The 2019 Inter-Pacific Exchange is being hosted by Hong Kong, June 30-July 13. Teams from Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia will join the United States team for two weeks of training, competing, and cultural experiences. Follow along with team members as they recount their experiences. Today, team member Cooper Madden-Hennessey of the New York-Upper Connecticut Region shares the experiences of the first few days of the trip.

On Monday (July 1st) after orientation the team attended the Welcome Dinner held at Peking Garden. We were served a traditional Chinese meal of delicious Peking duck. This was the first test of our chopsticks skill and it was comical watching the varying degrees of people’s experience. Following the dinner we took a boat tour around Victoria Harbour to watch the light show. The light show consisted of lots of lit up buildings and lasers synced to really cool music.

Tuesday (July 2nd) was the first time we got to ride horses! The Australian and US teams got an opportunity to ride the ponies and horses at Clearwater Bay Riding School. The riding arena had a gorgeous view of the South China Sea. During our rides at the school we got to experience Hong Kong’s typhoon season. Even though some of us got drenched, we were happy to be riding. In the evening we took a trip up to The Peak which overlooked Hong Kong. The view was breathtaking. The US team got dinner at a traditional Chinese restaurant where we once again put our chopstick skills to the test.

Wednesday (July 3rd) we were treated to a fun, junk trip (a junk is a boat). We took the boat to a remote island where we had lunch in a tiny boating town. After eating we took a hike around the island and found supposed WWII ruins. The bugs on the island were ferocious! The boat then took us out to the South China Sea. We all had lots of fun jumping off the top deck of the boat, sliding down the slide, and swimming in the warm water surrounded by the mountains. Following the junk trip, we all returned to Sai Kung for dinner. During our dinner we saw some wild cows which apparently just roam the streets.

On Thursday (July 4th) we celebrated the 4th of July by beginning our day with a team work out in the hotel gym. The Australian and US teams toured the Hong Kong Jockey Club vet hospital and track. It was neat to see how efficient the vet hospital was set up. We even got to see a horse being prepped for a bone chip removal surgery. This was the first time we have seen a “Press this button in case of loose horse” button! This button causes all of the gates on the perimeter of the property to be shut down to prevent the loose horse from reaching the highway. The stables were three-stories high and are air-conditioned to help the horses manage the intense Hong Kong heat and humidity. We were also introduced to our team horses on Thursday. We will use these horses in the Bauhinia Dressage Cup. 

On Friday (July 5th) we competed on scrambled teams with members from each country in the Bauhinia Dressage Cup held at Beas River Equestrian Center, the same location where the 2008 Olympic cross country was held! The White Tigers, coached by USA’s own Nicole Ligon, took home first place. The US riders had two in the top three overall placings. Kaylee Van Winkle took 3rd place and Cooper Madden-Hennessey took 1st. After the competition, we were treated to lunch at the Beas River Country Club. 

We are very excited for the days to come, including a day at the Stanley Market tomorrow and attending the races at the Jockey Club on Sunday.