, even some chaps – I looked the part. But after 15 lessons and falling off – twice – I decided that, for me, it was a fun adventure. For others, it’s a passion.
Children, in particular, adore the centre and its ponies, puppies, playground, activity days, camps and party packages. There’s even a new mother-and-toddler group every weekday morning.
With so many children around – 65 per cent of riders are under 16 – Loiterton said it was important to hand pick the horses for temperament. They’re a soft-natured bunch, with 20 horses and 15 ponies from the UK, Ireland, Australia and Korea. And, of course, everyone at the centre is madly in love with its youngest addition, Sweet William. Happy birthday, Billy.
Parties: The CEEC is now hosting children’s birthday parties. It is a wonderful alternative for parents looking for space and something a little different.
Details are available on 6398 6241 or via the web site on www.ceec.hk.