Jackie Siu Makes Debut for Hong Kong at 2012 World Young Horse Championships
Jacqueline Siu is the first competitor ever to represent the nation of Hong Kong at a World Young Horse Championships. Proud of her unique heritage and her long journey from Asia all the way to Verden and Grand Prix level, the 29-year old Jackie competed the 6-year old KWPN gelding Bolivi at the WCYH and finished 19th in the consolation finals.
"The World Young Horse championships were a fantastic experience for us," said Siu. "I was realistic with my expectations for this show, and was really happy with him, especially on the first day, where he was focused and listening to me all the way through, and produced a mistake free test in such a big atmosphere."
While her scores were not high enough to make it to the Finals, Siu was ecstatic to have ridden at the famous venue.
"I was very proud to not only be the first Hong Kong rider, but the first ever Asian rider to have qualified and competed at this event," she explained.
Jackie purchased Boli as a three year old and has brought him on herself ever since.
"Bolivi has made a lot of progress this past year, and has competed successfully this season, so we made the decision to go to Verden. I hope that one day riders from my part of the world will be more and more involved in the sport of dressage at top level."
Bolivi, a 16.1hh KWPN gelding by Olivi out of a Houston mare, shares the same dam as the 2005 KWPN stallion licensing reserve champion in Valeron. Jackie believes his beauty and activity immediately caught her eye.
“I had sold my top horse at the time and decided to look for a quality youngster to begin training on up the levels. I first noticed Bolivi’s fantastic hind leg, and then saw that he had a beautiful head and an intelligent look in his eye.”
Siu acknowledged that it was special to compete at the World Young Horse championships on a horse that she had trained herself, from the very beginning of his career.
“For as long as I can remember I always loved anything to do with horses,” says Siu. “Growing up in Hong Kong, as you can imagine they were not really part of everyday life at all. However if the horse races were on TV, I just loved to watch them. Luckily, I had some exposure to horses in real life at an early age as my Aunt (on my Mother’s side, who is American) was a jockey in the US, and went on to train racehorses. As a child my favorite holiday was when we went to visit her and I was allowed to help around the barn and just be around her horses."
When she was five she finally convinced her parents to let her start taking riding lessons. So it all began at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, where she learnt to ride on the ex-racehorses. It wasn’t until she moved to England at the age of 10 that she rode a pony for the first time..
Jackie says that learning to ride is now becoming more accessible for people in Hong Kong, but knows there is probably still far more demand to learn, than what can be physically met by the few riding establishments.
“To then go on and become more competitive on an international level, most of the riders that represent Hong Kong in all diciplines, have had to go and train abroad. It’s the only way to access the top trainers in the world, and compete at the biggest shows.”
Siu discovered dressage at a local pony club, after moving to England with her parents. There she tried out different types of activities, but only in the dressage section she was not having a total nightmare on the rascal pony Munchkin who was "humiliating me. So from then on I realized there was actually something to this ‘dressage thing’ and it all went from there.”
International Break Through
Becoming Young Rider Champion on Jamiro in 2006 and representing the nation of Hong Kong at two Asian Games, Jackie has had many career highlights, of which she owes a lot to finding and training good horses.
“Jamiro was a talented horse who was not always the easiest but taught me so much. I feel like we had made a real breakthrough together- representing Hong Kong at two Asian Games was very special for me, particularly my first one in Doha 2006, where I was a member of the first Hong Kong dressage team in history. We placed 4th as a team and I was 7th individually!”
Extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some of the best riders and trainers in the world, Jackie stated she has learnt so much from each and every one of them.
“I trained with Anky in Holland for about 3 and a half years. Prior to this I had trained with Peter Storr, who was my mentor since I was 13 Also, when I competed for Great Britiain on the European Championship squad, our team trainer was Henk van Bergen."
Siu thought that going to Anky's the first time and was really exciting and equally nerveracking.
"It was an incredible opportunity, and to be in that enviroment working and riding amongst those talented riders and horses, was inspiring and certainly made me lift my game! Each trainer has their own style, and these different influences, combined, have helped me develop my riding over the years.”
The British Life
Currently based in England, Jackie says she missed England a lot when she was training in other parts of Europe and is very positive about her current trainer, Ferdi Eilberg, and her life in the UK!
“England is where I feel at home and in 2009 I married Mark Tracey. Although he doesn't ride horses anymore he used to be an event rider, so importantly for me he understands what it is like to be competing and training at a high level."
She began training with Eilberg in 2010. The German born Brit has a program that encompasses both the mental and physical aspects of dressage training.
“As with all my horses, Ferdi has a programme that involves regular hacking and a bit of lunging, amongst his days with training sessions. I like having this variation both for the physical and mental development of my horses, and I can adjust this according to our competition plans and training goals.”
Looking forward to getting back out onto the international show circuit, Jackie is currently focusing her riding on some very talented up and comers. Her rides include Ferrera (by Sandeo Hit) and Ziolinco (by Stedinger) -- both made successful small tour debuts this year -- and her partner from the 2010 Asian Games, Rocco is now working at Grand Prix level. Earlier this year he had to have emergency colic surgery, but he has made a miraculous recovery and is now back under saddle.
Lucky to have the support of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation, Jackie says her nation not only helps with nominations for international events, but has also been very supportive of the riders in the Asian Games by finding sponsorship to fly the horses.
Hoping to continue Bolivi’s development and training towards the higher levels of dressage, Jackie thinks she got much out of the Verden experience, and it will motivate her long into the future.
“Verden was a wonderful show, very well organized with a great atmosphere. Competing at events like this is such a pleasure for me, and it is quite a feeling to ride in this sort of environment. For me it was amazing to see everything myself, all these horses and riders that I have heard or read about right before my eyes! The judge’s commentary was also insightful. It was fantastic to see Ferdi’s son Michael win on Farouche with such a spellbinding performance.”
With her ultimate goal being to represent Hong Kong at an Olympic Games, Jackie only just missed out on the 2008 Olympics due to horse injury, and says that will not stop her from getting there one day.
by Sarah Warne for Eurodressage
Photos © LL-foto.de