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Equestrian shedding 'elitist' image

26 March, 2014   Khalis Rifhan

BTSC show

Equestrian is not a mainstream sport but it has steadily grown in popularity over the years. (Photo by SSC Photographer/ Calvin Teoh)


Equestrian might not be your daily dose of mainstream sport in Singapore but there is a dedicated group of enthusiasts aiming to shed the ‘elitist’ image the sport is usually associated with, and raise its interest among the general public.


One such centre is the Bukit Timah Saddle Club (BTSC), which focuses primarily on show jumping and dressage, and has gained a reputation as a centre of excellence for equestrian sport.


Tucked away off Bukit Timah Road and surrounded by luxuriant greenery and sights, BTSC has seen a rise in the sport’s popularity since 2010 when Singapore hosted the Youth Olympics Games (YOG).

“We had the Youth Olympic Games and they purchased (YOG’s Organising Committee) 36 horses from Australia. These horses then stay in Singapore after the Youth Olympics and they were divided amongst other riding clubs,” said BTSC General Manager Mr Anthony Lowry during the Dressage and Show Jumping Tournament held from 22 to 23 March.


With a big influx of horses to the island, equestrian not only saw an increased number of riders and competitions but also attracted newbies to the sports, with BTSC seeing an average 25% to 30% participation rates for their riding lessons.

In 2012, BTSC started offering public horse riding lessons and boasts over 300 public riders to date. These lessons, costing $400 for four sessions of 45 minutes each, allowed the public to bypass the club’s membership registration.


BTSC revealed that on a monthly basis, they have on average of 25 new riders and that they do provide beginner courses. The courses are conducted three times per month with each syllabus lasting eight weeks for a fee of $520.


“We are trying to make it accessible to the public so everybody can try it out and to lose the stereotype and image that it is an elite sports only for wealthy people,” said Anthony who took time out to give a rundown on the equipment needed for the sport.


“The essential equipment for the horse is obviously the saddle and the bridle. The good equipment starts from $1,000 and can go up to $3,000 to $4,000,” explained the 2010 Singapore National Show Jumping Championships winner.

“For the riders, they need to be equipped with a good safety helmet, riding hat and that is probably the most important to protect the rider's head in case they had a fall," he added.


“The Singapore climate is hot so we use breathable material which keeps you cool. Other equipment include the glove and you can get a body protector which will protect your spine,” commented the Irishman, who was no stranger to horses when growing up as his dad owned a successful horse breeding farm, churning out countless winning racehorses.



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