Canada’s own Tiffany Foster from North Vancouver, BC had the unique opportunity to attend the seventh-annual Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters, held on Oct. 13-15, 2017 in Beijing, CHN.
The event – which was held at the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium, first made famous during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – paired 10 riders from nine different countries with top Chinese riders for a team competition. Since the inaugural event in 2011, 170 horse-and-rider pairs have competed in the Beijing Masters, and Foster was excited to be added to that list in 2017.
In September, Foster was approached by CHIO Aachen Chairman, Frank Kemperman, who said they were looking for a diverse group of male and female riders from across the world to apply to the Beijing Masters.
“I knew that having the same organizers as Aachen would ensure a top-class event,” said Foster. “I am always up for a new adventure and was excited to see how the sport is developing in China.”
The intention of the Beijing Masters is to drive the growth of high performance equestrian sport in China. In the CSI 3* Team Competition, teams were comprised of one international athlete and two Chinese riders. “Team Tiffany Foster” was comprised of Foster and teammates, Fujun Yang and Maodong Yuan. The trio captured third place with 12 faults.
“Everyone is very enthusiastic and really looking to learn and improve,” said Foster. “Both of my teammates, Yuan and Yang, were awesome! They were good riders, very positive and we bonded right away. I think our team coming together and pulling off third place was the highlight of our night. It was funny to try to communicate how we were planning to ride the course – there were a lot of hand gestures!”
Due to Chinese quarantine regulations, international riders faced the unique challenge of competing on borrowed horses. Foster was partnered with Steven Davenport’s Moonstar (Kannan x Kildalton King), an 11-year-old Anglo European stallion.
“Show jumping depends so much on the bond between the rider and the horse, so riding an unknown horse over big jumps is always a challenge,” said Foster. “Luckily for me, I got along great with Moonstar. He was totally my type of horse and we connected right away. I always like to try to make a horse relax as much as possible. This suited Moonstar because he had a lot of energy, so I think he responded well to my way of riding.”
In addition to competing, the athletes found time to explore Beijing. Foster enjoyed spending time with the other riders outside of the arena, and the group even took a sightseeing trip to the Great Wall of China.
“I loved it and would absolutely do it again,” said Foster of her experience. “The biggest takeaway for me is to always try something new – you never know how much fun you will have. And, I will have to learn some Chinese for next time!”